After section 3

Part of Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:00 pm on 6th March 2002.

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Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative 3:00 pm, 6th March 2002

It perhaps goes against my image as a hanger and flogger to lodge an amendment such as amendment 10, but I have no hesitation in doing so. I believe intensely in the fairness of the justice system. That extends not only to a fair trial, but to fairness across the board. I make no apologies for wanting to see a justice system that puts the interests of the victim and the protection of society at the top of the list of priorities.

Rape, sexual abuse and abuse of children are the most heinous of crimes. The justice system recognises that to be a factor by giving anonymity to complainers before the trial, during the trial and, in many circumstances, after the trial. I want the conviction of criminals to go unhampered by technical transgressions and procedures that, at times, prevent justice from being served. When guilt is proved, I ask no favours for the convicted. In fact, the penalties that I seek in many cases go beyond those for which most members would wish.

However, because of the seriousness of the charge of rape or child abuse, there is a need to give anonymity to those who are complained against but whose guilt has not been proven. The stigma attached to the crime does not stick only to the individual; it spreads to their families and associates. The accused's friendships, social standing and, at times, job are affected. Stains on a reputation last a lifetime, even when guilt is not finally proven. There is a wide range of examples.