Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2016.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

That point was raised at stages 1 and 2, and I will come to it in my speech. The issue was identified by the Crown, and I recognise that Margaret Mitchell and Christine Grahame, who is the convener of the Justice Committee, have raised a valid point.

At stage 2, comments were made that providing for statutory jury directions would somehow threaten the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary. I find it hard to reconcile such comments with the fact that other jurisdictions have already legislated in the area without interfering with judicial independence. In addition, the provisions in the bill are deliberately framed to ensure continuing judicial discretion, in any case, on whether it is necessary to use the directions. That means that directions are not required to be given when they are not relevant to a given case.