Scottish law

Scottish law-there, the laws of evidence are different. Any crucial fact must be corroborated by two sources, so a conviction could not come on the evidence of one alone. The jury system is inherently flawed. The view that randomly chosen members of the public are the best judges of fact varies depending on the nature of the offence. In serious criminal trials involving complex medical evidence, it may be argued that the average juror's ability to process the mass of information presented to them is significantly reduced.

It is a vital instrument in the maintenance of our democracy. Public involvement in the justice system increases transparency and independence; however, the issue of complex cases does call into question its abilities. A solution to this problem could be the adoption of Swedish model where a separate decision making body for cases considered to be complex is in place. A panel of medical experts decide how a baby has died.

Only cases where abuse is obvious reach the court and only where the evidence is overwhelming do they result in a conviction. It is not in the public interest to prosecute mothers where the experts cannot agree; if they cannot agree on a cause of death how is it possible to say someone has committed murder? John Batt, defence solicitor for Sally Clark, believes the proper way to deal with infant death cases is to adopt an investigative rather than adversarial approach.

In a protocol established by Professor Peter Fleming, a leading expert in this field, when a baby dies with no apparent cause first the post mortem should be done by a paediatric pathologist not an adult pathologist and secondly within twenty four hours a full history is taken by a paediatrician, not a police officer. Once both of these procedures have been carried if there are any unusual findings, all the necessary professionals will be brought in and if it is decided foul play may be a possibility it is only then that the police and social services will be called in. 
1 Hill, R 'Multiple Sudden Infant Deaths- Coincidence or Beyond Coincidence?' Paediatric & Perinatal Epidemiology, Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004, 18, p320 

2 Kay, LJ, Holland, J, Hallett, J Judgment R v Sally Clark [2003] EWCA Crim 1020 at 102

3 Ibid at 175

4 Ibid, p 320

5 Bacon C, Berry P, Blair P, Fleming P (eds) "Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy", The CESDI Studies 1993-1996, The Stationery Office, 2000

6 Hill, R 'Why Sally Clark is, probably, innocent', University of Salford March 2002, p 9

7 Ibid at p 9

8 Anonymous Royal Statistical Society News Release 23rd October 2001, www.rss.org.uk/docs/Royal%20Statistical%20Society.doc [retrieved 6th March 2007]