Corroboration and Distress: Some Crumbs from Under the Master’s Table

James Chalmers, Fiona Leverick and Lindsay Farmer

in Essays in Criminal Law in Honour of Sir Gerald Gordon

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640706
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651450 | DOI:
Corroboration and Distress: Some Crumbs from Under the Master’s Table

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This chapter focuses on an issue with which the author of this chapter has grappled from time to time in the Appeal Court as he searched for a way of expressing it in terms that would settle the problem in a way that would be most beneficial in the public interest. Given that no one can be convicted under Scots law of a crime however trivial on the testimony of a single witness, can distress exhibited by the victim of an act of indecency that was not seen by anyone else corroborate her account of what was done to her? If the answer is that it can never do so, it must follow that private acts of indecency, which are not inflicted on at least one other person too so that they can be corroborated under the Moorov doctrine, which leave no trace and which the perpetrator does not admit to, however distressing they may have been to the victim, are beyond the reach of the criminal law. Is this acceptable in a civilised society?

Keywords: Scot criminal law; Appeal Court; private acts of indecency

Chapter.  7262 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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