Griffiths, David Barclay
Confessions, admissions and declarations by persons accused of crime under Scots law : a historic and comparative study.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This work examines in depth the issue of the accused's own words as evidence against him in a Scottish criminal court. The work begins with a brief consideration of the historic development of the modern Scottish criminal justice system with particular emphasis on the position of the accused within that system. The literature of the topic is next considered. The right to silence is discussed in some detail, encompassing the modern law in both Scotland and England as well as the various, mainly English, proposals to attenuate the right under the guise of law reform. The early history of confessions in Scotland is examined before turning to the issue of the admissibility of confession evidence.
The bulk of this discussion focusses, not surprisingly, on confessions to the police with the development of the law being traced on a case-by-case basis, but all other types of confession evidence are also treated. A comparative note on the English law is included. The issue of corroboration of confession evidence has recently received a considerable amount of attention in the press both legal and lay, and the present work examines both the general issues involved as well as the particular dangers caused by the development of the so-called `special knowledge' confession. Once again comparison is made with English law. The exceptional situation in Northern Ireland is considered in order to demonstrate, albeit in an extreme form, the dangers of unsupervised interrogation and other activities by the forces of `law and order' and the inquisitorial system is likewise considered to see what lessons, if any, can be learned and to identify the dangers and pitfalls of the main alternative procedural system.
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