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Faculty To Stage Vulnerable Witness Conference

Thursday, 15 October 2009


The conference, which is to be held at the Mackenzie Building, High Street, Edinburgh, on Monday, November 2, will be attended and addressed by senior lawyers and others operating in relevant disciplines.


The keynote address will be delivered by the High Court judge Lord Turnbull.  Other contributors include Anne Houston, chief executive of the childcare charity Children 1st , leading defence counsel Frances McMenamin QC, Crown Office head of Victim Policy Andrew McIntyre, and speech and language therapist Maria Venditozzi.


Simon di Rollo QC, who will chair the conference and participate in one of the plenary sessions, said: "The aim of the conference is to examine, and hopefully clarify, the apparent conflict between on the one hand effective examination of the credibility and reliability of vulnerable witnesses and on the other keeping to a minimum the traumatic effect of rigorous scrutiny of such evidence."


He added: "The Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004  provides for special measures - such video link, screens, support person - so that such witnesses find it easier to testify. These are fine as far as they go but they don't really address the manner and content of questioning while a witness gives evidence.


"Experience shows that it is this aspect of the process that vulnerable witnesses have the most difficulty dealing with.  Of course there are two sides to every story so it is essential that evidence is properly tested while at the same time giving as much help to the witness to give a fair account of themselves.  We want to explore the techniques used to test evidence and to see if and how they can be modified when examining vulnerable witnesses," he said.   


The conference is open to all disciplines working within the justice system, is free of charge and qualifies for 4 hours under the Faculty's CPD scheme.

Bruce McKain: 0131 260 5615
Derek Douglas: 0131 339 6093