Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, QC gave the 2016 JUSTICE Human Rights Day Lecture on Friday 9 December. He emphasised the need to respect the dignity and rights of all people within the criminal justice system, whether victim, witness or accused.
Mr Wolffe’s first speech since he was appointed Lord Advocate in June took place at Laigh Hall in Edinburgh and was co-organised by JUSTICE Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates.
Mr Wolffe addressed comments by the Dean of Faculty, Gordon Jackson, QC, that, while greater recognition of victims was to be welcomed, the independence of prosecutors, acting in the public interest, was being eroded in practice.
The Lord Advocate argued that it was the responsibility of prosecutors to engage with victims of crime, give them confidence to come forward and support to enable them through the criminal justice process.
He cited cases about disclosure and a suspect’s right of access to a solicitor which had resulted in changes to ensure that the rights of an accused were more fully respected.
Mr Wolffe said that in the future the prosecution service could be an ‘agent of change’ working to make the criminal justice system better serve victims of crime, witnesses or accused persons.
The 2016 Human Rights Day Lecture was chaired by the Honourable Lady Scott who was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Courts in November 2012.