§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement concerning the effectiveness of the procedure for reviewing alleged miscarriages of justice.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Alleged miscarriages of justice in Scotland may be reviewed by the High Court of Justiciary either when an appeal is made from the court of first instance or when a case is referred to the High Court by the Secretary of State in terms of section 263(1) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975. In circumstances where such a reference might be inappropriate, the Secretary of State may make a recommendation to Her Majesty concerning exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
Any convicted person may petition the Secretary of State seeking review of his case. The validity, weight and390W
significance of any fresh evidence or any other issue raised is carefully assessed in every case and, where appropriate, consideration given to a reference to the High Court of Justiciary. Between 1984 and 1990 on average 50 persons petitioned the Secretary of State in each year; and three cases were referred to the High Court, the conviction being quashed in each case.