End Not Proven campaign aims to eliminate 'confusing' verdict in Scotland


A woman who won a civil case of rape is spearheading a new campaign to end the unproven verdict in Scottish criminal trials.

The woman, known as Miss M, is accompanied by a series of women's and anti-violence organizations, urging that the "confused" verdict be dropped.

The End Not Proven campaign argues that it is used disproportionately in cases of sexual violence and fears it will give juries an "easy way out" when they reach a decision.

They say they want to hear the experiences – positive or negative – of people who have been affected by the unproven verdict.

Miss M, who can not be appointed for legal reasons, was awarded £ 80,000 in damages last month against a man who had previously been acquitted of raping her.

She sued Stephen Coxen, accusing him of raping her in St Andrews, Fife, after one night in September 2013.

Coxen of Bury in Lancashire denied the allegations and in November 2015 a jury acquitted him of an unproven verdict in a criminal trial.

Following a recent civil lawsuit at the Personal Injury Tribunal at the Sheriff's Court building in Edinburgh, Sheriff Robert Weir QC ruled that he had been raped.

Miss M said: "It is not justice that motivated me to start this campaign to end the unproven verdict in Scotland, it was injustice."

Exceptionally, Scotland has three verdicts – guilty, innocent and unproven. Innocent and not proven to have the same result, both being verdicts of acquittal.

Miss M said the unproven verdict is "clouded over with ambiguity."

"The certainty we apply to the guilty and not guilty does not apply to unproven," she said.

"Among the uncertainties, what we know for sure is that unproven is most commonly used in cases of rape and sexual violence.

"I fear – as someone who has received an unproven verdict and spent three long years fighting the Scottish legal system later – that the unproven verdict means that those who are raped are unjustly left without justice and those who rape have no consequences, no sanction for their actions.

"What message does this send to society?

"Reporting rape will never be easy, but I should not have to fight the justice system in my quest for justice. It did not have to be so difficult.

"I'm asking the Scottish government to give the survivors a chance. There is no convincing argument to keep the verdict out of date, it's time for unscrupulous scrap forever. "

Stephen Coxen "data-title =" Stephen Coxen's Judgment "data copyright holder =" PA Wire "date-copyright-notice =" Images of PA / PA PA "" -Date of credit = "Jane Barlow" data-usage -terms = "" srcset = "https://image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2/image/production/3180b68b65da11cd87d446d299be4f98Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTQyMTg5OTA1/2.36961762.jpg?w=320 320w, https://image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2 / image / production /3180b68b65da11cd87d446d299be4f98Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTQyMTg5OTA1/2.36961762.jpg?w=640 640W, 1280w https://image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2/image/production/3180b68b65da11cd87d446d299be4f98Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTQyMTg5OTA1/2.36961762.jpg?w=1280 "size =" (max -width: 767px) 89vw, (max width: 1000px) 54vw, (max width: 1071px) 543px, 580px "/>
<figcaption>Stephen Coxen denied rape and the case was found unproven in criminal trial (Jane Barlow / PA)</figcaption></figure>
<p>Rape Crisis Scotland is launching the End Not Proven campaign together with Miss M.</p>
<p>They claim that in 2016-17, only 39% of rape cases and attempted rape resulted in convictions, the lowest rate for any type of crime.</p>
<p>Almost 30% of acquittals have not been proven, compared to 17% for all crimes and offenses.</p>
<p>The campaign is supported by Engender, the Scottish Rights Rights Center and Zero Tolerance.</p>
<p>Scottish Women's Aid, which is also supporting the campaign, said: "Unproven is a third verdict that disproportionately affects rape survivors, many of whom are also survivors of domestic abuse.</p>
<p>"A verdict that is often interpreted as & # 39; we probably believe in you, but we do not have the evidence & # 39; is just another element of a system of justice that fails us several times.</p>
<p>"Unproven is not justice and we are waiting for Miss M and those who want an end to this non-verdict."</p>
<p>Some legal experts, however, believe that the three-verdict system should be maintained.</p>
<p>Brian McConnachie QC told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland program: "Juries understand the fact that there are two verdicts of acquittal and the choice between them is simply a way of telling the court which of them feels better in their verdict case.</p>
<p>"I do not think it's an easy way out." They are told that both are verdicts of acquittal, and therefore, if they were not finding someone unproven, if they did not exist, they would not hold them guilty. "</p>
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