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Rape victim raises 'not proven' verdict with First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon met a campaigner, known only as Miss M, at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

Holyrood: Miss M met with the First Minister.
Holyrood: Miss M met with the First Minister. Pixabay

Nicola Sturgeon has said it is "incredibly important" to listen to rape survivors to better understand how to improve the criminal justice system.

The First Minister met a campaigner, known only as Miss M, at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

Miss M has called for Scotland's not proven verdict to be scrapped and said the measure would help "every rape survivor in Scotland".

She had previously taken the step of pursuing a civil case against her attacker after a jury originally found the case against him not proven.

At a campaign event in Midlothian, Ms Sturgeon said: "I think it's incredibly important that we listen to survivors like Miss M who has been incredibly courageous in how she has conducted herself in the effort to get justice.

"But it's important that we listen to those experiences to understand how the criminal justice system in particular deals with victims and the improvements that can be made to, as far as possible, lessen the trauma that victims experience.

"But also that we listen to the real life experiences of victims as we consider longer-term reforms to the justice system."

She added: "Miss M, of course, is campaigning for the abolition of the not proven verdict - the Scottish Government recently carried out some jury research to understand better the factors that are at play when juries make decisions.

"So listening to those insights is very important to make sure we've got a justice system that is learning from these experiences as much as possible."

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf also met with Ms M and praised her "courage".

He said the jury research carried out found "inconsistent" views on the meaning and effect of the not proven verdict.

Consideration of broader criminal justice reforms in light of the findings would include "exploring the option of moving from the three-verdicts system to a two-verdicts system", he added.

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