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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-14316: Kezia Dugdale (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 2 February 2018

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-14044 by Michael Matheson on 31 January 2018, what steps the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal is taking to ensure that the views of (a) families of victims and (b) witnesses will be heard in its review of post-mortem examination protocol.




Answered by: James Wolffe QC 26 February 2018

Post Mortem examination is a necessary step in the investigation of suspicious deaths. In law, the Defence have a right to instruct a defence post mortem examination to properly test the evidence against an accused person. Failure to recognise this right would potentially jeopardise any subsequent criminal proceedings against an accused person in relation to the death.

In consultation with the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, and Forensic Pathologists, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is reviewing post mortem examination protocols to enable more effective consultation between pathologists instructed by the Crown and Defence. Effective consultation would support an informed defence decision as to whether a second physical post mortem examination was required and may reduce not only the number of required defence examinations but also delays in the return of deceased persons to their families, reflecting the views of families.