Mr James Chalmers Appears on 'Scotland at Ten'

James Chalmers, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, appeared on BBC Radio on Monday night commenting on recent litigation about the right of suspects to have access to a lawyer when being interviewed by the police.

James Chalmers, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, appeared on BBC Radio on Monday night commenting on recent litigation about the right of suspects to have access to a lawyer when being interviewed by the police.

At present, there is no such right in Scotland (in contrast, for example, to England). Speaking on Scotland at Ten, Mr Chalmers explained that Scotland has historically chosen to offer different safeguards to those being interviewed by the police: no-one can be convicted solely on the basis of a confession (because of the requirement of corroboration) and silence at the police station cannot be held against the accused at their trial. However, a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights - and a decision expected from the UK Supreme Court later in the year - may mean that this has to change.

The pending Supreme Court case has led to media speculation about large numbers of offenders having their convictions quashed because they were interviewed under a system which may be held to be incompatible with human rights. Mr Chalmers argued that this has been overstated: there are strict time limits on bringing appeals and the courts are likely to take the view that individuals who delayed in contesting their conviction had waived any right to bring a challenge.