Judge says police tell lies in court: Independent witnesses 'should hear confessions'

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A LEADING Scottish judge yesterday accused police officers of telling lies in court in order to secure convictions.

Lord McCluskey, a former Solicitor-General for Scotland, said off-the-record confessions to police should no longer be admissible evidence in Scotland.

'In my view, not just in Scotland, but south of the border and elsewhere, the police do manufacture false confessions, perjure, and plant evidence,' he said.

'One always hopes it is disappearing now, but it has not fully disappeared.'

Lord McCluskey, a judge since 1984, sits in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. He told an audience of law students in Aberdeen that he was sceptical when juries were told of confessions made to only one police officer.

'What worries me is this - let us think when these confessions are made,' he said. 'In my time some of the most damning confessions have been made or have been said to have been made in the back of a police car on the way from the accused's house.'

Lord McCluskey said it was 'surprising' that an accused person would tell all to the police and then refuse to say anything on-the-record or in front of independent witnesses.

He called for facilities to be made constantly available to allow accused people to repeat alleged confessions in front of independent witnesses.

'They should be able to be placed before a judicial officer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,' he said. 'We have to find the resources to enable this to be done.'

But his comments drew criticism from members of the police. Douglas Keil, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: 'I think that Lord McCluskey has made an irresponsible and sweeping generalisation about generations of police officers.'

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said it was dangerous to generalise about any individuals or about the service in particular.

''It is difficult to comment without seeing the full speech and looking at the comments in context,' the spokesman said. 'However, any generalisations are dangerous.'