PF v Christopher Wilson 2019

The appeal court at the High Court in Edinburgh has made an observation and took criticism of a Sheriff’s decision to remove a screen from an alleged victim of domestic abuse that she was giving evidence behind. This was to allow identification to take place of the accused and authorised by the Crown and the Sheriff. The Appeal judges said even in this event this should not have occurred and is in violation of the vulnerable witness legislation. In concluding an appeal against conviction, which was partially successful.

Lord Carloway said: “The procedure adopted by the procurator fiscal depute, and assented to by the sheriff, in removing the screen at the conclusion of the evidence in chief, should not go without comment. “Section 271A of the 1995 Act provides that a person such as the complainer is entitled as a vulnerable witness (s 271(1)(iv)) to give evidence with the benefit of standard special measures, including the use of a screen which conceals the accused from her view (s 271K(1)). The procedure adopted defeated the purpose of the legislation and should not have occurred. There was no need for dock identification by the complainer of the appellant as her partner.”