Local MSP Gil Paterson has lodged a proposed Bill at the Scottish Parliament to change the procedure for a second post mortem examination in cases of murder.
Mr Paterson began working on the proposed change in legislation after meeting with the family of Paige Docherty following her tragic murder in March 2016. He had his first meeting with Police Scotland to discuss the issue in July 2016.
Since then Mr Paterson has consulted extensively meeting with forensic pathology experts, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service in 2016 as well as accompanying Paige’s mother, Pamela Munro, to a meeting with the First Minister.
In 2017 he met again with the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates on several occasions, the Law Society of Scotland and the then Justice Secretary.
After his comprehensive research, Mr Paterson arrived at a proposal that he says would make the process of requesting a second post mortem examination more transparent and easier to understand for the families of victims while at the same time protecting the absolute right of the accused to a fair trial.
Mr Paterson’s suggestion is that there should be a time limit for the defence lawyers to conduct a second post mortem examination and, only if there were sound reasons why they could not do so within the agreed time, they would be able to apply to the court for an extension to the time limit.
Speaking about his proposed Bill, Mr Paterson said:
“This is an extremely complex issue which is why it has taken such a lot of work to arrive at this proposed change to legislation. It is in everyone’s interest that the right person is found guilty and no one, least of all the families of victims would want to see that interfered with. Obviously, it is an issue which needed careful thought and sensitivity never forgetting that I was working with very traumatised families and loved ones.
“However, I believe it is possible to protect the right to a fair trial while, at the same time, giving victims’ families greater certainty about when they will be able to hold a funeral for their loved ones.
“I’m dedicating this work to the memory of Paige Docherty and to her mother, Pamela Munro, and family.”