The so-called “Double Jeopardy” Law, which states that noone can be tried twice for the same crime, is set to be disbandoned for murder cases in the UK.
A little bit of history to set the scene:
A few years ago a young, black teenager called Stephen Lawrence was killed by a group of men. The police, sad to say, didn’t take the case as seriously as they should have done - I believe that there was a tacit assumption that it may have been gang-related. Of course, it was no such thing. Rather it was a racially motivated murder carried out by a bunch of racists. The thing was, the police screwed up the case so much that the murderers were able to successfully avoid prosecution. They were later successfully prosecuted in a civil trial and IIRC have admitted guilt. But they are not in jail.
An inquiry led by Lord McPherson was set up into the way the police handled these affairs. I note in passing that amongst other things he declared that the police force was “institutionally racist” - the systems in place had inherant disadvantages in them working against ethnic minorities. That however would be another debate.
But germaine to this debate: Lord McPherson also found that the double jeopardy law should be repealed in respect of certain cases.
The Law Commission then took this on board. After 20 months they have concurred and it looks as if will soon be possible to quash acquittals in murder trials where there is “reliable and compelling new evidence of guilt”.
So what do you lot make of this? Is the double jeopardy law a vital cog in our justice system that prevents police harassment? Or does it just prevent justice from taking place? I myself must admit to a certain ambivalence on this matter and could be swayed either way.