THE Scottish Conservatives want to scrap the ‘not proven’ verdict in criminal trials.

The party will include the pledge in its manifesto for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative Leader, made the commitment at the party’s annual conference being held virtually this year.

Mr Ross said: “We are fully committed to scrapping not proven. Many people who have suffered the horror of serious crime have had their pain compounded by this damaging and confusing verdict.

“Having examined this issue in detail, and having listened to victims, it clearly serves no useful purpose in a modern justice system.

“The time is right for Scotland to give jurors the clear choice between guilty and not guilty.”

The Tories have the backing of Joe Duffy whose 19 year old daughter Amanda was murdered in 1992.

In a criminal trial at the High Court in Glasgow, the man accused of her murder, Francis Auld, was found not proven, only to later be found responsible for Amanda’s death in a civil case brought by her family.

Auld died of pancreatic cancer in 2017.

Mr Duffy said: “Myself and my family are delighted the Scottish Conservatives are including a proposed change to the three-verdict system in their manifesto and advocating to end the contentious not proven verdict.

“The return of a not proven verdict exacerbates the trauma and loss for victims and their families. It is misunderstood, unnecessary and out of date.

“We sincerely hope there will be cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament for this proposal for the benefit of everyone affected by the criminal justice system.”

Another campaigner identified as Miss M who successfully sued her alleged rapist after he received a not proven verdict in 2015.

She said: “I began the End Not Proven campaign in collaboration with Rape Crisis Scotland two years ago this week.

“I am pleased to see political parties recognising this issue. I have met with each party and expressed my concerns to the First Minister and hope to see continued support.

“We have the evidence, and Scotland’s survivors and their families have spoken out. It’s time to end the use of not proven - a misunderstood acquittal verdict which causes untold damage.”

Rape Crisis wants to see the verdict scrapped.

It says: “The not proven verdict is used disproportionately in rape cases.

“In 2016/17, only 39% of rape and attempted rape cases resulted in convictions, the lowest rate for any type of crime.

“Nearly 30% of acquittals were not proven, compared with 17% for all crimes and offences.”