Controversial proposals to pilot rape trials without a jury should be ditched, lawyers have said, after a Holyrood committee failed to give its backing to the move.

The Law Society of Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to abandon plans to hold trials for rape and attempted rape before a judge alone, instead of having a judge and jury.

The measure is included in the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill, which is currently being considered by Holyrood.

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However, MSPs on the Criminal Justice Committee revealed they were split on the proposal with the four SNP MSPs supporting the move, while the two Labour and two Conservative MSPs on the committee were opposed to it.

Sheila Webster, Law Society of Scotland president, said the committee report "further underlines" its concerns about "key elements of the Bill".

Describing the proposed pilot for juryless rape trials as the "most controversial" part of the Government's legislation, she added: "The lack of consensus confirms this plan is flawed and is lacking detail and supporting evidence.

"It should be removed from the Bill."

Angela Constance, Justice Secretary, said: "The committee heard compelling evidence from many witnesses that our justice system is not working for victims of sexual offences.

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"These proposals are a result of the recommendations of the independent review carried out by Lady Dorrian, Scotland's second most senior judge. That review recommended that we should pilot an alternative to jury trials, on a time-limited basis, to let us have a properly informed debate on how our system delivers justice for victims of rape."

Constance said she noted the "differing views from committee members on the proposals" as she stressed she is "keen to build as much consensus as possible".

The Justice Secretary pledged to "continue to work with and listen to the voices of members from all parties, of partners from across the justice system, and of victims themselves".

Constance added: "Survivors and families have shown immense bravery and dedication in campaigning for this to improve our legal system."