NH V HMA [2019] HCJ 46

https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-source/cos-general-docs/pdf-docs-for-opinions/2019hcj46.pdf (High Court, 17 April 2019)

Regarding the use of accepted grounds in Children’s Hearings as evidence in criminal proceedings.  

NH raised a preliminary plea minute in the High Court of Justiciary against the use of his acceptance of Children’s Hearing grounds within ongoing criminal proceedings. NH was accused by his daughter, MN, of committing numerous sexual offences against her. The circumstances resulted in MN being referred to the Reporter and a Children’s Hearing took place. NH, as a relevant person, denied the grounds and they were consequently referred to the Sheriff Court for proof. Under advice from his solicitor and Counsel that to do so would not prejudice him in criminal proceedings, NH accepted amended grounds and supporting facts which reflected the accusations made by MN. Consequently, the accepted grounds were communicated to the Crown who commenced criminal proceedings in which it intended to lead evidence of the acceptance of the grounds by NH. 

Lord Matthews held that the Crown were entitled to seek information from SCRA and use it for the purposes of criminal prosecution under section 179 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011. This included the acceptance of grounds in the Hearings system by a suspect in criminal proceedings.  

Scottish Legal News article of 10 July 2019: ‘Crown entitled to use evidence from children’s hearing to prosecute alleged sex offender, but evidence held ‘inadmissible’ due to erroneous legal advice’ 

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