Clause 42 of the criminal justice and immigration bill, which comes before the House of Lords next week, provides that appeal court judges must not rule that a conviction is unsafe if they think "there is no reasonable doubt about the appellant\’s guilt". On the surface, that seems to be a reasonable law. But it is not. It is objectionable on three grounds: it is contrary to the rule of law, it could encourage unacceptable conduct by the police, and it is unnecessary.
There are good reasons why democratic countries lay down rules and safeguards governing the way criminal investigations and trials are conducted. The rule of law is about the principle of fair trials and due process. It includes the need to ensure, as far as possible, that the innocent are not convicted, that no one should be found guilty unless there is unpolluted evidence against him or her, and that there is an adequate system of appeal. Such principles distinguish democracies from totalitarian states. Diminishing the appeal court\’s powers to quash convictions is a breach of the rule of law.
The real problem is "no reasonable doubt about the appellant\’s guilt".
If we haven\’t followed to rules, rules which are there to enable us to make a decision with no reasonable doubt, then how can we have no reasonable doubt?