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Organised Crime, Anonymous Witnesses and Fair Trials in Ireland: Responding to R v Davis
1University of Aberdeen
Citation Information: International Commentary on Evidence. Volume 6, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1554-4567, DOI: 10.2202/1554-4567.1086, February 2009
- Published Online:
This article assesses the absence of witness anonymity in Ireland, and explores the likelihood of its future adoption, using the recent decision of the House of Lords in R v Davis and the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008 as a catalyst for this discussion. It examines the potential threat posed by anonymous evidence to the constitutional right to a fair trial in Ireland, and it analyses current incursions on the right to cross-examine witnesses, which have received judicial imprimatur.However, despite the lack of anonymous witness in the courts and in political and legal debate, three developments suggest that Irish policy makers may not remain averse to such a tactic: the erosion of the right to cross-examination in emergency legislation; the use of anonymous witnesses in civil proceedings; and the desire to incorporate third party interests and rights in criminal justice matters.This article concludes by considering ostensibly less problematic means of protecting intimidated witnesses and their evidence, as alternatives to anonymous evidence.