SCoJeC met the Solicitor General to continue the discussion about the use of alternative methods of post-mortem examination.
This follows from our meeting with the Lord Advocate last year, and our very successful round-table discussion in June with representatives of Crown Office, forensic pathology services, radiologists, and representatives of the Muslim community in June.
During another very positive discussion the Solicitor General, Frank Mulholland QC, assured us that Crown Office are committed to encouraging the use of "view and grant" as an alternative to surgical post-mortem. They are aware of the importance of this to both the Jewish and other minority communities, and therefore share our concern about the very significant differences between the different regional centres (1% in Glasgow, compared with 30-35% in Dundee and Lothians). Discussion also touched on the way in which changes to GP deputising services, hospital procedures, and electronic medical records might be having an effect.
As a result of our representations, Crown Office are about to issue new guidance to Procurators Fiscal and pathologists in order to encourage them to use non-invasive methods, and to stress that view and grant is not an alternative to post-mortem, but is an entirely acceptable form of post-mortem in appropriate cases. Civil servants also said that the Scottish Government was open to proposals for research into the strengths and weaknesses of various radiological procedures (MRI, CT scan, etc) in order to increase the alternatives available to pathologists.
During our meeting, the Solicitor General also reiterated the Government's commitment to taking effective action against antisemitic crime, and in particular the use of the internet to spread hatred. He noted that the Lord Advocate and the First Minister had both written to editors to remind them of their responsibilities to moderate the readers' comments that appear on their websites, and noted that there had been a significant improvement.