Ian Craine argues that the presumption of innocence ‘is not the same thing as an assumption’, and also seems to regard it as something more than a ‘rule of evidence’. He has against him the US Supreme Court which, in Taylor v Kentucky, stated: ‘The presumption of innocence … is better characterised as an "assumption" that is indulged in the absence of contrary evidence.’
Of course, I share Mr Craine’s view that ‘within court proceedings’ that indulgence is a vitally important one. But the whole point is that Chris Grayling’s original remarks were not made ‘within court proceedings’. They were a commonsense acknowledgement of the undesirability of spending excessive sums of public money on defending criminals.
The refusal of your correspondents (now including Mr Craine) to distinguish between the kinds of assumption appropriate to the highly artificial world of ‘court proceedings’, and those which we make in the ordinary course of social and personal living, demonstrates perfectly what I meant by lawyers who are preoccupied with professional considerations to the detriment of their more fundamental role as ‘moral agents, rational beings and citizens of a state’.
Martin R Maloney, London N3