NICOLA Sturgeon has said it is “incredibly important” to listen to rape survivors to better understand how to improve the criminal justice system.

The First Minister met a campaigner, known only as Miss M, at the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

Miss M has called for Scotland’s not proven verdict to be scrapped and said the measure would help “every rape survivor in Scotland”.

She had previously pursued – and won – a civil case against her attacker after a jury originally found the case against him not proven.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Miss M said: “A not proven verdict doesn’t feel like an end – you’ve been though this process for maybe two years, three years, and at the end of this process you expect it to be the end. But really it isn’t over for us. Some people say it is never going to be an ending with a not proven verdict.”

At a campaign event in Midlothian, Sturgeon said: “I think it’s incredibly important that we listen to survivors like Miss M who has been incredibly courageous in how she has conducted herself in the effort to get justice. It’s important that we listen to those experiences to understand how the criminal justice system, in particular, deals with victims and the improvements that can be made to, as far as possible, lessen the trauma that victims experience.

READ MORE: FM meets Miss M to discuss 'not proven' verdict in rape cases

She added: “Miss M, of course, is campaigning for the abolition of the not proven verdict – the Scottish Government recently carried out some jury research to understand better the factors that are at play when juries make decisions.

“So listening to those insights is very important to make sure we’ve got a justice system that is learning from these experiences as much as possible.”

Miss M’s civil case, where there was a lower burden of proof, resulted in a sheriff ruling that Stephen Coxen had raped her and ordering him to pay her £80,000.

She said that since the landmark case she had seen an increase in the number of women interested in pursuing civil actions.

The woman continued: “I got a not proven verdict and my case was failed in a number of ways that I should have gone back and I could go back to complain about, but I decided I was going to take a civil case and go through all the evidence and have the right witnesses

turn up. Now it is about what can I do for other women in Scotland, what can I do with my energy and the fact that I am able to speak up and a lot of other people haven’t found their voice yet.

“Now what I am doing is investing my time and trying to do something, highlighting that actually we are having jury members sit on trials where they do not know what a not proven verdict is.”

The study Sturgeon referred to concluded that “individual jurors were significantly less likely to favour a guilty verdict when the not proven verdict was available”. The research also found there was “evidence of some inconsistency in jurors’ understanding of what the not proven verdict means”.