Ex-lord advocate Fraser of Carmyllie in alleged flight row

LORD Fraser of Carmyllie, the former senior law officer for Scotland, has been charged with disrupting a flight on a journey from London, it emerged last night.

The Tory peer, who used to be the lord advocate, was on a ScotAirways flight from London City Airport to Dundee on Tuesday night when the incident occurred.

Police met the aircraft when it touched down and Lord Fraser was kept back while the other passengers disembarked.

In what is a major embarrassment for one of Scotland's best-known legal figures, Lord Fraser, 61, was taken to Dundee police headquarters, arrested and charged.

A witness, who did not want to be named, said: "He [Lord Fraser] asked perfectly politely to explain why, when he had a club ticket, he had been put in the back of the plane.

"From what I could see, they made no effort to explain. I heard no raised voices or anything during the flight."

Another passenger on the flight said: "All I noticed was that they kept the light on for seatbelts, even though we were flying in ideal conditions.

"I noticed that the girl who was dishing out the drinks dashed up to the back of the plane and then went into the cockpit to report something to the pilot.

"When I got off the plane, Lady Fraser was waiting."

Flights had been delayed or cancelled throughout the day because of fog in London, and Lord Fraser's original flight, which had been due to arrive at 6pm, was cancelled.

He boarded a later one, which touched down at 9:20pm.

Police sources confirmed last night that Lord Fraser had been reported to the procurator-fiscal for an alleged offence under Section 78 of the Air Navigation Order 2005. The order prohibits the use of threatening, abusive or insulting language towards a member of aircraft crew or disorderly behaviour.

A spokesman for Tayside Police said last night: "A 61-year-old man has been reported to the procurator-fiscal following an alleged incident on board a ScotAirways flight from London City to Dundee Airport." A spokesman for the Crown Office, which Lord Fraser used to lead, confirmed that the prosecuting authorities were investigating the incident. He said: "Crown counsel have considered the report from Tayside Police in this matter and have instructed further inquiries before any decision is taken on proceedings."

ScotAirways has started its own investigation into the incident.

A spokesman said yesterday: "ScotAirways has no comment to make on any passenger who travels on any of its services.

"Any incidents on flights are taken very seriously and subject to an internal investigation," the spokesman added.

From difficult beginnings to bon viveur much in demand for challenging tasks

A LAWYER, MP and peer, Lord Fraser came to public prominence when he chaired the inquiry into the Holyrood Parliament building fiasco in 2003.

His success put him in demand for public inquiries throughout the world. He is due to go out to the Ivory Coast next month to chair a public inquiry into a fatal pollution incident in the African country.

Lord Fraser lives in Carmyllie, near Arbroath, but travels to London regularly on business and to go to Westminster.

A source at the Faculty of Advocates stressed that being charged with such an offence would not affect Lord Fraser's legal career because he had not practised as an advocate for many years.

He recently became the highest-profile unionist politician to voice his belief that Scotland could survive under independence. He poured scorn on Labour Party claims that Scotland was dependent on English taxpayers for its economic survival.

As Peter Fraser, he entered Westminster at the age of 34 in 1979 as the Scottish Conservative member for Angus South, moving to become the MP for Angus East in 1983.

Ejected by the voters in 1987, he was elevated to the Lords in 1989, where he became a minister. From 1992 to 1995 he was minister of state at the Scottish Office covering home affairs and health. He was then minister of state at the Department of Trade and Industry with a responsibility for export promotion and overseas investment, with particular emphasis on the oil and gas industry. In 1996, he became minister for energy.

He served as both solicitor-general and lord advocate for Scotland during the last Conservative government. He also took charge of the biggest criminal investigation in the history of the UK, the Lockerbie bombing, as lord advocate.

Lord Fraser resigned from his post as deputy leader of the Lords in 1998 in protest against the treatment of the leader, Viscount Cranborne, by the then Tory leader, William Hague.

Although he has been an active member of the Lords, he has not taken on any front-line jobs in politics since that time.

A keen golfer and skier, Lord Fraser is also known as a bon viveur with a love of curries and wine. He has an interest in a South African vineyard and has attracted publicity as a judge in curry competitions.

He was admitted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee on New Year's Day after a minor heart attack, but was soon back home following surgery.

Lord Fraser had a difficult start to life. He was growing up the son of a Scottish minister in Zambia when he lost his mother. Seeing that he was on the verge of losing both parents, Sir Anthony Eden, the then prime minister, intervened at the request of his friend, Brendan Bracken, to help the 12-year-old boy. Sir Anthony was a trustee at Loretto and, aware that the prestigious Musselburgh private school had a fund for scholarships, secured the school's help for the youngster.

Loretto took the boy in, and Sir Anthony's decision to find a scholarship fund to pay for his education set the 12-year-old Peter Lovat Fraser on a course from which he has never looked back.

He was elected to the Faculty of Advocates in 1969, and for two years from 1972 he lectured part-time in constitutional law at Heriot-Watt University.

In 1979, he was appointed standing junior counsel for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and became a Queen's Counsel in 1982.