Craigmount wins the argument to take top debating prize

TWO pupils from Craigmount High School in Edinburgh have won the Law Society of Scotland's Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament.

John Craig and Alistair Hayes beat three teams from independent schools in the final, at the Church of Scotland's Assembly Hall, Edinburgh, on Thursday.

The motion was: "This House Regrets the Act of Union 1707", reflecting the tournament's link with A Union for a' that, a project to mark the 300th anniversary of the union of the English and Scottish parliaments.

The Craigmount pair won 1,000 for their school and will now have the chance to work with a professional film-maker to create a film on a topic relating to the union or democracy.

The teams' debating skills were judged by Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, Jon Dye, the chairman of the English Speaking Union, and Kirsty Russell, who has twice been a judge at the World Universities Debating Championships.

The other finalists were: Neil Dewar and Lauren Pringle, from the High School of Dundee, who finished as runners-up; Claire Crawford and Fiona Waugh, from the High School of Glasgow; and Gavin O'Leary and Rebecca Mackintosh, also from the High School of Glasgow.

Richard Henderson, vice-president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "Each of the teams gave excellent performances, which were both animated and articulate, and I'm delighted to congratulate not only the winners, John and Alistair, but all of the finalists on their skilful and intelligent arguments."

Collette Paterson, the new lawyers coordinator at the society, said: "It has been a terrific event. Our partnership with A Union for a' that has provided this year's tournament with a fantastic theme.

"Pupils taking part have really been able to explore the nature of the union and the impact it had in 1707 and has today, which was reflected in tonight's debate at the Assembly Hall - the fourth impressive building we have used in this year's tournament - by virtue of it being part of the 1707 project."

She added: "I'd like to congratulate everyone who took part. Each of the teams has done extremely well to reach the final and the judges have had a very difficult job in choosing an overall winner."

The Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament was launched in 1999.