Major Sandy Moffat, who died on 13 July 2021, was representative of a breed of Scottish lawyer who were effectively ‘twice a citizen’, combining dedication to the high traditions of his profession with long and loyal service in the Territorial Army during the Cold War. Justice was more important than profile to Sandy and that defined the path he chose and earned the respect and admiration of the many who found, in him, their champion.
The University of Edinburgh whetted Sandy’s thirst for the challenging and the obscure; his enthusiasm ranging from tax and company law to the Scottish witchcraft trials. By the age of 24 he was a partner in a well-known Edinburgh law firm but was perhaps always destined to go his own way. In Alexander Moffat & Co, his client base grew as his reputation flourished and, resisting the temptations of expansion, he focused on the needs of others, both large corporations and individuals, loyally serving all as a sole practitioner for 35 years.
As a Writer to Her Majesty’s Signet (WS), Sandy Moffat’s talents were acknowledged by his peers in the Scottish legal profession but it was his earthy personal style and dogged determination that won the hearts of Scottish soldiers; of both the Royal Artillery and other regiments as well as a wide range of clients, reflecting the breadth of his interests at home and abroad. Farming, the import of rum and the boardroom challenges of different Scottish football clubs, were each in turn the focus of his attention.
In the early years of the 21st century, when amalgamation of the already reduced Scottish Infantry Regiments seemed, to many, inevitable, Sandy ploughed a lone furrow, finding himself in a limelight which he never sought. With time and political tide against him, he argued before Scotland’s supreme civil court, the Court of Session on behalf of the trustees of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB).The detail matters not, now and the judgment against him is fact. Equally clear is the view within the KOSB that their case was soundly argued by an officer of the Royal Artillery whose name they, in turn, defend to this day.
From the many tributes which followed Sandy’s death, these words of Brigadier Allan Alstead Late KOSB bear repetition; “He will be a very sad loss indeed as he worked so tirelessly to save the KOSB. We shall not see his like again.”
In the early 1980s, Sandy Moffat did a fine job as Battery Commander 207 (Scottish) Air Defence Battery Royal Artillery (Volunteers). He maintained his Battery at the required states of training and readiness to reinforce the British Army of the Rhine, while also responsible for the firing of Royal Salutes at Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle; all in addition to practising at law. Service was in his blood and time and effort, he never measured.
Sandy Moffat was an unusual man. He was more often in his office than in his home, even as his age advanced over 70. His selfless commitment to justice was clear to all. When the garage behind his office burnt down, amidst speculation that he might have been targeted, he made no public comment; neither did he waver in his loyalty to those he represented. That charred space behind Alva Street in Edinburgh is perhaps, in itself, a monument to Sandy Moffat and I certainly think of him as I walk by.
Major Alexander Douglas Moffat TD WS is survived by his wife, Alison and his sons, Robert, Alexander and John. His daughter, Caroline predeceased him.
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