New Lord Advocate makes pledge to victims of crime

Scotland’s new Lord Advocate has said she will ensure the prosecution service treats victims of crime with “integrity, professionalism and respect”.

Dorothy Bain QC, who was sworn in as the Scottish Government’s senior legal adviser in Edinburgh’s Court of Session on Tuesday morning, also said she would give the review of her new role “all appropriate assistance”.

The government has said it will consider reform of the traditional role of Lord Advocate as head of the prosecution service as well as principal legal adviser to government ministers.

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The move comes in the wake of tension between the dual responsibilities highlighted during the Holyrood inquiry into the handling of complaints against former first minister Alex Salmond.

Dorothy Bain QC has been sworn in as the new Lord Advocate.
Dorothy Bain QC has been sworn in as the new Lord Advocate.

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Following the swearing-in ceremony, which was presided over by Scotland’s most senior judge Lord Carloway and which saw Ruth Charteris QC become Solicitor General, Ms Bain said: "It is a great honour to be Scotland’s Lord Advocate and I am privileged to be head of the systems for the prosecution of crime and investigation of deaths in Scotland.

"These are duties I, and those who work on my behalf, will discharge independently of any other person.

"I am delighted to be joined as a law officer by Ruth Charteris QC. I am fortunate to have such a talented lawyer serving as Solicitor General for Scotland.

"Interest in the roles and work of the law officers has never been higher and the First Minister has committed to a review of the functions of Lord Advocate. I will give that review all appropriate assistance.”

Ms Bain, who along with Ms Charteris had their nominations for the roles approved by the Scottish Parliament last week, said she would not carry lightly the responsibility of the "trust placed in public prosecutors”.

She said: “I have been privileged to serve as Crown Counsel, prosecuting in the public interest, for many years. In that time, working alongside many other dedicated and talented lawyers, I concluded some of the most serious cases to come before the Scottish courts.

"Through this experience, I have learned that people who find themselves a victim or witness to crime can find it to be a bewildering experience. I have seen first-hand the toll that can take.

"Their existence becomes transformed by the acts of another and they are entitled to feel a whole range of emotions.

"I know there is no right or wrong way they should feel – but I also know there is a correct way they should be treated. On behalf of Scotland’s prosecutors, I pledge that we shall treat people with integrity, professionalism, and respect.

"The serious cases I have been involved in have given me an unshakeable belief in the importance of the public service prosecutors perform in delivering justice for communities, in giving victims a voice in court and in protecting the rights of people accused of crime.”

Ms Bain also said she would endeavour to support court staff across Scotland, not just those involved in trials in the High Courts of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

"The hard work done in local courts is vitally important and helps keep our communities safe from harm caused by offending behaviour,” she said.

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