Scotland's new Lord Advocate and Solicitor General appointed by MSPs

A historic appointment was made by MSPs when they agreed to install women to two of the most senior legal roles in Scotland for the first time.

Dorothy Bain QC was approved as the new Lord Advocate, while Ruth Charteris QC was selected as Scotland's next Solicitor General.

In proposing the pair to replace James Wolffe and Alison Di Rollo, Nicola Sturgeon said it was “worth noting that if these appointments are approved by Parliament, this will mark the first occasion on which the roles of Lord Advocate and Solicitor General have both been held by women at the same time”.

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Who is Scotland's new Lord Advocate and when will she start?
Dorothy Bain QC is the new Lord Advocate.

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“That would represent a further welcome step towards more equal representation at the most senior levels in the legal profession and in public life more generally,” she said.

“However, while that may be – and I think it is – a welcome additional benefit of their appointments, it is not the reason for their appointments.

“Fundamentally, I am nominating Dorothy Bain and Ruth Charteris because they are both supremely well qualified for the roles they are being asked to do.”

However, Ms Bain’s appointment comes as demands to divide the powers of the Lord Advocate – who acts as both the chief legal adviser to the Scottish Government and Scotland's top prosecutor – continue to be made by MSPs.

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Ms Sturgeon said there was a "strong, prima facie case" for the separation of powers, repeating her election pledge to consult on whether changes should be made.

“However, it is important that Parliament considers the precise details of any reform carefully,” she said. “Change, depending on the nature of it, may require primary legislation including possible amendment to the Scotland Act.

“There are complex issues involved, but I can confirm today that the government will take forward a consultation in due course.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said while he was confident Ms Bain would handle her post “with dedication and professionalism”, the dual role of Lord Advocate represents a “serious conflict”.

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He said: “We have raised concerns about the dual role since devolution began and those concerns have only become more acute as time has passed.

“The problems created by the dual role cannot be rectified by the skill and commitment of the person holding the office.

“The issue is systemic, it is inherent. By their nature these dual roles at times conflict with each other.

"So while we wish Dorothy Bain QC great success, I hope this is the last time we appoint a Lord Advocate under the current dual remit.

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“I hope in the new Lord Advocate we will appoint someone with the experience to speak truth to power at this pivotal point in Scotland’s history, as we seek to rebuild from the Covid pandemic.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "We will proudly support Ruth Charteris and Dorothy Bain in taking on these vital roles in Scotland's public life, but we will also call on colleagues across this Parliament to make it contingent on us to reform these offices going forward.”

Maggie Chapman for the Scottish Greens praised Ms Bain’s “strong track record on prosecuting sexual offences”.

As a result of Ms Bain’s appointment, her husband Lord Turnbull, is standing aside from criminal hearings.

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