Law officers quit

Scotland’s lord advocate and solicitor general resign

Lord Wolffe: apologised

Scotland’s top law officers are stepping down following recent controversy over their dual role.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC and Solicitor General, Alison Di Rollo QC, have both announced their intention to leave office when replacements have been appointed.

The lord advocate is the head of Scotland’s prosecution body and is the principal legal adviser to the Scottish government. The solicitor general is his deputy.

In England and Wales, there is an attorney general who gives legal advice to the UK government, as well as a director of public prosecutions.

In February, former first minister Alex Salmond said Mr Wolffe should resign over his role in the Scottish government’s handling of harassment complaints against him.

Mr Wolffe denied any political influence relating to Mr Salmond’s criminal prosecution. However, there were calls for the roles of prosecutor and adviser to be separated.

Mr Wolffe made a public apology over the wrongful prosecution of two men following a fraud investigation relating to the sale of Rangers.

He was not the Lord Advocate at the time of the initial prosecutions of David Whitehouse and Paul Clark.

They had been appointed joint administrators of the club in 2012 but were arrested in 2014 regarding their involvement with the administration.

The pair were later awarded more than £20m after charges brought against them were either dropped or dismissed.

The First Minister will nominate new law officers and, subject to approval of her nominees by the Scottish Parliament, will recommend their appointment to the Queen.

Following news of the resignations, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “These are complex and difficult roles and they deserve credit for the work that they have done.

“With the departure of the Lord Advocate this is an opportunity to consider how the role works going forward.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that now is the time to separate the Lord Advocate’s position as the Scottish Government’s legal advisor and appoint an independent director of prosecutions to run the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”

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