Lord Advocate vows to act independently



Dorothy Bain QC

Scotland’s new law officers have been sworn in at a ceremony at the Court of Session.

The Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC, and Solicitor General for Scotland, Ruth Charteris QC, were nominated by the First Minister and then unanimously approved for appointment by the Scottish Parliament last week. They received their Royal warrants from Her Majesty The Queen on Friday.

This is the first time both law officer positions have been held simultaneously by women.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, which was presided over by the Lord President, Lord Carloway, the Lord Advocate made a statement.

“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.

“The trust placed in public prosecutors is the most significant that a society can bestow. I do not carry that responsibility lightly and promise to pursue this vital public service to the utmost of my abilities.

“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.

“I know that trials heard in the High Courts of Glasgow and Edinburgh are not the only ones that matter. Across Scotland every day, cases are called in Sheriff and Justice of the Peace courts and I will support the staff of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as they continue to prosecute in the public interest. The hard work done in local courts is vitally important and helps keep our communities safe from harm caused by offending behaviour.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on the criminal justice system, and the efforts to recover, renew and transform the way it operates are already underway. I will lead Scotland’s prosecutors as they work with the legal profession, courts service, judiciary and others as together we move forward to create a modern, responsive system fit to serve the people of Scotland for generations to come.”