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Angiolini first non-advocate Lord Advocate

6 October 2006

The appointment of Elish Angiolini as the next Lord Advocate was universally approved by MSPs last night.

Ms Angiolini is the first woman, and the first solicitor rather than advocate, to be appointed to the role. The new Solicitor General is John Beckett QC, who previously worked with Ms Angiolini on High Court reform.

The First Minister Jack McConnell said the appointment of Ms Angiolini as Solicitor General was one of the best decisions he had ever made and praised her work on court reform and improving the court experience for vulnerable witnesses.

He called Ms Angiolini a moderniser who would be consistent in giving legal advice to the cabinet and ministers.

Both the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have vowed to make removing the Lord Advocate from the cabinet part of their manifesto for the next election in May.

Time for assessment: Society

The Law Society of Scotland said it congratulated Ms Angiolini on her appointment, but that this was a critical time for the independence of the legal profession in Scotland and "this appointment process provides an opportunity for an assessment of the nature of this vital office of state".

John Beckett's appointment has attracted controversy because he is a member of the Labour Party in Scotland, although he is said not to be active. However until relatively recently the law officers were normally also MPs.

Ms Angiolini was born in 1960 and studied law at Strathclyde University. She moved to the Crown Office in 1992, becoming head of policy in 1997. She became regional prosecutor for the north-east and Highlands in 2000 before becoming Scotland's first female Solicitor General.

Ms Angiolini's QC title is honorary, as she has never practised as an advocate. Although there has been specluation that she would be known as the Lady Advocate, she will retain the title of Lord Advocate.