A lawyer who secured serial killer Peter Tobin’s first murder conviction has been named Nicola Sturgeon’s choice to become Scotland’s top law officer.
The first minister has lodged a motion at Holyrood seeking agreement to recommend to Her Majesty The Queen that Dorothy Bain QC be appointed Lord Advocate.
Ms Sturgeon will also seek approval for Ruth Charteris QC to succeed Alison Di Rollo QC as the new Solicitor General for Scotland.
If parliament approves the nominations, it will mark the first time both posts have been held by women simultaneously.
Ms Bain will replace the outgoing Lord Advocate James Wolffe who will leave office once his successor has been approved by Her Majesty.
The proposed changes come as the Scottish Government plans to review the Lord Advocate’s dual role in the wake of the Alex Salmond controversy.
Mr Wolffe was embroiled in the battle between the Scottish Government and the former first minister over the government’s handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.
During the inquiry, Mr Salmond claimed Mr Wolffe should be “considering his position”.
The Scottish Government has committed to a review of the Lord Advocate’s dual role as head of the prosecution service and a member of the government’s cabinet.
‘A woman of the highest integrity’
Ms Bain became known for her prosecution of high-profile cases such as that of serial killer Peter Tobin.
She led the successful prosecution case against him for the murder of Polish student Angelika Kluk.
Ms Bain, who studied at the University of Aberdeen School of Law, became an advocate in 1994 and Queen’s Counsel in 2007.
Between 2002 and 2011 she was an Advocate Depute working within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
Two years after the Tobin case, she became the first woman to be appointed principal advocate depute to the Crown, Scotland’s most senior courtroom prosecutor.
The QC left the Crown Office in 2011 and in 2014 represented the the family of one of the victims of the Glasgow bin lorry crash.
Ms Bain will have an important role in deciding whether or not it is within Holyrood’s powers to hold a second independence referendum.
The Times reported legal sources had said that the QC would be “likely to give the referendum bill the green light” once she was installed as the Scottish Government’s senior legal adviser.
Colleagues have praised the senior lawyer’s “reputation as a prosecutor of great integrity”.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who is a QC, described Ms Bain as a “dear friend and former boss” and a “woman of the highest integrity”.
If this is correct I will be delighted to see my dear friend & former boss in @copfs Dorothy Bain QC as head of Scotland’s prosecution service. A woman of the highest integrity 👏👏 https://t.co/nRJPzHbnHn
— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) June 15, 2021
She later tweeted: “My positive tweet about this appointment related to Dorothy’s reputation as a prosecutor of great integrity.
“I don’t know her views on the legality of a referendum and ultimately I support the plans to separate the roles of chief prosecutor and government legal adviser.”
Leading human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar said he welcomes Ms Bain’s appointment, describing her as “widely respected for her integrity, impartiality and commitment to justice”.
On her new appointments, The First Minister said: “I am extremely pleased to be seeking parliament’s agreement to recommend Dorothy Bain QC and Ruth Charteris QC as Scotland’s law officers.
“Dorothy has extensive experience in both civil and criminal law. She has appeared in cases at all levels, including the Court of Session (Inner & Outer House), the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court of Justiciary, the United Kingdom Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
“Dorothy was the first woman to be appointed as Principal Advocate Depute and has conducted many complex and high profile criminal prosecutions and appeals.
“She is currently Counsel to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in Scotland and a serving Chair of the Police Appeals Tribunal.
“Ruth was a Standing Junior to the Scottish Government from 2012 and was Second Standing Junior to the Scottish Government from 2016 – 2020.
“On taking Silk she moved into Crown Office to become a full-time Advocate Depute.”
Mr Wolffe informed the first minister last year that he intended to leave office following the recent election and confirmed his intention before her re-election as First Minister.
Ms di Rollo also confirmed her intention to stand down following this year’s election.