Frank Mulholland

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The Right Honourable
Frank Mulholland QC
Lord Advocate
Assumed office
19 May 2011
Monarch Elizabeth II
First Minister Alex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon
Deputy Lesley Thomson
(Solicitor General)
Preceded by Elish Angiolini
Solicitor General for Scotland
In office
19 May 2007 – 19 May 2011
First Minister Jack McConnell
Alex Salmond
Preceded by John Beckett
Succeeded by Lesley Thomson
Personal details
Born (1959-04-18) 18 April 1959 (age 56)
Coatbridge, Lanarkshire
Political party None[1]
Residence Livingston
Alma mater University of Aberdeen (LL.B., Dip.L.P.) University of Edinburgh (MBA)

Frank Mulholland, PC, QC (born 18 April 1959) is a Scottish lawyer and has been Lord Advocate, one of the Great Officers of State of Scotland and the country's chief Law Officer, since 19 May 2011, having previously been Solicitor General, the junior Law Officer.[2] He was the first Advocate Depute and Senior Advocate Depute appointed from within the Procurator Fiscal Service, and only the second non-advocate appointed to the office of Lord Advocate, the first being his predecessor, Elish Angiolini.

During his career he appeared for the Crown in the 2004 Glasgow Ice Cream Wars appeals, prosecuted the significant HM Advocate v Transco case in 2005, the first ever prosecution of a public limited company for culpable homicide in the country, and oversaw prosecution of the infamous 2007 World's End murder trial, which collapsed due to insufficient evidence and resulted in a public dispute between the Lord Advocate of the time, Elish Angiolini, and the Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton.

Early life[edit]

Mulholland was born on 18 April 1959 in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire,[3] to Charles and Jean Mulholland. He attended St Bernard's Primary School and Columba High School (now defunct) in Coatbridge. He studied at the School of Law of the University of Aberdeen, graduating with an LL.B. in 1981 and Diploma in Legal Practice in 1982, and completed his traineeship with Bird, Semple and Crawford Herron, Solicitors, Glasgow, being admitted as a solicitor in 1984, at which time he joined the Procurator Fiscal Service.[2]


Mulholland's first posting was as a Procurator Fiscal Depute at Greenock, before being transferred to the same post at Glasgow in 1987.[2] He remained there until 1991, when he was transferred to the Crown Office, working as a solicitor in the High Court Unit.[2] He became a Notary Public (NP) in 1992 and joined the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland in 1993.[3] In 1994, he moved from the Crown Office's High Court Unit to its Appeals Unit, and in 1995 qualified as a solicitor-advocate.[1]

In 1997, he became the first member of the Procurator Fiscal service to be appointed an Advocate Depute,[2] a lawyer charged with prosecuting in the High Courtin the name of the Lord Advocate. He also graduated that year from the University of Edinburgh with a degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA).[3] He became Assistant Procurator Fiscal at Edinburgh in 1999 and District Procurator Fiscal in 2000.[2]

He remained in office at Edinburgh until 2003, when he returned to the ranks of Crown Counsel as the Senior Advocate Depute. He prosecuted the significant HM Advocate v Transco plc case, the first ever prosecution of a public limited company for culpable homicide in Scotland, and represented the Crown in the successful 2004 appeals by Thomas Campbell and Joe Steele, convicted over the so-called Glasgow Ice Cream Wars. He was appointed Queens Counsel (QC) in 2005,[3] in the same round of appointments as John Beckett, whom he would later succeed as Solicitor General.[4]

In January 2006, Mulholland was appointed by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd as Area Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders, the head of the Procurator Fiscal Service in that sheriffdom.[2][5][6] In this role, he oversaw the high-profile trial for the 1977 World's End murders,[2] which was thrown out of court by the trial judge, Lord Clarke, due to a lack of evidence. The Lord Advocate at the time, Elish Angiolini, made a statement to the Scottish Parliament, saying she was "disappointed" at the decision. This was criticised by Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, head of the Scottish judiciary, who said it undermined the independence of the judiciary.[7][8]

Solicitor General[edit]

Following the 2007 Scottish election, newly elected SNP First Minister Alex Salmond appointed Mulholland to succeed Labour Party member[9] John Beckett as Solicitor General, the junior of the two Law Officers of the Crown in Scotland. Beckett, who had been junior defence counsel for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in the Lockerbie trial, was subsequently appointed a floating sheriff.[10] The SNP government said at the time that they believed Mulholland to have no political affiliation.[1] His appointment was approved by the Scottish Parliament without the need for a vote[11] and he was sworn in as Solicitor General at a ceremony at the Court of Session on 30 May 2007. His appointment was significant in that it was the first time neither the Lord Advocate nor the Solicitor General had been a member of the Faculty of Advocates.[12] Both were invited to join the Faculty by its Dean, Richard Keen, in October 2008.[13]

Whilst Solicitor General, he formed the new Serious and Organised Crime Division within the Crown Office,[14] as well as leading the successful prosecution of Peter Tobin in 2007 for the 1991 murder of fifteen-year-old Vicky Hamilton.

Lord Advocate[edit]

Mulholland was appointed Lord Advocate, the senior Law Officer in Scotland, following the 2011 Scottish elections. He succeeded Elish Angiolini and his appointment was agreed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 May.[15] He was succeeded as Solicitor General by Lesley Thomson, Area Procurator Fiscal for Glasgow.

On 13 July 2011, Mulholland was appointed to the Privy Council.[16]

In June 2013, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen by the Duchess of Rothesay.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Radical change as second top law officer appointed". The Herald. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography: Lord Advocate". Scottish Government. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Frank Mulholland". Who's Who. December 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Fourteen new Scots QCs". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "New Procuratos Fiscal in Lothians". Scottish Government. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Senior prosecutors appointed in Lothians". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 1 February 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Top judge enters World's End row". BBC News. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Leading judge steps into legal row over murder trial". The Guardian. 28 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Angiolini first non-advocate Lord Advocate". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Appointment of sheriff". Scottish Government. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "Law officer Angiolini reappointed", BBC News Scotland website, 24 May 2007. URL retrieved 30 May 2007
  12. ^ "Law officers are both solicitors". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "Law officers to join Faculty of Advocates". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  14. ^ "Solicitor General launches Serious and Organised Crime Division". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  15. ^ "Parliament approves Scottish cabinet members". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Privy Council Office — Orders for 13 July 2011
  17. ^ "HRH The Duchess of Rothesay joins University ‘family’". University of Aberdeen. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Beckett
Solicitor General for Scotland
Succeeded by
Lesley Thomson
Preceded by
Elish Angiolini
Lord Advocate