Craigie Aitchison, Lord Aitchison

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Craigie Mason Aitchison KC (26 January 1882 – 2 May 1941) was a Scottish politician and judge.

Early life[edit]

Mason was born in Falkirk, where his father Reverend James Aitchison was the senior minister of the Erskine United Free Church.[1]

Educated at Falkirk High School and at Edinburgh University, where he was the Vans Dunlop Scholar in Mental Philosophy and Muirhead Prizeman in Civil Law.[1] He graduated from Edinburgh with an MA in 1903 and an LLB in 1907.[1]


Aitchinson became an advocate in 1907.[1] He was particularly effective as a defence counsel in criminal cases, and was regarded as the best advocate before a jury since Sheriff Comrie Thomson.[1] He was noted for the Bickerstaff and John Donald Merritt cases.[1]

He was made a King's Counsel in 1923.[2] He worked with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and others to secure the release of Oscar Slater, the victim one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice of the early twentieth century. Aitchison who was leading Counsel at the appeal in 1929 gave a 14-hour speech.[3]

Politics and law officer[edit]

An unsuccessful Liberal candidate for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire in November 1922 and December 1923,[4] he joined the Labour Party and contested The Hartlepools at the October 1924 general election[5] and Glasgow Central in May 1929[6] — where he reduced a Unionist majority of nearly 6,000 to only 627.[1]

He was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Kilmarnock at a by-election in October 1929, and sat for the constituency until October 1933 as a Labour then National Labour member.[7]

He was appointed as Lord Advocate in June 1929[8] serving in the Second Labour Government alongside Sir William Jowitt, the new Attorney General for England and Wales whose defeat at The Hartlepools in 1924 was attributed to Aitchnison's drawing votes to the Liberals.[1]

He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1929,[9] and served as Lord Advocate until October 1933. He was then raised to the bench as Lord Justice Clerk,[10] with the judicial title Lord Aitchison, at which point he automatically resigned his seat in the House of Commons, which resulted in a by-election.

His son Craigie (1926–2009) was a noted painter and a member of the Royal Academy.


  • Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Scottish Legal Officers". Aberdeen Journal. 18 June 1929. p. 7. Retrieved 13 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ "No. 32815". The London Gazette. 17 April 1923. p. 2811. 
  3. ^ Baston, K 2012, 'Oscar Slater: Presumed Guilty' Signet Magazine: The Magazine of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet, no. 2, pp. 13–14.
  4. ^ Craig, p. 647
  5. ^ Craig, p. 143
  6. ^ Craig, p. 588
  7. ^ Craig, p. 616
  8. ^ "No. 33508". The London Gazette. 21 June 1929. p. 4119. 
  9. ^ "No. 33514". The London Gazette. 5 July 1929. p. 4433. 
  10. ^ "No. 15005". The Edinburgh Gazette. 3 October 1933. p. 809. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Climie
Member of Parliament for Kilmarnock
Succeeded by
Kenneth Martin Lindsay
Legal offices
Preceded by
Alexander Munro MacRobert
Lord Advocate
Succeeded by
Wilfrid Guild Normand
Preceded by
Lord Alness
Lord Justice Clerk
Succeeded by
Lord Cooper