Elish Angiolini

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Dame Elish Angiolini
Elish Angiolini.jpg
Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford
Assumed office
September 2012
Preceded bySir Andrew Dilnot
Lord Advocate
In office
12 October 2006 – 30 April 2011
MonarchElizabeth II
First Minister
Preceded byLord Boyd of Duncansby
Succeeded byFrank Mulholland
Solicitor General for Scotland
In office
28 November 2001[1] – 12 October 2006
First MinisterJack McConnell
Preceded byNeil Davidson
Succeeded byJohn Beckett
Personal details
Elish Frances McPhilomy

(1960-06-24) 24 June 1960 (age 61)
Govan, Glasgow, Scotland
Spouse(s)Domenico Angiolini
ResidenceDunblane, Scotland, UK[2]
Alma materUniversity of Strathclyde

Dame Elish Frances Angiolini DBE PC QC FRSA FRSE (née McPhilomy; born 24 June 1960[3]) is a Scottish lawyer. She was the Lord Advocate of Scotland from 2006 until 2011, having previously been Solicitor General since 2001. She was the first woman, the first Procurator Fiscal, and the first solicitor to hold either post. Since September 2012, Angiolini is the Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford. She is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland. Since leaving office she has led several investigations and inquiries, including a review of deaths in police custody[4] commissioned by the then-Home Secretary Theresa May.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Angiolini was born on 24 June 1960 to Mary (née Magill) and James McPhilomy.[3] She grew up in Govan, Glasgow in a working-class family; her father was a coal merchant and later worked for Rolls-Royce and then as a commercial driver.[6][7] As a child she wanted to be a ballet dancer.[8] One of her first summer jobs was working on a checkout at Marks & Spencer.[8] She was educated at Notre Dame High School for Girls in the West End of the city, and studied at the School of Law of the University of Strathclyde, obtaining an LLB (Hons) in 1982 and a Diploma in Legal Practice in 1983.

Angiolini's first encounter with the legal profession came when, as a teenager, she was asked to give evidence in a burglary trial. Later, she recalled: "I was not terribly impressed. There were a lot of important people in gowns and witnesses were left a very long time in the witness room and not given any information... All the attention was focused on the permanent figures of the court, while ... witnesses, and those in the dock, seemed irrelevant". The experience inspired Angiolini to pursue a career in law.[8] Later as Regional Procurator Fiscal, Angiolini piloted a victim liaison scheme which was subsequently extended throughout Scotland.[9]

Early legal career[edit]

Upon completing her legal studies, she joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to train as a Procurator Fiscal (public prosecutor). Whilst a trainee, she survived the Polmont rail accident; two passengers sitting next to her were killed.[10]

Following her training, Angiolini spent 8 years as a Depute Procurator Fiscal in Airdrie, prosecuting in Airdrie Sheriff Court. In 1992, she was seconded to the Crown Office where she worked in the Lord Advocate's Secretariat.[11] During her secondment, she developed an interest in improving the support offered to vulnerable victims and witnesses, and in particular to children. She was then appointed Senior Depute Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow, taking operational responsibility for Sheriff and Jury prosecutions. In 1995, she was promoted to Assistant Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow.[11]

In 1997, Angiolini returned to the Crown Office as Head of Policy, with responsibility for the development of policy across all functions of the Department. In particular, she helped the department prepare for devolution and was involved in the preparation of the Scotland Act 1998. At the same time, Angiolini was responsible for the department's preparations for the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998.

She was then appointed Regional Procurator Fiscal for Grampian, Highland and Islands (based at Aberdeen) on 27 July 2000 – the first woman to hold such a post.[12] In this role she piloted a victim liaison scheme which was subsequently extended across the country.[9]

Solicitor General[edit]

Angiolini was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland by First Minister Jack McConnell in 2001. Angiolini was the first solicitor, as opposed to advocate, to be appointed Solicitor General; this was not received favourably amongst all members of the legal profession.[6]

In 2006, Jack McConnell praised Angiolini's work as Solicitor General, saying the decision to appoint her had been one of the best he had ever made.[13]

Lord Advocate[edit]

Following the resignation of Lord Boyd, First Minister Jack McConnell nominated Angiolini for the post of Lord Advocate.[14] Her nomination was passed by Parliament on 5 October 2006, with 99 in favour, 0 against and 15 abstentions.[15] She was sworn in at the Court of Session on 12 October 2006 and one month later she was made a member of the Privy Council.[16]

After the 2007 election there was speculation that the new SNP administration might replace Angiolini. On the morning after the election, Angiolini had cleared her office and was preparing to leave when she received a phone call from Alex Salmond, the new First Minister. Angiolini congratulated Salmond on his election, and said that she had packed up her things. "Unpack your things, and come and see me", replied Salmond. Salmond decided that Angiolini should stay in post, and would continue not to attend Cabinet except to provide advice or to make representations about her own department as had been the case with the former administration following the departure of her predecessor. Her reappointment was agreed by Parliament on 24 May 2007.[17] This made her the first Lord Advocate to serve two different governments.[6]

Later in 2007, Angiolini clashed publicly with the head of Scotland's judiciary, Lord President Hamilton, over the collapse of the World's End murders trial. The trial judge, Lord Clarke, had ruled there was insufficient evidence for the jury to convict and threw the case out. Angiolini then made a statement to the Scottish Parliament, saying she was "disappointed" at the decision, a move Hamilton said undermined the independence of the judiciary.[18][19]

Angiolini announced in October 2010 that she would step down from the role of Lord Advocate after the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2011.[20][21]

Alex Salmond paid tribute to Angiolini, saying "her term as Lord Advocate has been marked by significant improvements and substantial success in the disposal of justice in Scotland".[22] She was succeeded on 19 May 2011 by Francis Mulholland.

Academic and charity work[edit]

On leaving the post of Lord Advocate, Angiolini was unveiled as the first patron of LawWorks Scotland, a charity which helps people who cannot afford legal advice.[8]

In September 2011 it was announced that Angiolini was to become a visiting professor at Strathclyde Law School, her old university. As well as teaching undergraduates, she was to develop a masters course in advocacy studies.[23]

Angiolini is a member of Terra Firma Chambers, with a particular interest in public administrative law and professional negligence.[24]

In February 2012 it was announced that Angiolini would become Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford in September 2012, replacing Andrew Dilnot.[25]

In February 2013 the University of the West of Scotland announced that Angiolini would replace Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Kelvin as Chancellor of the University from September 2013.[26]

Later work[edit]

Angiolini led an "investigation into the disposal of baby ashes at Mortonhall Crematorium" in 2013[27] after it was revealed that the remains of babies were being cremated with unrelated adults. She was subsequently asked by the Scottish Government to carry out an investigation into the practices of all crematoria across Scotland.

In 2015 her review on how the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police Service investigate and prosecute rape cases in London was published.[28]

Angiolini's report into deaths in custody in the UK, commissioned by the UK Home Office, was published at the end of October 2017.[29]

In 2018 she was appointed by the Scottish government to "review the processes for handling complaints against the police and investigating serious incidents and alleged misconduct."[30]


In 2002, she was awarded Alumnus of the Year by the University of Strathclyde.[31]

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to the administration of justice.[32][33]

She holds honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws from the universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian, Stirling, Aberdeen, St Andrews, West of Scotland, and the Open University.[34] She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2017).[3][6][35]

In June 2011, Angiolini received the Special Achievement Award from the International Association of Prosecutors.[24]

Personal life[edit]

She married Scots Italian Domenico Angiolini in 1985; they have two children; Domenico and David.[36] Her hobbies include walking, picking wild mushrooms and cinema.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scots gets first woman in top legal post". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 28 November 2001.
  2. ^ "Elish Angiolini: Overview of Elish Angiolini". Scottish-places.info. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Angiolini, Elish Frances" in Who's Who, A & C Black.
  4. ^ "Deaths and serious incidents in police custody". GOV.UK. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Home Secretary announces review of deaths in police custody". GOV.UK. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Carrell, Severin (6 October 2006). "The Guardian profile: Scotland's first woman lord advocate Elish Angiolini". The Guardian. London, UK.
  7. ^ "Eye To Eye – Elish Angiolini". YouTube. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d "Interview: Elish Angiolini, Lord Advocate". The Scotsman. Johnston Press. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  9. ^ a b Mackenzie, Roger (1 January 2002). "Interview: Elish Angiolini". The Journal. Law Society of Scotland. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 August 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ a b "The Rt Hon Dame Elish F Angiolini DBE QC FRSE, Principal of St Hugh's College". University of Oxford, Faculty of Law. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  12. ^ "The Board of". Scottish Opera. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Angiolini first non-advocate Lord Advocate". The Journal. Law Society of Scotland. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Angiolini choice for top law post". BBC News. 5 October 2006.
  15. ^ "The Scottish Parliament Official Report" Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Scottish Parliament, 5 October 2006. URL retrieved 12 October 2006
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Law officer Angiolini reappointed". BBC News. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
  18. ^ "Top judge enters World's End row". BBC News. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  19. ^ Carrell, Severin (28 September 2007). "Leading judge steps into legal row over murder trial". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  20. ^ "Lord Advocate announces she will step down at the next Scottish election" (Press release). Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Elish Angiolini moves on". Scots Law News. 1 October 2010. Archived from the original on 25 October 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  22. ^ "Scottish Law Reporter: Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini to step down 'at next election' as suitors circle for Law Chief's job". Scottishlaw.blogspot.com. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Elish Angiolini to teach law at Strathclyde University". BBC News. 19 September 2011.
  24. ^ a b "Terra Firma – Our Advocates – Members of our Scottish Faculty of Advocates". Terrafirmachambers.com. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  25. ^ "Dame Elish Angiolini elected next Principal of St Hugh's" (Press release). St Hugh's College, Oxford. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  26. ^ Callaghan, Carla (6 February 2013). "Dame Elish Angiolini to take role of chancellor at University of West of Scotland". Daily Record. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  27. ^ "Dame Elish to lead ashes inquiry". BBC News. 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Report of the Independent Review into The Investigation and Prosecution of Rape in London by Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC | The Crown Prosecution Service". www.cps.gov.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  29. ^ Allison, Eric; Hattenstone, Simon (2 November 2017). "Now we know the shocking facts of deaths in custody, will Theresa May act? - Eric Allison and Simon Hattenstone". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Police conduct review". Scottish Government News. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 7.
  33. ^ "Main list of the 2011 Queen's birthday honours recipients" (PDF). BBC News UK. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  34. ^ "Elish F Angiolini DBE QC". www.law.ox.ac.uk. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  35. ^ "RSE Welcomes 60 New Fellows". rse.org.uk (Press release). Royal Society of Edinburgh. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Scotland's first woman lord advocate symbolises the country's aspirations". The Guardian. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2017.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Solicitor General for Scotland
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Advocate
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford