Dame Elish Angiolini
12 October 2006 – 30 April 2011
|Preceded by||Lord Boyd of Duncansby|
|Succeeded by||Frank Mulholland|
|Solicitor General for Scotland|
28 November 2001 – 12 October 2006
|First Minister||Jack McConnell|
|Preceded by||Neil Davidson|
|Succeeded by||John Beckett|
Elish Frances McPhilomy
24 June 1960
Govan, Glasgow, Scotland
|Residence||Dunblane, Scotland, UK|
|Alma mater||University of Strathclyde|
Dame Elish Frances Angiolini DBE PC QC FRSA FRSE (née McPhilomy; born 24 June 1960) 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 commissioned by the then-Home Secretary Theresa May.
Early life and education
Angiolini was born on 24 June 1960 to Mary (née Magill) and James McPhilomy. 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. As a child she wanted to be a ballet dancer. One of her first summer jobs was working on a checkout at Marks & Spencer. 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. Later as Regional Procurator Fiscal, Angiolini piloted a victim liaison scheme which was subsequently extended throughout Scotland.
Early legal career
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.
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. 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.
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. In this role she piloted a victim liaison scheme which was subsequently extended across the country.
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.
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.
Following the resignation of Lord Boyd, First Minister Jack McConnell nominated Angiolini for the post of Lord Advocate. Her nomination was passed by Parliament on 5 October 2006, with 99 in favour, 0 against and 15 abstentions. 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.
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. This made her the first Lord Advocate to serve two different governments.
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.
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". She was succeeded on 19 May 2011 by Francis Mulholland.
Academic and charity work
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.
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.
Angiolini is a member of Terra Firma Chambers, with a particular interest in public administrative law and professional negligence.
Angiolini led an "investigation into the disposal of baby ashes at Mortonhall Crematorium" in 2013 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.
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."
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. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2017).
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| Solicitor General for Scotland
| Lord Advocate
| Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford