John Beckett (lawyer)

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John Beckett
Solicitor General for Scotland
In office
Monarch Elizabeth
First Minister Jack McConnell
Preceded by Elish Angiolini
Succeeded by Frank Mulholland
Personal details
Born Crawley, West Sussex
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Edinburgh (LL.B., Dip.L.P.)
Profession Lawyer

John Beckett QC is a Scottish lawyer who was Solicitor General for Scotland, the country's junior Law Officer from October 2006 to May 2007. He was appointed by Labour First Minister Jack McConnell on the appointment of former Solicitor General Elish Angiolini to the senior role of Lord Advocate. After the 2007 Scottish election, newly elected Scottish National Party First Minister Alex Salmond replaced Labour Party member Beckett with Frank Mulholland, who is now the Lord Advocate. Beckett is now a floating sheriff sitting mainly at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Early life[edit]

Beckett was born in Crawley, a town in West Sussex about 28 miles (45 km) south of London.[1] His family moved to Edinburgh in 1968 and he was educated at Edinburgh Academy and Broughton High School before studying at the School of Law of the University of Edinburgh.[1]


Beckett worked initially as a defence solicitor in Edinburgh, and was elected to the Faculty of Advocates in 1993. He was junior defence counsel for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi under William Taylor QC during the Lockerbie trial at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands in 2000. He became an Advocate Depute and Senior Advocate Depute in 2003, and Queen's Counsel (QC) in 2005, and prosecuted the infamous murder case of baby Caleb Ness.[2] He was appointed Principal Advocate Depute from 1 January 2006. On his appointment as Solicitor General that October, he was succeeded by Brian McConnachie.[3]

Solicitor General[edit]

Following the resignation of Colin Boyd as Lord Advocate, Solicitor General Elish Angiolini was nominated for the post by First Minister Jack McConnell. Beckett was in turn nominated to succeed Angiolini as Solicitor General. The nomination was met with some criticism due to Beckett's membership of the Labour Party,[2] but was ultimately approved by the Scottish Parliament on 5 October 2006. Beckett, along with Angiolini, was sworn in at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on 12 October 2006 and appointed by the Queen under the royal warrant.[4] Beckett's appointment lasted only eight months however; the 2007 Scottish Parliament election resulted in the Scottish National Party forming a minority government, and new First Minister Alex Salmond replaced Beckett with politically neutral[5] Frank Mulholland QC, whose appointment was approved by the Scottish Parliament without the need for a vote on 24 May 2007.[6]

In April 2008, Beckett was appointed a floating sheriff, an office enabling him to sit where required throughout Scotland's six sheriffdoms, although he sits primarily in Glasgow.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Reforming prosecutor to be next Solicitor General". The Herald. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Replacement is Labour loyalist". The Scotsman. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "McConnachie is Principal Advocate Depute". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Scotland's Lord Advocate Sworn In". BBC News. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 12 October 12 2006.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "Radical change as second top law officer appointed". The Herald. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Law officer Angiolini reappointed". BBC News. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Appointment of sheriff". Scottish Government. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Elish Angiolini
Solicitor General for Scotland
Succeeded by
Frank Mulholland