John McCluskey, Baron McCluskey

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For the criminal named John McCluskey, see 2010 Arizona prison escape. For the Scottish boxer of the 1960s and 1970s, see John McCluskey (boxer).
The Right Honourable
The Lord McCluskey
Senator of the College of Justice
In office
Monarch Elizabeth
Solicitor General for Scotland
In office
Monarch Elizabeth
Preceded by William Stewart
(later Lord Allanbridge)
Succeeded by Nicholas Fairbairn
Personal details
Born John Herbert McCluskey
(1929-06-12) 12 June 1929 (age 87)
Political party Crossbench (1984(?)– 2017)
Labour (1974–1984)
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Profession Lawyer

John Herbert McCluskey, Baron McCluskey (born 12 June 1929) is a Scottish lawyer, judge and politician, who served as Solicitor General for Scotland, the country's junior Law Officer from 1974 to 1979, and as a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of Scotland's Supreme Courts, from 1984 to 2004. He was also member of the House of Lords from 1976 until his retirement in 2017.

Early life[edit]

McCluskey was born in 1929, one of four sons of solicitor Francis McCluskey and his wife, Margaret. He was educated at St. Bede's Grammar School in Manchester and at Holy Cross Academy, Edinburgh, and studied at the University of Edinburgh (MA 1950, LLB 1952). He served briefly in the Royal Air Force at RAF Spitalgate and was awarded the station's Sword of Honour in 1953. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1955.


McCluskey was briefly Standing Junior Counsel, a legal advisor to a government department, to the Ministry of Power in Scotland in 1963, and served as an Advocate Depute, a Crown prosecutor, from 1964 to 1971, being appointed Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1967. He became a Chairman on the Medical Appeal Tribunals for Scotland in 1972 and additionally Sheriff Principal of Dumfries and Galloway in 1973.

McCluskey was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland in 1974[1] in the new Labour government of Harold Wilson and on 29 September 1976 was created a life peer as Baron McCluskey, of Churchhill in the District of the City of Edinburgh.[2] He remained in this office until the Conservative victory in the 1979 election, continuing thereafter as Labour Opposition Spokesperson for Scottish Legal Affairs until 1984.

In 1984, McCluskey was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary, Scotland's supreme courts. Already being a peer, he used his noble title whilst sitting on the Bench. He was the first serving judge to deliver the BBC's Reith Lectures, which he gave in 1986 on Law, Justice and Democracy in which he discusses his ideas of what judges should and should not be involved in.[3]

From 1988 to 2005, he was Editor of Butterworth's Scottish Criminal Law and Practice series. From 1997 to 2004, he was Chairman of the Trustees of the John Smith Memorial Trust, being succeeded in this post by former Defence Secretary and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.


McCluskey retired from the Bench in 2004 but continues to sit occasionally as a judge. In June 2011, the Scottish Government announced he would chair a panel of experts examining the position of the UK Supreme Court in relation to Scottish cases raising human rights issues.[4] The formation of this panel came about after rulings by the Supreme Court in the Cadder and Nat Fraser cases, in which the Court had found violations by Scottish police of the European Convention on Human Rights where Scottish courts had found none.


  1. ^ "no. 46248". The London Gazette. 26 March 1974. p. 3898. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "no. 47034". The London Gazette. 8 October 1976. p. 13641. 
  3. ^ Law, Justice and Democracy
  4. ^ "UK Supreme Court group formed". Scottish Government. 5 June 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Stewart
Solicitor General for Scotland
Succeeded by
Nicholas Fairbairn