[On this date in 2006 the Scottish Parliament approved the nomination of Elish Angiolini as Lord Advocate, in succession to Lord Boyd of Duncansby QC (Colin Boyd). What follows is excerpted from a report on the BBC News website:]
MSPs have approved the appointment of Elish Angiolini as Scotland's first female lord advocate.
Ms Angiolini was nominated as Scotland's new senior law officer by First Minister Jack McConnell after Colin Boyd's sudden resignation.
Her nomination was broadly welcomed by MSPs at Holyrood but the Scottish Conservatives raised concerns about judicial independence. (...)
Scottish National Party Holyrood group leader Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the appointment but questioned the post's dual role.
Tory Leader Annabel Goldie also voiced "real concerns" about the chief legal adviser to the Scottish Cabinet being the country's leading prosecutor.
She said: "There is a real and visible conflict of interest."
Ms Goldie proposed a commission to examine the "proper separation of powers, responsibilities and duties" in relation to the post.
The Scottish Tory leader also questioned whether Ms Angiolini had the "breadth of legal experience" for the job and said she opposed John Beckett QC as the new solicitor general, because he was a Labour member. (...)
She [Ms Angiolini] said her appointment [in 2001] as the first female solicitor general had been "a huge leap of faith".
"It has been a privilege over the past five years to serve along with Colin Boyd as lord advocate," she said."He is a man of great integrity and has been a quiet revolutionary in setting about the way in which the prosecution has gone about its business.
"It has transformed over the past five years but that transformation is something which is a work in progress."
Announcing his intention at a press conference in Edinburgh, Mr McConnell praised Ms Angiolini's performance as solicitor general.
"Five years on, I have no doubt whatever that the appointment of Elish Angiolini as solicitor general is one of the best decisions I have made as first minister of Scotland," he said.
"Our prosecution services today are admired, not ridiculed.
"Victims and witnesses see justice implemented in the system, not delays or chaos."
[On the occasion of the appointment of Ms Angiolini’s successor, Frank Mulholland, in 2011, I wrote the following:]
This appointment is not unexpected, but it is to be regretted. Virtually the whole of Frank Mulholland's career has been spent as a Crown Office civil servant. This is not, in my view, the right background for the incumbent of the office of Lord Advocate, one of whose functions has traditionally been to bring an outsider's perspective to the operations and policy-making of the department. Sir Humphrey Appleby was an outstanding civil servant of a particular kind, but his role was an entirely different one from that of Jim Hacker and no-one would have regarded it as appropriate that he should be translated from Permanent Secretary of the Department of Administrative Affairs to Minister (or, indeed, from Secretary of the Cabinet to Prime Minister).
The appointment by the previous Labour administration in Scotland of Elish Angiolini as Solicitor General and then as Lord Advocate was a mistake, both constitutionally and practically, as was her retention as Lord Advocate by the SNP minority government (though the political reasons for her re-appointment were understandable). It is sad that the new majority SNP Government has not taken the opportunity to return to the wholly desirable convention of appointing an advocate or solicitor from private practice to fill the office of Lord Advocate. The much-needed casting of a beady eye over the operations of the Crown Office is not to be expected from this appointee. This is deeply regrettable since such scrutiny is long overdue.