Judge Selection Flawed, Admits Wallace

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Byline: HAMISH MACDONELL

JUSTICE Minister Jim Wallace admitted yesterday that the manner of appointing judges in Scotland was flawed and required an overhaul.

In a speech days after the shock departure of the Lord Advocate Lord Hardie, who was appointed to the Bench on his own recommendation last week, Mr Wallace promised a radical shake-up in the system.

The former Lord Advocate stepped down as Scotland's senior legal officer to become a judge before he was due to lead the prosecution in the Lockerbie trial in May. First Minister Donald Dewar came under intense pressure from opposition parties and relatives of the Lockerbie victims over Lord Hardie's departure.

They argued Mr Dewar had shown bad political judgment in letting Lord Hardie leave so close to the trial and said the Lord Advocate's departure cast fresh doubt on the prosecution's case.

But in a speech to the Hansard Society conference in Edinburgh, Mr Wallace tried to reassure the public that the legal system would be reformed to make senior appointments open and transparent.

He said the Scottish Executive's present and future legislative plans would change the face of Scottish public life for good.

He referred to the Scottish Freedom of Information Bill and reform of the Civil Service, as well as changes to the appointment process for public and judicial appointments. …