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BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor
"A shake-up of judicial appointments is due soon"
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Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 20:02 GMT
Swift response over Hardie resignation

Lord Hardie Lockerbie graphic Lord Hardie was head of the Lockerbie prosecution team

The Scottish Executive has moved quickly to appoint a new Lord Advocate, after the sudden departure of Lord Hardie sparked fears over the Lockerbie prosecution.

Lord Hardie's resignation to become a Court of Session judge fuelled concern about the solidity of the case against the two Libyans alleged to have committed the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Lord Hardie, as Scotland's senior law officer, was heading the prosecution team preparing the evidence for the trial which is due to begin in the Netherlands on 3 May.

Donald Dewar: Swift response Donald Dewar: Swift response
First Minister Donald Dewar quickly proposed the current Solicitor General Colin Boyd QC as the new Lord Advocate. The appointment was agreed by the Scottish Parliament, and now only awaits the formality of Royal Assent.

Mr Boyd has been number two in the Lockerbie prosecution team.

Mr Dewar is recommending leading commercial lawyer Neil Davidson QC for the post of solicitor general.

Relatives' anxiety

Lord Hardie's unexpected resignation has caused anxiety among some politicians and relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie disaster.

One source said: "I think the prosecution's case is unravelling, and (Hardie) has resigned because he doesn't want to be left holding the parcel when the case falls apart."

It has been rumoured for some time that there are doubts on the sufficiency of the evidence in this case
Roseanna Cunningham, SNP
The Scottish National Party's justice spokeswoman Roseanna Cunningham said: "It has been rumoured for some time that there are doubts on the sufficiency of the evidence in this case.

"Clearly, I am not in a position to know the truth of that.

"However, given that this Lord Advocate has taken key decisions in the case, the fact that he is not going to be in his job when the trial begins and comes to a conclusion may raise questions in some quarters as to why he is leaving now."

'Scared and horrified'

Dan and Susan Cohen, whose daughter was among the 270 people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 crashed on the Scottish town in 1988, said they were "scared and horrified" by Lord Hardie's departure.

"Does he fear this is a bad case?" asked Mrs Cohen. "Is there some scandal breaking elsewhere? What are we supposed to think?".

Jim Swire Jim Swire: Regrets departure
Dr Jim Swire, who represents some British relatives of those who died, regretted Lord Hardie's departure but said: "I don't think this will necessarily adversely affect the functioning of the prosecution during the trial."

The Scottish Executive has dismissed the concern, saying Lord Hardie's decision would have no effect on the prosecution.

During nearly three years as Lord Advocate, Lord Hardie faced particular problems in dealing with the implications of the European Convention of Human Rights for Scots Law.

Hardie 'baled out'

The Scottish Conservatives' Annabel Goldie said: "There's only one conclusion to draw from this - the job got too hot to handle and Lord Hardie baled out on his own parachute.

"The Scottish Executive is beleagured with problems surrounding the appointment of temporary sheriffs, civil court work at a standstill, question marks over our Childrens' Panel system and looming rapidly the prosecution of the biggest criminal court case ever to be dealt with under Scots Law - the Lockerbie trial.

Colin Boyd Colin Boyd: Lord Advocate designate
"What support does the Lord Advocate offer the Scottish executive?

"He resigns to make himself a judge. What a time to go. What a way to do it."

The Scottish Executive is now under pressure to change the role of the Lord Advocate.

The post forms part of the political administration with the holder sitting in the Scottish cabinet, the executive.

So far, the executive has not commented but BBC Scotland's political editor Brian Taylor said it was putting out the signal that there will be no change.

Born in 1946 in Alloa, Andrew Hardie was appointed Lord Advocate in the Scottish Executive on 20 May 1999, prior to which he had been Lord Advocate in the UK administration.

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See also:
17 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Sparks fly over Hardie exit
14 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Court bid to televise Lockerbie trial
02 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Lockerbie suspects plead not guilty
29 Oct 99 |  World
Lockerbie charges in full
15 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Euro-ruling hits court cases
18 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Lockerbie judges' biographies

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