The appointment – recommended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and agreed by the Scottish Parliament on June 1st under Motion S5M-00255 – will see Mr Wolffe succeed Frank Mulholland QC as Scotland’s top prosecutor and head of the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
The number two spot at the Crown Office has been filled by Advocate Alison Di Rollo – who becomes the new Solicitor General - after Lesley Thomson quit the role.
A news release from the Scottish Government said Ms Thomson – who held the post as Solicitor General since 2011 “informed the First Minister she wishes to pursue new challenges.”
The appointments of both Mr Wolffe & Ms Di Rollo – come recently after it was revealed a number of Crown Office staff have been convicted of serious criminal offences - including misuse of drugs, violence & offences against the Police.
A further report in the media revealed Crown Office staff operating an air junkets racket - reported here: Crown Office jet set junket racket - Files reveal Prosecutors spent £57K on international & domestic air travel as crooks deal plea bargains to dodge law & courts.
Among long term investigations by the Crown Office awaiting decisions - the new Lord Advocate will face a decision on whether to prosecute anyone in connection with the £400 million collapsed Hedge Fund.
The Heather Capital collapse – probed by prosecutors and Police for three years – has seen links to judges, prosecutors, top politicians, Police and even the Vatican state - revealed in considerable detail in the Scottish and international media.
It will also fall to James Wolffe’s Crown Office to decide on whether to intervene in any private prosecution brought by relatives of victims those killed in the Glasgow Bin Lorry deaths case.
The First Minister said: “I am extremely pleased to recommend the appointments of James Wolffe and Alison Di Rollo as Scotland’s senior law officers.”
“James has an outstanding legal background and extensive experience at all levels, including the House of Lords, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
“Alison led the work of the ground-breaking National Sexual Crimes Unit (NSCU) for three years, having previously held the role of deputy. Her outstanding leadership in this most sensitive of areas has inspired confidence in all connected to it.”
James Wolffe said: “I thank the First Minister for nominating me to the office of Lord Advocate. If I am appointed, it will be a great privilege to serve Scotland in that role.”
Alison Di Rollo said: “I am both delighted and honoured to be nominated for this role by the First Minister and I am looking forward to working with James in his new role.”
The First Minister thanked both Frank Mulholland QC and Lesley Thomson QC for their service in the roles.
She said: “In his time as Lord Advocate, Frank has made a substantial contribution to both the law and to Scottish society. The creation of the National Sexual Crimes Unit was just one example of the increased specialisation of the Crown Office that Frank Mulholland presided over. In her role as Solicitor General, Lesley’s work, particularly around domestic abuse, was pivotal in moving towards a system that instils confidence in victims of abuse and ensures that their abusers are held to account. I thank both Frank and Lesley for their dedicated service to the Government, to justice and to Scotland as a whole.”
Frank Mulholland announced earlier in March he intended to step down as Lord Advocate after the Scottish Elections held in May.
It has since been announced Mulholland – who campaigned aggressively alongside current Lord President Lord Carloway for the removal of the key injustice safeguard of Corroboration from Scots Law - has been made a judge at the Court of Session.
Among five senators appointed to the College of Justice, Frank Mulholland QC, Sheriff John Beckett QC, Ailsa Carmichael QC, Alistair Clark QC, and Andrew Stewart QC will sit as judges in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.
The judicial appointment to be taken up by Frank Mulholland QC, will take effect following the retirement of a senator later in the year.
The appointment of Mulholland to a judicial position comes after the recent appointment of Lord Carloway to the top post of Lord President – head of the Scottish judiciary.
MOTIONED TO BE LAW CHIEF:
Motion S5M-00255: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/05/2016: First Minister's Appointment of Law Officers
That the Parliament agrees that it be recommended to Her Majesty that James Wolffe be appointed as the Lord Advocate and that Alison Di Rollo be appointed as Solicitor General for Scotland.
Supported by: John Swinney, Joe FitzPatrick Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 01/06/2016
LAW CHIEFS ON THE UP:
James Wolffe QC is a leading Senior Counsel. He became an advocate in 1992 and took silk in 2007. In 2014 he was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. He was First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Ministers from 2002 to 2007, and served as an Advocate Depute from 2007 to 2010. He has extensive experience of both commercial and public law. He is a member of the Faculty Dispute Resolution Service and was also called to the bar of England & Wales in 2013.
Alison Di Rollo is a Senior Advocate Depute. She joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in 1985 as a fiscal. Ms di Rollo then worked in the Policy Group at the Crown Office prior to being appointed Deputy Head of the High Court Unit and later Head of Operational Policy. In May 2008, Ms Di Rollo was seconded from COPFS to take up an appointment as a trial advocate depute. She was appointed as deputy head of the National Sexual Crimes Unit in 2011 and became head of the unit in January 2013.
The Lord Advocate is a Minister of the Scottish Government and acts as principal legal adviser, but decisions by him about criminal prosecutions and the investigation of deaths are taken independently of any other person. In that way, he is not subject to the ordinary rules about collective ministerial decisions.
The Solicitor General is the Lord Advocate’s deputy. She assists the Lord Advocate to carry out his functions. She is also a Minister of the Scottish Government.
For previous articles on the Crown Office, read more here: Scotland's Crown Office - in Crown detail