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New Senior Prosecution Team for High Court Cases

The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, today announced the appointment of a new and restructured Crown Counsel team, the collegiate group of Advocate Deputes who prosecute the most serious crimes on his behalf in the High Court in Scotland.

Mr Alex Prentice QC has been appointed Principal Crown Counsel (replacing the role of Principal Advocate Depute); Mr Iain McSporran, has been appointed Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (replacing the role of Assistant Principal Advocate Depute); and Mr John Scullion, has been appointed Assistant Principal Crown Counsel. All three appointments take effect from 1 August 2011.

The Lord Advocate said:

"I am confident that the appointment of Alex Prentice, Iain McSporran and John Scullion to these significant roles will ensure that the Crown continues to maintain the confidence of the people of Scotland in the prosecution of serious and complex crime. They are all prosecutors of significant experience and skill and their commitment and professionalism will play a crucial role in the development and delivery of our approach to the prosecution of crime.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the significant contribution made by Dorothy Bain QC and Derek Ogg QC who will resign their Crown Counsel posts at the end of July. Both have successfully prosecuted some of the most serious, sensitive and complex cases in Scottish history and I am very grateful indeed to them for their service which has been exemplary."

Notes to editors:

1. The Lord Advocate and Solicitor General are assisted in relation to High Court prosecution and similar work by Advocate Deputes who are known collectively as Crown Counsel. Advocate Deputes are experienced advocates or solicitor advocates, including suitably qualified members of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and are appointed for a period of about three years.

2. Biographies (no photographs avaiable at this time from Crown Office:

• Alex Prentice: Qualified as a solicitor in 1983 and as a Solicitor Advocate in 1994. He is a highly experienced criminal lawyer who practised as a defence solicitor for 21 years. In 2004 he became the first Solicitor Advocate from outwith the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to be appointed as an Advocate Depute. He was appointed as a Senior Advocate Depute in 2006 and took silk in 2007.

• Iain McSporran: Graduated from Glasgow University; joined Crown Office as trainee in 1986 and remained as a Procurator Fiscal Depute mainly in Edinburgh until resigning in 1998 to practice criminal defence work before becoming a Solicitor Advocate and joining as a full time Advocate Depute in February 2007 following three months ad hoc. Appointed Senior AD 2009.

• John Scullion: has been practising law since 1994 originally as a solicitor in private practice and subsequently at the Bar.

His areas of interest are in criminal law, Fatal Accident Inquiries and Health and Safety. Until January 2007 his criminal practice has been predominately defence work in the High Court of Justiciary. He was appointed as an Advocate Depute ad hoc in 2006. He became a full time Trial Advocate Depute in January 2007 and was appointed as a Senior Advocate Depute in 2009.

3. A selection of notable prosecutions by Dorothy Bain:

• HMA –v- Giovanni Mola before Lord Hodge which was the first successful prosecution in Scotland for culpable and reckless conduct which resulted in the complainer being infected with both the HIV and Hepatitis C viruses. The case is reported in 2007 SCCR p 124 as it was the first case in Scotland which involved the court pronouncing orders under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 for an unlimited period of time

• HMA -v- Robert O'Hara, Robert Murray, Colin Mckay, & 2 others, massive gangland murder in which the accused O'Hara (known as the birdman) was convicted of murder along with McKay & Murray (this was hailed by the police as a huge success as O'Hara was a major gangland figure and the murder he instructed was carried out on his behalf when he was at another place in Glasgow and recorded on CCTV. The Birdman had terrified and ruled Possil an area of Glasgow.

• HMA –v- Peter Tobin before Lord Menzies which was the first successful prosecution of the serial killer (who later was identified as responsible for the murders of Dinah McNicol and Vicky Hamilton) for the murder of a young polish student Angelika Kluk.

• HMA –v Strachan, Rennie & 6 others before Lord Bannatyne (10 week trial), a landmark prosecution which resulted in the largest ring of paedophiles in the United Kingdom being convicted of more than fifty charges ranging from abusing infants from three months old to conspiracy and holding more than 125,000 images of children being sexually abused and subjected to sadomasochistic and degrading acts. This was the first time conspiracy charges had been used in the field of prosecution of child sexual abuse. The case relied almost exclusively on the leading of expert evidence including detailed evidence relating to the forensic analysis of computers, psychological and medical evidence, and for the first time in the UK, the leading of expert evidence from American specialists in relation to the digital fingerprinting of digital images and cameras.

• HMA –v- Christopher Miller before Temp Judge Beckett ( 3 week trial) where the accused was convicted of the race hate murder of an Indian Naval Officer in Glasgow city centre, there was a significant interest in this case both in the UK and India and the trial was covered by the media both nationally and internationally.

• HMA –v- Roshan Dantis before Lord Pentland ( 4 week trial) where the accused, an Indian National was convicted of the murder of a Nepalese national Khushbu Shah, the deceased's body was decapitated and her hands were severed from her body, The case was covered both nationally and internationally.

• HMA –v- Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan before Lord Pentland ( 5 week trial) where the accused were convicted of the murder of Allison McGarrigle 13 years previously and in circumstances where her body was never recovered.

• HMA –v- Haled Sara before Lord Broody (4 week trial) where the accused was convicted of the murder of an Asian radio presenter in her home.

• HMA –v- Weir Group plc before Lord Carlo way where Weir pleaded guilty to paying bribes to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Regime and were fined £3 million and agreed to pay a record confiscation order of £14 million. The prosecution was described as a landmark prosecution and was the first time the Proceeds of Crime Legislation had been used to punish a company for operations overseas. There were many complex aspects to this case including the recovery of evidence from France as Weir had channelled their Iraq business through a French subsidiary, and there was recovery of evidence from the United Nations in New York and Iraq.

4. A selection of notable prosecutions by Derek Ogg:

• Malcolm Webster was found guilty of murdering his wife Claire Webster or Morris, and attempting to murder his second wife Felicity Drum.

• Thomas Bennie Smith who raped and murdered a mother and daughter before concealing their bodies; Guilty all charges.

• David Lilburn who stabbed his wife to death 82 times and was convicted of murder after pretending a 'black shadow' had told him to do it.

• Laughlin and O'Neil, their first trial, which related to repeated sexual offending against minors. This trial secured the first conviction under new grooming laws and also saw a rare prosecution of sexual offending of a minor in a foreign country (Spain).

• Russell West an English police Officer who used his training to try to avoid detection in an internet sexual abuse case against a 13 year old child in Scotland. Part of the successful 'Operation Defender' series of cases which was developed under the auspices of National Sexual Crimes Unit.

• HMA v 'G' conviction for the long term sexual abuse of his children, one of whom was affected by deafness and speech difficulties. Innovated the taking of evidence by video and teaching the child to speak using speech therapists so that her evidence could be heard. Again part of NSCU's innovative approach.

• Duncan Duncan and Price ' blood in the bath' murder in which accused knifed the victim to death in his own home then posed for photos with the body and in a bloody bath with girlfriends who were convicted of lesser parts.

• Anthony John McGeechan, convicted of murdering a young Asian shopkeeper with learning difficulties during a botched robbery in broad daylight in Maybole, Ayrshire.

• Derek Ogg also led from the outset the formation and successful development of the National Sexual Crimes Unit in 2009 to date.