Lord Mulholland
Senator of the College of Justice
Assumed office
15 December 2016
Nominated byNicola Sturgeon
As First Minister
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byLord Stewart
Lord Advocate
In office
19 May 2011 – 1 June 2016
MonarchElizabeth II
First MinisterAlex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon
DeputyLesley Thomson
(Solicitor General)
Preceded byElish Angiolini
Succeeded byJames Wolffe
Solicitor General for Scotland
In office
19 May 2007 – 19 May 2011
First MinisterJack McConnell
Alex Salmond
Preceded byJohn Beckett
Succeeded byLesley Thomson
Personal details
Francis Mulholland[1]

(1959-04-18) 18 April 1959 (age 62)
Coatbridge, Lanarkshire
Political partyNone[2]
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen (LL.B., Dip.L.P.) University of Edinburgh (MBA)
ProfessionLawyer Judge

Francis Mulholland, Lord Mulholland, CBE, PC, QC (born 18 April 1959) is a Scottish judge who has been a Senator of the College of Justice since 2016. He previously served from 2011 to 2016 as Lord Advocate, one of the Great Officers of State of Scotland and the country's chief Law Officer, and as Solicitor General, the junior Law Officer.[3]

He was the first Advocate Depute and Senior Advocate Depute appointed from within the Procurator Fiscal Service, and only the second non-advocate appointed to the office of Lord Advocate, the first being his predecessor, Elish Angiolini. He was installed as a Senator of the College of Justice in December 2016,[4] having served as a temporary judge for the previous 3 months.[5]

During his career he appeared for the Crown in the 2004 Glasgow Ice Cream Wars appeals, prosecuted the significant HM Advocate v Transco case in 2005, the first ever prosecution of a public limited company for culpable homicide in the country, and oversaw prosecution of the infamous 2007 World's End murder trial, which collapsed due to insufficient evidence and resulted in a public dispute between the Lord Advocate of the time, Elish Angiolini, and the Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton.[citation needed]

Early life

Mulholland was born on 18 April 1959 in Coatbridge,[6] to Charles and Jean Mulholland. He attended St Bernard's Primary School and Columba High School (now defunct) in Coatbridge. He studied at the School of Law of the University of Aberdeen, graduating with an LL.B. in 1981 and Diploma in Legal Practice in 1982, and completed his traineeship with Bird, Semple and Crawford Herron, Solicitors, Glasgow, being admitted as a solicitor in 1984, at which time he joined the Procurator Fiscal Service.[3]


Mulholland's first posting was as a Procurator Fiscal Depute at Greenock, before being transferred to the same post at Glasgow in 1987.[3] He remained there until 1991, when he was transferred to the Crown Office, working as a solicitor in the High Court Unit.[3] He became a Notary Public (NP) in 1992 and joined the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland in 1993.[6] In 1994, he moved from the Crown Office's High Court Unit to its Appeals Unit, and in 1995 qualified as a solicitor-advocate.[2]

In 1997, he became the first member of the Procurator Fiscal service to be appointed an Advocate Depute,[3] a lawyer charged with prosecuting in the High Court in the name of the Lord Advocate. He also graduated that year from the University of Edinburgh with a degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA).[6] He became Assistant Procurator Fiscal at Edinburgh in 1999 and District Procurator Fiscal in 2000.[3]

He remained in office at Edinburgh until 2003, when he returned to the ranks of Crown Counsel as the Senior Advocate Depute. He prosecuted the significant HM Advocate v Transco plc case, the first ever prosecution of a public limited company for culpable homicide in Scotland, and represented the Crown in the successful 2004 appeals by Thomas Campbell and Joe Steele, convicted over the so-called Glasgow Ice Cream Wars. He was appointed Queens Counsel (QC) in 2005,[6] in the same round of appointments as John Beckett, whom he would later succeed as Solicitor General.[7]

In January 2006, Mulholland was appointed by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd as Area Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders, the head of the Procurator Fiscal Service in that sheriffdom.[3][8][9] In this role, he oversaw the high-profile trial for the 1977 World's End murders,[3] which was thrown out of court by the trial judge, Lord Clarke, due to a lack of evidence. The Lord Advocate at the time, Elish Angiolini, made a statement to the Scottish Parliament, saying she was "disappointed" at the decision. This was criticised by Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, head of the Scottish judiciary, who said it undermined the independence of the judiciary.[10][11]

Solicitor General

Following the 2007 Scottish election, newly elected SNP First Minister Alex Salmond appointed Mulholland to succeed Labour Party member[12] John Beckett as Solicitor General, the junior of the two Law Officers of the Crown in Scotland. Beckett, who had been junior defence counsel for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in the Lockerbie trial, was subsequently appointed a floating sheriff.[13]

The SNP government said at the time that they believed Mulholland to have no political affiliation.[2] His appointment was approved by the Scottish Parliament without the need for a vote[14] and he was sworn in as Solicitor General at a ceremony at the Court of Session on 30 May 2007. His appointment was significant in that it was the first time neither the Lord Advocate nor the Solicitor General had been a member of the Faculty of Advocates.[15] Both were invited to join the faculty by its dean, Richard Keen, in October 2008.[16]

Whilst Solicitor General, he formed the new Serious and Organised Crime Division within the Crown Office,[17] as well as leading the successful prosecution of Peter Tobin in 2007 for the 1991 murder of fifteen-year-old Vicky Hamilton.[18]

Lord Advocate

Mulholland was appointed Lord Advocate, the senior Law Officer in Scotland, following the 2011 Scottish elections. He succeeded Elish Angiolini and his appointment was agreed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 May.[19] He was succeeded as Solicitor General by Lesley Thomson, Area Procurator Fiscal for Glasgow. On 13 July 2011, Mulholland was appointed to the Privy Council.[20]

Mulholland was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to law in Scotland for his service as Lord Advocate.[21]

Senator of the College of Justice

On 11 May 2016 it was announced that he was to be appointed a Senator of the College of Justice, his appointment to take effect later in the year.[22]

On 1 September 2016, Mullholland was appointed as a temporary judge of the Court of Session, to fill the gap caused by Lady Smith's appointment as chair to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.[5] The Judicial Office for Scotland announced that "Judge Mulholland will not hear any criminal case in which, by reason of his previous role as Lord Advocate and head of the prosecution service, he would require to recuse himself; nor any civil case involving the Scottish government which, given his former role as the Scottish government’s principal legal adviser, he would again need to recuse himself. The requirement for Judge Mulholland to recuse himself will, of course, diminish over time."[5]

On 15 December 2016, Mulholland was formally installed as a permanent Senator of the College of Justice, taking the judicial title of Lord Mulholland.[4][23] He replaced Lord Stewart, who had retired.[5]

Malicious prosecution of David Whitehouse and Paul Clark

In 2021 Mulholland’s successor as Lord Advocate apologised to Paul Clark and David Whitehouse for the decision to prosecute them in 2015[24] over the takeover of Rangers football club.[25]

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament,[25] James Wolffe QC said the prosecution had taken place without probable cause and was malicious. Damages of over £20 million were awarded to Green and Whitehouse.

The former Labour MP Sir Brian Donohoe subsequently called on Mulholland to step down as a Senator of the College of Justice, saying his reputation had been badly damaged by the scandal.[26]

Awards and honours

In June 2013, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen by the Duchess of Rothesay.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "New Year's Honours list 2017" (PDF). Gov.uk. Government Digital Service. 30 December 2016. p. 17. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Radical change as second top law officer appointed". The Herald. Glasgow. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "About: People: Cabinet & Ministers: Lord Advocate". Scottish Government. 26 November 2014. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Frank Mulholland QC installed as Senator of the College of Justice". Scottish Legal News. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "Exclusive: Frank Mulholland appointed temporary judge in advance of installation as Senator". Scottish Legal News. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d "Frank Mulholland". Who's Who. December 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Fourteen new Scots QCs". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  8. ^ "New Procurators Fiscals in Lothians" (Press release). Scottish Government. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Senior prosecutors appointed in Lothians". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 1 February 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Top judge enters World's End row". BBC News. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Leading judge steps into legal row over murder trial". The Guardian. 28 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  12. ^ "Angiolini first non-advocate Lord Advocate". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Appointment of sheriff" (Press release). Scottish Government. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Law officer Angiolini reappointed", BBC News Scotland website, 24 May 2007. URL retrieved 30 May 2007
  15. ^ "Law officers are both solicitors". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  16. ^ "Law officers to join Faculty of Advocates". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Solicitor General launches Serious and Organised Crime Division". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  18. ^ Carrell, Severin; correspondent, Scotland (2 December 2008). "Vicky Hamilton murder: How police closed the net on Peter Tobin". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Parliament approves Scottish cabinet members". Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  20. ^ Privy Council Office — Orders for 13 July 2011
  21. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N9.
  22. ^ "Senators appointed to College of Justice" (Press release). Scottish Government. 11 May 2016. Archived from the original on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Frank Mulholland QC installed as Senator of the College of Justice" (Press release). Judiciary of Scotland. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  24. ^ Jeffay, John (1 February 2021). "Ex-Rangers administrator 'kept in cell with no bed for six days' by cops". Daily Record. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  25. ^ a b "Statement by the Lord Advocate to Parliament: Clark & Whitehouse". www.copfs.gov.uk. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  26. ^ McCall, Chris (11 August 2021). "'It's a scandal' Calls for judge to quit over Gers malicious prosecution cases". Daily Record. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  27. ^ "HRH The Duchess of Rothesay joins University 'family'" (Press release). University of Aberdeen. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
Legal offices Preceded byJohn Beckett Solicitor General for Scotland 2007–11 Succeeded byLesley Thomson Preceded byElish Angiolini Lord Advocate 2011–2016 Succeeded byJames Wolffe Preceded byAngus Stewart, Lord Stewart Senator of the College of Justice 2016-present Incumbent