Cullen of Whitekirk [of
~ ed.], the senior judge in Scotland
and the man who led the inquiries into the three worst disasters
of modern times, is stepping down from office.
69-year-old, who headed public inquiries into the
Dunblane Massacre, the Piper
Alpha tragedy and the Paddington train crash of 1999,
announced his retirement yesterday.
will step down as Scotland's
most senior judge, the Lord President
of the Court of Session,
on 25 November.
Cullen has been a judge for 19 years
but came to public prominence via several controversial
and emotional investigations.
167 people were killed in the explosion on the North
Sea Piper Alpha oil platform on 6 July 1988, he answered
the difficult questions about how and why it happened.
[Ed. ~ Not so at the Dunblane
Report was the end product of the two-year inquiry
and his conclusions led to the most significant safety reforms in
the North Sea oil industry.
He also headed
the public inquiry into the Dunblane
tragedy, where 16 children and their teacher were
shot dead by Thomas Hamilton at a primary
school on 13 March 1996. Lord Cullen's
report on the killings led to fundamental
changes in handgun law. [Ed.
~ Fundamental changes? He was simply diverting the discourse
from the main issues. For example, who and what cliques protected
Thomas Hamilton over many, many years,
allowing him to run boys' clubs and retain his gun licence with
He later headed
a public inquiry into the Paddington train
crash, in which 31 people died in 1999. His subsequent report
criticised Railtrack for "institutional paralysis" and
Cullen, who was appointed to the post of Lord
President in 2001, also chaired the panel
of five judges that turned down the appeal of the convicted
Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset
Mohmet al-Megrahi in March 2002.
First Minister Jack McConnell, paid tribute
to Lord Cullen, whose retirement will
make legal history in Scotland. For
the first time, an element of outside scrutiny will be applied to
the task of choosing his successor as Scotland's
most senior judge.
McConnell has appointed
a four-person panel to consider applications, meet
each candidate and "report on the suitability
of each person" for this key appointment.
It will be the
first time this process has been applied to choosing Scotland's
top judicial figure, who is styled Lord President
of the Court of Session when sitting in
civil cases and Lord Justice General in
criminal cases. The title of Lord President
dates back to 1808, and Lord Justice General
- which used to be a hereditary appointment - to 1687.
Cullen's successor will be recommended to the Queen
by the Prime Minister, who cannot recommend
anyone not nominated by the First Minister.
panel will comprise the former Lord President
Lord Hope; Sir David Edward
QC, a retired judge; Sir Neil McIntosh,
the chairman of the judicial appointments board for Scotland,
and a former Royal Mail executive, Barbara Duff,
who is also a member of the judicial appointments board.
McConnell yesterday praised
Lord Cullen, saying: "Lord
Cullen has given outstanding
public service both in his role as a judge
and as chair of some of the most important public
inquiries of recent times.
has presided over a programme of modernisation of
the High Court and the Court
of Session, which has already delivered
some good results.
be essential to find a successor to carry this initiative forward
and I am asking the panel to focus on this key aspect in their deliberations." [Ed.
~ How will society ever repair itself when scum characters scratch
each other's back to preserve their bogus reputations?]