LORD Cullen of Whitekirk [of
Whitewash ~ 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
The 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.
He will step down as Scotland's most senior judge,
the Lord President of the Court of Session, on 25 November.
William Cullen has been a judge for 19 years but
came to public prominence via several controversial and emotional
After 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 Inquiry.]
The Cullen 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 impunity.]
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 "lamentable failure".
Lord Cullen, who was appointed to the post of Lord
President in 2001, also chaired the panel of five judges LINK
that turned down the appeal of the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset
Mohmet al-Megrahi in March 2002. [Ed
~ Another farce. LINK]
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.
Mr 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.
Lord Cullen<'s successor will be recommended to
the Queen by the Prime Minister, who cannot recommend anyone not
nominated by the First Minister.
The four-person 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. [Ed
~ The main man, Lord Hope, is a "brother" of Cullen in
the Speculative Society of Edinburgh (Spec). LINK]
Mr 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. LINK
"He has presided over a programme of modernisation
of the High Court and the Court of Session, which has already delivered
some good results.
"It will 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?] LINK