In a long and distinguished career, Lord Keen of Elie QC built up a formidable reputation as one of the most brilliant legal minds of his generation.
Long before he resigned as Advocate General over Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, he appeared as a tenacious defence lawyer in numerous high-profile cases.
He also represented the family of Princess Diana’s driver, Henri Paul, at an inquest into her death and was a counsel at the Piper Alpha inquiry. He was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 2007, a position that he relinquished when he became involved in politics.
But it has not always been plain sailing for the Dollar Academy and Edinburgh University-educated lawyer who lists golf, skiing, opera and shooting as his hobbies.
It was the latter pastime that resulted in embarrassing headlines when he was fined £1,000 for failing to secure his shotgun. The offence came to light when police went to his Edinburgh home following reports of a suspected burglary while he was on holiday.
The officers found an unsecured 12-gauge shotgun in a bag in a basement cupboard. Last year he was cleared of professional misconduct when a disciplinary hearing of the Bart Tribunals and Adjudication Service considered the offence which came to light when the case came to court in 2017.
He was accused of behaving in a way “likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in a barrister”. But the hearing was told he did not commit a “truly criminal act” by failing to lock up his shotgun.
The tribunal found he was in breach of his professional duties, but the breach was not serious enough to constitute misconduct.
He became prominent in the political world when he became chairman of the Scottish Conservatives in 2013. Back then he was reputed to be one of Scotland’s highest earning lawyers, and was the personal choice of then Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.
He campaigned for Better Together in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. In May 2015 he was appointed Advocate General, the most senior Scottish law officer in the UK Government.
As Advocate General, he has represented the UK Government last year when faced with legal challenges on Mr Johnson’s bid to prorogue parliament while opposition MPs hoped to debate Brexit.
Now it is the latest controversial staging post in the Brexit process which has led to him resigning, a move which is deeply embarrassing for the prime minister.
His offer to quit concerned the UK Government’s highly controversial Internal Market Bill, which Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis described as illegal.
Mr Lewis’s remarks appeared to contradict Lord Keen’s comments in the House of Lords when he told peers that the Bill did not “constitute a breach of international law or of the rule of law”.
Lord Keen said Mr Lewis had “answered the wrong question” when he said the proposals to override elements of the Brexit divorce deal relating to Northern Ireland would break international law in a “specific and limited way”.
But in the Commons Northern Ireland Committee on Wednesday, Mr Lewis said he stood by his original answer which was “absolutely in line” with the legal advice issued by Attorney General Suella Braverman.
The difference of opinion put pressure on Lord Keen with calls for him to quit from Scottish Legal News, the independent website serving Scottish lawyers.