Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

James Hamilton QC: Who is the lawyer with the potential to decide Nicola Sturgeon’s future?

James Hamilton
James Hamilton QC.

The judgement of James Hamilton has the ability to shape the political future of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

And it is today that his ruling is due to be published following an independent inquiry into whether Ms Sturgeon misled the Scottish Parliament over alleged complaints against Alex Salmond.

The qualified barrister was first appointed as an independent adviser to the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Code in 2013 by former first minister Alex Salmond and reappointed by Ms Sturgeon in 2015.

The first minister, who denies breaching the code, would go on to refer herself to Mr Hamilton in January 2019 to allow him to carry out an independent inquiry into her conduct.

The man behind the independent report, expected to be published on Monday, boasts an impressive CV, previously serving as Director of Public Prosecutions in Ireland from 1999 to 2011, when he took early retirement.

However, he has far from sat idle since then, serving as president of the International Association of Prosecutors, based in The Hague, from 2011 until 2013, when he was recruited by the Scottish Government.

Prior to his inquiry into whether Ms Sturgeon had broken the ministerial code, he was asked by the Welsh Government in 2017 to investigate if its first minister, Carwyn Jones, had lied to the Welsh Assembly about bullying allegations within the government.

Mr Hamilton cleared Mr Jones of breaching the ministerial code and said his account to the Assembly was “accurate and truthful, and not misleading”.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, meeting her former Welsh counterpart, Carwyn Jones, at Bute House in Edinburgh for a meeting to discuss their opposition to the Brexit repeal Bill in August 2017.

However, the former Welsh First Minister would announce his resignation to the Welsh Labour conference just five days later, after being left scarred by the scandal.

Trinity College

Mr Hamilton studied History and Political Science at Trinity College in Dublin in 1971 and practiced at the Bar of Ireland from 1973 to 1981.

In 1981 he was appointed as a full-time legal adviser to the Attorney General of Ireland and in 1995 he became the permanent head of the Office of the Attorney General and senior legal adviser to the Attorney General.

He was also responsible for advising the Irish Government on legal issues arising during the negotiations which led to the conclusion of the Northern Ireland Agreement in 1998.

Ministerial code

The scope of his investigation into Ms Sturgeon was much narrower than the parliamentary one and was conducted in private.

This probe is looking specifically at whether Ms Sturgeon lied to parliament, and if she broke the ministerial code by not reporting meetings she had with Mr Salmond when allegations were first emerging.

James Hamilton’s report is the first in a series of developments this week, which could decide the first minister’s future.

A separate Holyrood inquiry report is due to be published on Tuesday, which looks specifically at the mishandled complaints process, after a judicial review found it had been unlawful and tainted by apparent bias.

Finally, Ms Sturgeon will face a no-confidence vote being brought by the Conservatives against her on Wednesday in what looks to be a decisive week for the SNP leader ahead of May’s Holyrood election.

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from The Courier Scottish politics team

More from The Courier