Frank Mulholland

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Person.png Frank Mulholland  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Frank Mulholland.jpg
Coatbridge, Lanarkshire
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh
Scottish lawyer and Lord Advocate

Employment.png Lord Advocate Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
19 May 2011 - May 2016

Employment.png Solicitor General for Scotland Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
19 May 2007 - 19 May 2011
Preceded byJohn Beckett
Succeeded byLesley Thomson

Frank Mulholland is a Scottish lawyer and has been Scotland's Lord Advocate since 19 May 2011, having previously been Solicitor General, the junior Law Officer. He was the first Advocate Depute and Senior Advocate Depute appointed from within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and only the second non-advocate appointed to the office of Lord Advocate, the first being his predecessor, Dame Elish Angiolini.[1]

On 23 March 2016, Mulholland announced that he had informed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of his intention to quit the post after the Scottish Parliament elections in May. He said it had been a "real privilege" to lead the prosecution service in Scotland and to provide legal advice to the Scottish government, adding that it was time to "step down and do other things." Nicola Sturgeon described Mulholland as "an outstanding Lord Advocate who carried out his role with dedication, energy, integrity and intellect."[2]

On 24 March 2016, The National quoted Iain McKie, from Justice for Megrahi, as saying Mulholland’s position had been untenable since 2012, when he and the Crown Office dismissed serious criminal allegations the group made in connection with the investigation and trial – before police had investigated them:

“This bias and prejudice was recently criticised by leading Scottish legal and political commentators including Brian McConnachie QC, Professor Alan Page of Dundee University and MSPs Patrick Harvie and John Finnie. While the Lord Advocate’s resignation is to be welcomed, he is yet to be held to account for this appalling episode.”[3]

On 27 March 2016, the Sunday Mail reported that the Lord Advocate's younger brother Iain Mulholland is at the centre of a dirty money probe after arranging £550,000 mortgage for a rogue lapdance tycoon, and is under investigation by the Crown Office.[4]

In May 2016, Mulholland stepped down as Lord Advocate and became a judge.[5]

Procurator Fiscal

Mulholland was appointed Area Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders in January 2006 when he supervised the case against Angus Sinclair (Worlds End murders), the Allison and Johnson murder inquiry, the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Andrew Forsyth and was in charge of Advocacy training for the prosecution service.[6]

Lockerbie investigation

On 15 October 2015, it was reported that Frank Mulholland, having recently met Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch in Washington to review progress made in the ongoing investigation into the Lockerbie bombing, had issued an International Letter of Request to the Libyan Attorney General in Tripoli which identifies two Libyans, Abdullah al-Senussi and Abu Agila Mas’ud, as suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. A Crown Office spokesman said:

"The Lord Advocate and the US Attorney General are seeking the assistance of the Libyan judicial authorities for Scottish police officers and the FBI to interview two named suspects in Tripoli. The two individuals are suspected of involvement, along with Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, in the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 in December 1988 and the murder of 270 people."[7]

Turmoil in Libya

On hearing that Frank Mulholland had written to his opposite number in Tripoli, academic and Middle East expert Jason Pack told Good Morning Scotland:

We don’t recognise the Tripoli government, so that doesn’t make any sense. We don’t conduct formal official business with the “Tripoli government”. So of course they are going to Tobruk and Beida, where at least for the next five days the internationally-recognised government sits. I believe that it has no sovereignty or legitimacy, and that will become clear for all to see within five days. The Tobruk government barely controls two tiny pockets in the East of the country. Now we’re talking about individuals who are exclusively based in Tripoli where that government, which might issue those letters, has no control. And the idea that Scottish or FBI investigators going to Libya is an absurdity. They’d be kidnapped by jihadis within two instants. No investigators are going to Libya. The fact that Ken Dornstein was able to conduct this documentary is that the political situation two years ago, when he was there, was entirely dissimilar. I could go to Libya at ease a year ago. But I’m not going traipsing around now because I don’t want to get kidnapped.
I mean we have a civil war in Libya which was complex and becoming more complex than the one in Syria. It’s less brutal: there are no barrelbombs, there’s no Assad government. It’s you know a pinprick – multilateral militias killing each other – there’s total chaos in the country. The situation is far more anarchic than in Syria. Why – and it really boggles my mind because there are very intelligent people working on the Libya issue – why it is they would allow these letters or demands to even be made, when we have so many other pressing issues like the growth of the Islamic State in Sirte, the way which Libya is a springboard for illegal migrants and then the key issue is the creation of a Government of National Accord (GNA) and we’re not investing the energy we need in doing those things? And we’re trying potentially to investigate these two Libyan suspects. I could have told them ten years ago the names of these two suspects Abdullah al-Senussi and Abu Agila Mas’ud. This is not news.[8]

Extradition requires "strong evidence"

BBC News reported on 21 October 2015 that the National Salvation government in Libya, which controls the capital, Tripoli, and large parts of the rest of the country, but is not recognised by the international community, has invited Scottish and American investigators to travel to Libya to question the two Lockerbie bombing suspects Abdullah al-Senussi and Abu Agila Mas’ud. NSG spokesman Jamal Zubia told the BBC:

"They can send some investigators, they come here to see those guys and see what they can do. Always we are very helpful, we want to talk to people and we want to show what we have. We might have more evidence about other people or maybe those guys have more information about something else, might help you."[9]

Interviewed by The Sunday Times, Zubia said:

“Gaddafi sent Megrahi to be judged abroad but that was against the law because there was no agreement between our countries for extradition. I don’t think it would happen again. What Gaddafi did was shameful but now we must respect our laws and our state. The problem is that the Scottish authorities sent their demand to Tobruk, which shows they know nothing about Libya because they don’t realise the government is in Tripoli. They will be waiting maybe forever for a reply from Tobruk because they can’t give permission for anyone to come to Tripoli and meet these prisoners.”

The BBC had reported Tripoli-based Justice Minister, Mustafa al-Glaib, as saying "strong evidence" is needed if the Lockerbie suspects are to be extradited. But al-Glaib told The Sunday Times that no official request had been received by authorities in the capital:

“What is circulating are media reports only. Until this time, we don’t even know for sure the names of the Libyans concerned, what the accusations are or what evidence there is against them. We will act according to Libyan law and we will not let the Libyan state be violated.”

The head of investigations for Libya’s general prosecutor’s office, Sadiq al-Sour, said if the UK or US made a request that was acceptable within Libyan law, it would be considered.[10]

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