It has been announced the well known Scots QC Paul McBride, 46, died in his sleep today. PAUL McBRIDE QC, a well known figure in Scots legal, political & media circles was found dead earlier today by solicitor Ameer Anwar with whom he was travelling on a business trip in Pakistan, according to news reports. Mr McBride, who was 46 and is thought too have died in his sleep, was discovered in his hotel room by his colleague & hotel staff after failing to respond to phone calls from his colleague. It has been reported Mr McBride was complaining of feeling ill for a few days prior to the sad news of his death today. Mr McBride was Scotland’s youngest QC at the age of 35. He was called to the Scottish Bar in 1988 and has been involved in many high profile criminal cases, legal & political debates in Scotland over the years.
Mr McBride, who was to have appeared a witness to give evidence in the trial of two men accused of plotting to murder Celtic Manager Neil Lennon, former msp Trish Godman and Mr McBride himself, was often seen as a controversial figure and frequently changed his political viewpoint from Scottish Labour to Scottish Conservative and more recently switched to the Scottish National Party.
However, on many issues, from the Lockerbie Trial debate of the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, to the recent, much debated anti sectarian legislation pushed through by the Scottish Government, Paul brought a significant contribution to debate on law & justice in Scotland, often acting as a much needed counterbalance to some within the legal & political establishment who are well known for frequently sounding off without thinking through their plans thoroughly. Unlike many in the Faculty of Advocates, Mr McBride usually came across as a credible figure in public debates & the media. His presence will be sorely missed.
First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute to Mr McBride, saying : "This is sad and shocking news. Paul McBride was an outstanding Advocate, and a very substantial public figure in Scotland. "Paul’s genius lay not just in applying his first-class mind to the complex procedures of Scots Law, but also his unrivalled ability to explain and promote the laws of Scotland to a wider public.”
Mr Salmond continued : “His reservoir of talent was great indeed, and I believe he had so much more to contribute to the law, and to the great debate on Scotland's future. Paul will be sorely missed across Scotland’s legal system, political parties, sport and journalism. It is typical of Paul that his last public comment was a newspaper column expressing the belief that the anti-sectarian legislation, of which he was such an eloquent advocate, would herald a historic change for the better in Scotland. My thoughts today are with Paul’s partner, parents, family and very many friends. Hopefully the knowledge that he was held in such high regard by so many will be of some comfort at this desperately sad time.”
Peter Lawwell, Chief Executive of Celtic Football Club issued a statement saying : "This is tragic news. Paul was a very good friend of Celtic and someone who cared passionately about the club. His passing is clearly a great loss and he will be sadly missed. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic are with Paul's family at this very difficult time."
Scottish Labour Johann Lamont commented : "Paul McBride was one of the finest legal minds of his generation. While we didn't always agree, I always thought of him as a thoroughly decent man. When he entered the political debate he was always challenging and his intellect greatly enriched it. He will be missed."
Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader said: "Cutting short Paul McBride's full and colourful life is so sad. Scotland will be a lesser place without him."
Scottish Conservative Party chairman David Mundell MP said: “It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Paul McBride QC. He was a fiercely intelligent individual who was as passionate about politics as he was the law. Paul was a towering presence in Scottish public life, who was never afraid to speak out on the issues he cared about. Our thoughts at this time are with his family.”
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland and Solicitor General Lesley Thomson, who were also key figures at the Crown Office when orders were given to destroy key data showing the scale of sectarian crimes against Catholics in Scotland, an issue central to the recent debate on the Scottish Government’s anti sectarian legislation, made a joint statement on the news of Mr McBride’s death, saying : "We are very saddened by the awful news that Paul has died in his sleep overnight in Pakistan. This is devastating news for his partner Gary, family and his friends. We offer our sincere and deepest sympathies to them."
Brian McConnachie QC, Vice-Chair of the Faculty of Advocates Criminal Bar Association, said: "Everyone is absolutely stunned and deeply saddened by his death.Paul was very young and had achieved a tremendous amount in such a short space of time and undoubtedly had a great deal more to achieve both legally and no doubt in other fields."
Scottish Law Reporter would like to join those in expressing their sorrow at Mr McBride’s death. The Scottish legal profession and the wider community at large has without doubt lost a capable figure who represented widely held opinions, and his clients from all sides of the fence with dedication & professionalism.