Judge and former Solicitor General;
Born: November 8, 1925; Died: June 21, 2012.
WILLIAM Stewart, Lord Allanbridge, who has died aged 86, was one of Scotland's most senior judges and a former Solicitor General for Scotland appointed by Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath. As a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, his name was regularly in the newspapers as an appeals judge during high-profile cases.
One such was in 1998 when he was confronted by former French sex bombshell actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot protesting outside his Edinburgh Court of Appeals. Bardot was supporting the owners' appeal not to put down a "death-row dog" called Woofie, a collie-boxer mongrel who had been sentenced to death for merely barking at (not even biting) at a particularly-sensitive postman. Lord Allanbridge allowed the dog's owners to appeal, Woofie was eventually reprieved and Ms Bardot returned to France with a happy pout.
William Ian Stewart was born and brought up at Drimfearn, Bridge of Allan (hence the Allanbridge title he used for his peerage), the son of architect John Stewart and his wife Maysie. He went to the famous Loretto private school in Musselburgh, before getting degrees from both Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities. He served as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Voluntary Reserve during the last year of the war, and on through 1946. He was called to the Faculty of Advocates – the Bar in Scotland – in 1951 and was appointed Queen's Counsel (Q.C.) in 1965. Meantime, in 1955, he had married Naomi Joan Douglas, daughter of Sir James Boyd Douglas and Lady Douglas of Barstibly, Castle Douglas, Kircudbrightshire.
His career followed a logical path – Advocate-Depute (1959-64), a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board through much of the 1970s and Home Advocate-Depute (1970-72) before Mr Heath named him Solicitor General for Scotland, as which he served from 1972 until Labour defeated Mr Heath's Conservatives in 1974. That job made him the junior of the two Law Officers in Scotland, the senior being the Lord Advocate, a position held at that time by Norman Wylie, MP for Edinburgh Pentlands.
After losing his job along with Mr Heath, he served temporarily as Sheriff Principal of Dumfries and Galloway. In 1977, he was appointed to the Bench of the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary – Scotland's Supreme Courts – as a Senator of the College of Justice. It was then that he took the judicial title of Lord Allanbridge. He remained on the bench until his formal retirement in 1995 although he was often called upon to sit on major cases. After retirement, Lord Allanbridge served as Justice of Appeal in the African nation of Botswana (1996-99).
In 2000, as one of three judges sitting on the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, he found himself in the headlines after ruling that confiscating the property or other assets of convicted drug traffickers breached European human rights laws. He had been hearing an appeal by Robert McIntosh, who had been jailed for four years for heroin trafficking. Lord Allanbridge and a second judge, Lord Prosser, ruled that it would be in violation of human rights to assume that all Mr McIntosh's assets had come from drugs business.
In later life, Lord Allanbridge had time to enjoy his membership of Edinburgh's New Club on Princes Street, where he bumped into fellow lawyers, judges and, occasionally, accused he had either freed or put away but who had done their time.
Lord Allanbridge died at his home in Edinburgh. His wife of 50 years, Lady Joan, died in 2005. He is survived by their children John and Angela, and grandchildren Ian and Naomi.
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