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Paul McBride, QC

Criminal lawyer;

Born: November 13, 1964; Died: March 4, 2012.

Paul McBride QC, who has died aged 47, was a highly respected Scottish criminal lawyer. Among the high-profile cases of his career was leading the legal team which saw charges of perjury against Gail Sheridan dropped in the case of HM Advocate v Sheridan and Sheridan in December 2010.

Mr McBride was involved in the Moira Jones murder trial, the Rosepark care home fire fatal accident inquiry, as well as representing Celtic Football Club.

His past clients include Thomas "TC" Campbell and Joe Steele, whose convictions for their role in the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars were quashed in 2004.

He won the acquittal of human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar for contempt of court in July 2008.

The only child of George and Mary McBride, he attended St Aloysius' College, Glasgow, before going on to study law at the University of Strathclyde aged 16. He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) at 19, once confessing he still had "a lot" of pimples when he started lawyering.

Mr McBride was called to the Scottish Bar in 1988 and soon established himself as one of the most highly-regarded and sought-after criminal lawyers in the country. At the age of 35 he was appointed a Queen's Counsel, said to be the youngest-ever QC appointed in the UK.

Rising through the Scottish legal ranks Mr McBride became known for his trademark unshirking style in court. "I watched Graham Bell in the appeal court and he really had the ear of the court, which could be gleaned even from the way the judges looked at him," he once said. "I watched Donald Findlay's cross-examination style which was tremendous and I also borrowed elements of Lord MacAuley's style. In the end you develop your own style but everybody borrows something from somebody else."

Mr McBride's was a colourful and illustrious career but one not without controversy. Among his regular clientele were murderers and rapists who had strayed to the wrong side of the law. "There is such a thing as evil – and such a thing as God," he is quoted as saying.

His peers described him as "an absolute one-off" noting that he had a charisma and presence which saw people flock to him whenever he entered a room. Colleague Aamer Anwar said of Mr McBride: "Whether people loved or hated him they recognised Paul's remarkable intelligence, his quick wit and that he was a force to be reckoned with. I watched people tremble in court under his cross-examination."

A workaholic, he was known for having a mobile phone almost permanently glued to his ear, admitting: "When it stops ringing I feel like a politician who is suddenly out of power: lonely."

"I don't really get to relax," he said in an interview with The Herald last year. "It is an interesting life. You only get one chance and you have got to take it."

Active in politics, he made a high-profile defection from Labour to the Conservative Party in 2009 to become justice adviser to Annabel Goldie. In 2011, however, he quit after branding the Scottish Tories "dysfunctional morons".

Despite his high profile in the public eye, little was known about his life away from the legal profession. Friends talked of his love of travel with Dubai, Barbados and New York among his favorite places.

A self-confessed "hopeless" football player, Mr McBride was once an SFA referee. He ran the line at Premier League games until the mid-1990s saw him take silk and land a prime job as an advocate depute. His last game as an official was a Rangers victory over Kilmarnock.

In April 2011 Mr McBride was threatened with legal action by the Scottish Football Association after branding the organisation "the laughing stock of world football" and "not merely dysfunctional and dishonest but biased".

He made the statement after an SFA disciplinary hearing involving three members of Rangers staff. Mr McBride later apologised for the remarks.

He was a proud and vocal fan of Celtic Football Club and Mr McBride regularly appeared on television and radio espousing the merits of the team as well as representing high-profile players and its manager Neil Lennon. Two men are currently on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of conspiring to murder Mr McBride, Mr Lennon and former MSP Trish Godman by sending improvised explosive devices to them between March 1 and April 15 last year.

Mr McBride was in Pakistan on business with fellow lawyer and close friend Aamer Anwar when he passed away. He is survived by his parents and his partner Gary Murphy.

From the archive: Paul McBride Interview, May 2011

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