When Sheriff Kieran McLernan clashed with QC Donald Findlay at the High Court in Edinburgh, it was not the first time he had made headlines, nor was it the only high-profile battle between the two men.

In 1998, the sheriff attracted worldwide attention when he sentenced a dog to be destroyed for growling at a postman, a decision which Mr Findlay declared an "injustice".

Two years later, Sheriff McLernan, who sits in Aberdeen, was himself at the centre of a legal wrangle over the missing will of an elderly relative.

Sheriff McLernan, now 65, was in the spotlight once again when he gave evidence in the trial of Peter Tobin.

The former pupil of St Aloysius' College, Glasgow, who later studied at the University of Glasgow, was installed as a sheriff of Grampian, Highlands and Islands in May 1991.

Although based in Aberdeen, Sheriff McLernan regularly visits Glasgow and attended mass at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church.

When he met Angelika Kluk the pair spoke about her interest in golf before Sheriff McLernan agreed to a suggestion from his wife to show the student how to swing a golf club.

The day before Ms Kluk was last seen, Sheriff McLernan had arranged to take his "golf protege" to a driving range in Bishopbriggs.

He later drove her back to the church and it was during his evidence on this matter that Mr McLernan clashed with Mr Findlay.

In a police statement, Sheriff McLernan had said that he and Ms Kluk spoke for "a minute or two" when they were saying goodbye. CCTV shown in court showed the pair together, partly in his car and partly in the street, for around 45 minutes before he left.

The sheriff said that when he gave police his statement in September, at that stage he had no idea he had spent so long in her company and the statement was "obviously incorrect".

Mr Findlay, defending Tobin, asked him: "You, as a lawyer, as a professional judge, may not have thought it relevant to tell the police precisely where she was the last time you saw her?"

Sheriff McLernan replied: "No, that is really quite an improper way to put it. You are misleading the jury."