IN a series of major legal changes announced yesterday, Lord Rodger of

Earlsferry QC, the Lord Advocate, was appointed a judge to succeed Lord

Allanbridge, who retired last week.

Lord Rodger's elevation at the age of 51 means the promotion to Lord

Advocate of the current Solicitor-General, Mr Donald Mackay, QC, after

just six months in the number two post. Mr Mackay, 49, also received a

life peerage to enable him to represent the Government in the Lords.

The new Solicitor-General will be the advocate, Mr Paul Cullen, 38,

who was appointed a Queen's Counsel yesterday immediately before the

official announcement of the new appointments.

Officially, judges in Scotland are appointed by the Queen acting on

the advice of Government Ministers but, in effect, the Lord Advocate,

head of the prosecution system, can nominate himself to the High Court

and Court of Session Bench.

Although Lord Rodger's outstanding ability as a lawyer is beyond

question, his promotion will call the whole judicial appointments system

into question.

Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth expressed his confidence in the new

Crown Office team yesterday when he said: ''Donald Mackay will make a

first-class Lord Advocate and Paul Cullen's experience as an

Advocate-depute will equip him well for the task of Solicitor-General.

''I am sure they will make a very effective team as Scotland's Law


Shadow Scottish Secretary George Robertson acknowledged that Lord

Rodger had been a ''quite outstanding'' Lord Advocate and would make a

first-class judge.

However, he added that the appointment could be said to look like

''jobs for the boys''.

He said: ''It leaves a bad taste in the mouth because nobody knows

what the criterion for appointments is. We are currently looking at ways

that are more open and more accountable.''

Labour is considering whether a better system would be to set up a

Ministry of Justice for Scotland, with judicial posts being advertised

and candidates scrutinised by a judicial appointments board.

Lord Rodger, who became Lord Advocate in April 1992, comes from an

academic background and is one of the country's most respected academic

lawyers. His father was professor of psychological medicine at Glasgow

University from 1948 until 1973.

Lord Rodger himself was educated at Kelvinside Academy and read arts

and law at Glasgow University.

In 1970, he was appointed to a fellowship in law at New College,

Oxford, and seemed set for an academic career as a Roman Law scholar. To

the surprise of his colleagues, he resigned his fellowship in 1972 and

became a member of the Faculty of Advocates two years later.

He spent three years as Solicitor-General from 1989 when Lord Fraser

of Carmyllie was Lord Advocate.

He was elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy in 1991 and in

June this year Glasgow University conferred on him the honorary degree

of Doctor of Laws.

As Lord Advocate, he presided over a number of important changes in

the criminal justice system, including the introduction of the right of

the prosecution to appeal against sentences it thinks are too soft.

Recently, Lord Rodger appeared in person at the Court of Criminal

Appeal to argue that sentences of four years imposed for a brutal

assault outside a Glasgow night club were too lenient. After watching a

security video of the incident, the appeal judges agreed and increased

the sentences to seven years.

He also has had to defend the prosecution system against persistent

claims of Government underfunding.

In 1993, in an article written for The Herald, Lord Rodger said:

''Doubtless in an ideal world we would all like more resources but

taxpayers have a right to expect that all the existing money is spent as

efficiently as possible before they are asked to pay more for the

prosecution of crime.

''That means first creating the conditions in which the prosecution

system can work more efficiently.''

With that in mind, the Crown Office has been conducting a wide-ranging

review of the criminal justice system. One of the aims has been to cut

down the amount of time wasted by police and civilian witnesses waiting

to give evidence in cases which do not go ahead.

Lord Rodger pointed out that in 1992, 80.5% of summary cases set down

for trial on a given day did not proceed to trial.

* Lord Rodger was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1974 and

became a QC in 1985. He was an Advocate-depute between 1985 and 1988,

Solicitor-General for Scotland from 1988 to 1992 and has been Lord

Advocate since then.

He was the last undergraduate at Glasgow University to obtain a double

first in Scots law and Civil law.

Lord Rodger is held in high regard as an international jurist and is

believed to be the only British law officer to have taken part in

proceedings before the International Court of Justice, the European

Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, and the European

Commission of Human Rights.

* Donald Sage Mackay, a son of the manse, was educated at George

Watson's College, before graduating from the Universities of Edinburgh

and Virginia. He qualified as a solicitor in 1971 and practised for five


Married with a son and two daughters, Mr Mackay was called to the

Scottish Bar in 1976, prosecuted as an Advocate-depute from 1982 to 1985

and was appointed Solicitor-General for Scotland in May this year. He

was also a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board from 1989

to 1995.

Mr Mackay, the brother of BBC journalist Alan Mackay, appeared at the

Orkney sex abuse inquiry and attacked press reports which described the

hearing as a ''gravy train'' for lawyers.

* At 38, Paul Benedict Cullen, is one of the youngest men to become

Solicitor-General. The son of a surgeon, Mr Cullen was educated at St

Augustine's High School in Edinburgh and graduated with an honours law

degree from Edinburgh University.

Mr Cullen was called to the Scottish Bar in 1982 after serving his

legal apprenticeship by devilling under Mr Alan Rodger QC, as he then


He served as an Advocate-depute from 1992 to 1994 and prosecuted in

the case of Alastair Thompson, jailed for a minimum of 20 years for

murdering a homosexual man in Dundee then dumping parts of his body in

bin bags.

Mr Cullen is married to a solicitor and has three children.