JOHN Beckett, QC, was backed by MSPs to succeed Elish Angiolini as Solicitor General - an GBP89,000-a-year post.

Born in Crawley in the English Home Counties 44 years ago, he came to Edinburgh as part of a family of five in 1968, attending Broughton High School and then Edinburgh Academy before studying law at Edinburgh University.

He worked with George More's company of defence lawyers before joining rival firm Sinclairs, becoming a partner there prior to training as an advocate and being called to the bar in 1993.

He then became a prosecutor in the High Court, taking a number of high profile cases such as the murder of the baby Caleb Ness and a series of Crown appeals.

The case of Alexander Ness killing his baby, Caleb, led to wholesale reforms of the social work system. Mr Beckett also prosecuted William Ferris for the murder of Jason Hutchison in Ayrshire and the case of Ian Geddes, who faked the will of his cousin Charles MacKay before murdering him.

He also conducted a series of Crown appeals, including a 2005 case which clarified rape law, another in 2006 which clarified the law on provocation, and a successful appeal against too lenient a sentence in the case of a double murder.

In his Crown Office role he has been at the forefront of implementing the Bonomy reforms which streamlined High Court procedures for victims and witnesses.

In this he will have demonstrated his ability to work with Ms Angiolini.

Described as a "non-active" member of the Labour Party, he lives in Edinburgh, is married with three young children, and is a keen hillwalker who has climbed in Scotland, Europe, Africa and South America.

The Scottish Executive said: "He has been at the forefront of operations in the prosecution service to ensure the successful implementation of the Bonomy reforms, changes which have already dramatically reduced the number of witnesses required to attend court and the proportion of trials adjourned."