ONE of Scotland's most distinguished legal figures is retiring.

Sheriff Principal John Mowat, QC, of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and

Galloway, will be succeeded by Sheriff Graham Cox, at present a Sheriff

at Dundee.

The appointment of Sheriff Cox, 59, by the Queen on the recommendation

of the Secretary of State for Scotland, will take effect from October 1,

the Scottish Courts Administration said yesterday.

Among Mr Mowat's duties in recent years was the task of conducting the

fatal accident inquiry into the Lockerbie disaster in which 270 people


During the #3m hearing he heard millions of words of evidence over a

61-day period.

He was born in Manchester 70 years ago and educated at Glasgow High

School and Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh before graduating at

Glasgow University.

He served as a flight- lieutenant in RAF Transport Command during the

Second World War. After the war he became a journalist, and in 1952 he

was called to the Bar.

He was parliamentary candidate for the Scottish Liberal Party in

Caithness and Sutherland in 1955.

Eight years later he was appointed Sheriff at Dunfermline before

moving to Cupar. Mr Mowat then returned to the west of Scotland as

Sheriff of Glasgow and Strathkelvin.

He took silk in 1988 and shortly afterwards was appointed to his

present post. That same year he was elected president of the Sheriffs'


His successor, who has been an advocate since 1962, holds the same

position in the association.