It was bedlam in Edinburgh with cheers, shouts of "George" and "hi" as hundreds gathered at an iconic 19th century university graduation venue for a red carpet event.

This was all for the arrival of Holywood star George Clooney and his wife Amal who were at the McEwan Hall for a Postcode Lottery bash yesterday evening.

There was the suave actor and film-maker's usual wise cracking good humour.

While posing for pictures he was asked what it meant to be in the country. He said: "Great. Thanks for the weather, it's nice now.

"It's the first time I have seen the sun since I've been here."

And at one point he remarked: "I have to take a picture with my wife or she'll freeze to death".


But amidst all the celebrity pizzazz, the selfies, the chirping over Amal's midnight blue satin gown, and George's navy pinstriped suit and ocean blue button-down, there was a very serious side to their visit.

During the Edinburgh-based lottery's special gala, the couple were being honoured for their humanitarian work through the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

And the Clooney glitz soon turned to gravitas when revealing radical plans to tackle world injustice with a special index measuring international human rights abuses Their new initiative TrialWatch, aims to expand the presence of trained observers in courtrooms around the world “where trials pose a high risk of human rights violations.

They are training a network of monitors to observe trials and contribute to an international data collection effort, while establishing a set of best practices for monitoring tanywhere in the world.

It will focus on trials that target journalists, human rights defenders, members of the LGBTQ community, women and girls, and religious minorities, and a given trial will be graded by a team of legal experts based on international fair trial standards.

And the Clooneys told how they are setting up an world injustice index to rank how countries perform, judging who deserves investment and aid, while advocating against the use of courts to oppress vulnerable groups, silence speech, or target political opponents.

"Countries that aren't particularly great love to use courtrooms to do really rotten things," Mr Clooney said at the gala. "You can hide behind something by saying that the judge and the jury found this person guilty and oftem times putting journalists and innocent people or people protesting government in jail. We thought there might be a way we could help at least shine a light on this."

Mrs Clooney, a human rights lawyer, after remarking that she had not seen so many screaming for a long time, expanded on their vision.

"Courts are usually the best way for people's human rights to be protected and upheld but in many countries around the world, they are being used to repress and suppress people's rights.

"We are looking at particularly vulnerable groups that include journalists, women and girls, religious minorities, LGBT, the groups being targeted through the courts. Governments are hiding behind judges and prosecuters to silence people when they get criticised to repress groups.


"We are conducting monitoring all over the world. We have people in courtrooms that are taking notes of what is happening using an app we developed with Microsoft to record the results.

TrialWatch will be run in partnership with the American Bar Association, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Columbia, where Amal Clooney has been a visiting law professor since 2015.

"The idea is to fight for justice in individual cases," she said. "We can fund and conduct advocacy when there has been an injustice in indvidual cases and over time we are gathering data in a way that will allow us to plot all of the countries in the world in an injustice index."

"That can useful for many reasons in terms of which countries people will be investing in and which countries should be receiving aid. It is just something that doesnt exist at the moment. "We have a way of knowing whether an election is free or fair, we have indexes that measure corruption."

George Clooney's appearance in the city comes after hundreds of people turned out to welcome him when he visited homelessness campaigners Social Bite and the headquarters of the People’s Postcode Lottery in Edinburgh in November 2015.

Before the gala, the couple stole some words with Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, a human rights and female genital mutilation activist and ambassador for charity AmRef. Nice was named in Time Magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people of 2018.

The Clooney's campaign was honoured both verbally and financially, having received a £1m boost from players of the Postcode Lottery.


They follow the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Dame Emma Thompson and the Prince of Wales, who have previously been honoured by the charity.

The Clooneys were presented with their awards by the First Minister.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Amal and George Clooney are worthy recipients of these Postcode Hero Awards which recognise their outstanding commitment to improving people's lives and ensuring some of the most vulnerable people in our world get the justice, opportunities and support that they need.

"This funding from People's Postcode Lottery will support the Clooney Foundation for Justice's powerful work to advance justice for marginalised or persecuted groups, refugees and displaced children."

Women's rights campaigner, Nice Nailantei Leng'ete, was also presented with a Postcode Hero award in recognition of her work to end female genital mutilation among Maasai communities in Kenya.

The annual People’s Postcode Lottery Charity Gala is a celebration of the work done by the charities which are supported by the lottery’s players.

In total, players have raised more than £400 million for charities and good causes since 2005.

The Clooney Foundation launched three years ago, has previously focused on refugee issues, including sponsoring the resettlement of Syrian and Yazidi refugees in the United States.