The SNP’s Joanna Cherry has urged MPs to back her bid to reform the office of the Lord Advocate, to help avoid the "suspicion of political interference".

The KC said concern about potential conflicts of the role “had increased in recent times because of some high profile cases".

She pointed to the Scottish Government's botched handling of complaints against Alex Salmond, which saw an internal investigation into the former first minister struck out by a judicial review in 2019, and saw him awarded £512,250 in legal costs.

The MP also mentioned the Rangers malicious prosecution scandal, which saw several people involved in the administration and acquisition of the club wrongly prosecuted.

Civil claims by those involved are set to cost the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service £60.5m in payouts. 

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Currently, the law officer is both the head of Scotland’s prosecution service and the Scottish Government’s top legal adviser.

The Edinburgh South West MP lodged a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament on Wednesday which would give the Scottish Parliament the power to split the role.

In a speech in the Commons, Ms Cherry made clear that she was not criticising the current Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain.

She said it was that the “historical anachronism” of the dual role could “give rise to a conflict of interest, or at the very least the perception of a conflict of interest".

The SNP’s last Holyrood manifesto promised to “consult on whether the dual functions of the Law Officers, as head of the independent prosecution service and principal legal advisers to the Scottish Government should be separated".

A review has now been completed and is due to be published soon. However, currently, only Westminster has the power to either create a new law officer or a new public prosecutor.

“That is why my bill is necessary,” Ms Cherry said. “Given that both criminal and civil justice are devolved matters, it is only right that the Scottish Parliament decide how best to reform the role of the Lord Advocate.”

In 2007, almost immediately after the SNP came to power Alex Salmond took steps to “depoliticise” the role, saying he wanted law officers who were "independent of politics" with Eilish Angiolini, the holder of the post at the time, no longer routinely sitting in cabinet.

Ms Cherry told MPs that the downside of this was that it deprived the Scottish Government of the “benefit of advice from a lawyer who shares their political persuasion.”

“Such advice was previously available to other governments and it’s something from which the United Kingdom government benefits.”

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The KC said concern about potential conflicts of the role “had increased in recent times because of some high profile cases, including the Scottish government's handling of complaints against Alex Salmond, the malicious prosecution scandal in relation to prosecutions over the takeover of Rangers Football Club, and the police investigation into SNP finances".

She said there had considerable disquiet back in 2000, when the Labour appointed Lord Advocate was “performing the role of politician, prosecutor and judge maker.”

“It is very important that the role of chief prosecutor in any state be free from all suspicion of political interference,” Ms Cherry said. “I stress I'm not saying there has been political interference, I want to protect the role from the suspicion that there might be.”

Ms Cherry’s bid has cross-party support. Crucially, both Secretary of State Alister Jack and his shadow, Ian Murray back the Bill.

It is almost impossible for a Private Members’ Bills to end up on the statute books without government support.

Of the 192 Private Members’ Bills put before Parliament in the 2019-21 session, only seven received royal assent.