lawyer and sheriff

born December 10 1938

Died May 2 2015

Sheriff William F Lunny, who has died aged 77, was one of the few lawyers who spent some time in almost every tier of the profession.

He commenced as a solicitor in private practice in Glasgow in 1961 before joining the procurator fiscal service at Dumbarton and Airdrie Sheriff Courts. More exotic surroundings beckoned and he and his wife Elizabeth and family anchored in Caribbean waters when he obtained a post at the attorney general's office on the island of Antigua in 1974.

On his return to Scotland he was called the bar in 1977 and had a busy and varied practice before finally being appointed a Sheriff at Hamilton in 1984.

He was born in Motherwell, one of a family of five children of schoolteachers James and Sarah Ann Lunny and educated at Our Lady's High school in Motherwell and Glasgow university where he graduated MA then LLB in 1961.

Nowadays, becoming a qualified solicitor can take up to seven years of study and training. In the Early sixties, generous local authority grants permitted a more leisurely introduction to philosophy and languages in the Arts faculty before moving on to the law and training was contemporaneous as apprentices in law offices while attending classes. Law students were instantly recognisable in their three piece suits and graduate's ties. Frank however found time for other pursuits, particularly boxing in which he was a speedy and wiry contestant.

He was apprenticed to his namesake Frank Quinn, an experienced and well known face around the courts, and remained with him as an assistant solicitor until he joined the procurator Fiscal service in 1967. By then he was widely experienced in court practice and well aware of the nature and pressures of a busy court's timetable and of getting a case completed. He became known as a tough but willing and fair negotiator to work with, as well as a skilled cross examiner ad most of the court is in which he presented the prosecution evidence concluded business well before nightfall. He always maintained that he simply liked to get things done.

It was also in 1967 that he got the most important thing done when he and Elizabeth McDermott, a schoolteacher, were married. In due course thy had a daughter Anne Marie, who became a maths teacher and two sons Peter and Mark who both followed him into law.

The Lunnys were keen and adventurous travellers and in 1974 an exciting and unusual opportunity presented itself and was impossible to resist. He applied for and obtained a job in the Attorney General's office the Caribbean island of Antigua where they quickly adjusted to the tropical climate and the opportunity toe explore their strange and exotic surroundings.

He had responsible and important duties as Crown Counsel and as a legal draftsman to which he applied himself and thoroughly enjoyed.

Having functioned at this level, he decided to go to the bar on their return and was called and became an advocate in 1977. This gave him the new opportunity to appear in the High Court on criminal business and in the court of session on civil. He built a substantial practice in both courts during the next seven years before himself ascending to the bench when he was appointed a sheriff at Hamilton in 1984.

Hamilton is the largest court in the sheriffdom of south Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway and at the time was manned by seven sheriffs. As a Motherwell boy who had settled in Bothwell, Frank knew the people, their habits and behaviour better than most as well as their difficulties. Although the Sheriffs all came from different backgrounds there was a collegiate spirit and some uniformity and consistency in court business.

Franks motto of getting things done extended to his time on the bench and his decisions and judgements appeared swiftly after he had heard the evidence. He had a clear and profound understanding of the law and was most proud of the fact that he was never successfully appealed on the grounds that he had misinterpreted it.

Frank's advice and guidance was often sought and generously given, not only to those who were new to the bench but also to more experienced colleagues who had encountered new or major problems.

He was popular and respected by the local bar and by the large court staff who enjoyed his dry humour. he eventually retired with some health difficulties in 1998.

Meanwhile, on a family motoring trip, the Lunnys saw a house for sale in the French Alps. As DIY experts, its condition did not faze them and they had the keys within a month. It was to become a second home for the next 30 years or so. It also nearly became a second home to friends and colleagues who visited and were given free ski lessons and vineyard tours by day and discovered to their surprise in the evening that the teetotal sheriff was something of a wine expert and collector.

Despite health problems he had a very busy retirement. His Catholic faith was particularly important to him and he attained high rank in the knights of the Holy Sepulchre, an ancient organisation which helps churches and schools in the Middle East.

He visited European countries and Jerusalem many times to forge links with the organisation in Scotland. He retired in 2013 with the highest rank of Knight Grand Cross of the holy Sepulchre (KGCHS).

Another busy post retirement duty was the chairmanship of Phew (Positive Help Engaging Ways) a Lanarkshire charity providing respite and short breaks in a hotel environment for children and adults with severe to profound learning difficulties.

This organisation had a modest beginning, founded by his late colleague Sheriff John Maguire and his wife Eva in the ealry 1980s with volunteers providing respite care in their homes for a weekend. Frank and the secretary David McKendrick, a former social work chief executive and a committed team raised the finance to have a new state-of-the-art hotel type premises built and opened in Motherwell.

Despite his busy legal career, he found time to be a member of Bothwell's twinning committee and its Village Association. He also helped with the introduction of a local Catholic primary school for Bothwell, on whose council he served for many years.

His sudden death in a way sadly reflected a long, interesting and varied life. He he had just come to a halt in his car outside his local church in France when it happened. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth who was sitting by his side and by their children Anne Marie, Peter and Mark as well as four grandchildren.