JACK McConnell tactlessly told his elected colleagues in the Scottish cabinet that he valued the advice of an unelected minister more than theirs.

The then Labour First Minister somewhat ungraciously rated the input from the Lord Advocate, Lord Boyd, above that of his fellow politicians.

The admission came at the Scottish cabinet of October 4, 2006, when Lord Boyd announced he was standing down after six years in post as “the longest serving Lord Advocate for more than a century”.

He said that the trial of the Lockerbie bombing suspects in 2000 and 2001 at the special court in the Netherlands had been a major achievement for the Scottish justice system.

Lord Boyd led the prosecution of the two Libyans accused of the 1988 atrocity.

However he also told cabinet the botched prosecution of the killer of waiter Surjit Chhokar and the Shirley McKie fingerprint scandal had “created crisies of public confidence”.

In response, Mr McConnelll said it was “impossible to overstate the importance” of Lord Boyd’s role in the Lockerbie trial and conviction, and also saluted his court reforms.

“There was no one whose judgment as a Cabinet colleague he had valued more.”

The following week, Elish Angiolini joined the cabinet as the first female Lord Advocate.