By Bill Heaney
LibDem MSP Willie Rennie MSP has said that the launch of a fraud probe into SNP donations shows the need for an independent Director of Public Prosecutions, separate from the Lord Advocate’s role as the Scottish Government’s chief law officer.
Last week Police Scotland confirmed that it launched a fraud investigation after a series of complaints over donations made to the SNP.
Under the present system, the newly appointed Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain, pictured left, is both the Scottish Government’s senior law officer and the head of the Crown Office, Scotland’s prosecution service.
Mr Rennie said: “It has been clear for some time that the role of Lord Advocate needs split to end the apparent conflicts of interest.
“Only Peter Murrell [the First Minister’s husband]knows what the police probe will uncover but it is a bad look for decisions over prosecutions to be taken by the same person who is responsible for giving the First Minister her legal advice.
“Dorothy Bain is a figure of the utmost integrity but I am sure that she recognises that this is not an ideal situation for anyone to be put in.
“In the later days of the last parliament, the conflict of interest between the duties of the Lord Advocate fell into sharp focus. The police probe into the SNP has brought it to the fore once more.
“An independent Director of Public Prosecutions to run the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service could ease the pressure and reassure the public that there is no conflict between these two roles.
“This reform is in the hands of the First Minister. She should act now to make it happen.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should make it happen.