James McIntyre has been described as the real-life Tom Hagen, the fictional ‘consigliere’ or adviser to the Corleone mafia family in The Godfather movies
By Norman Silvester
He was once the lawyer and trusted confidant to some of Scotland’s most notorious underworld figures.
James McIntyre has been described as the real-life Tom Hagen, the fictional “consigliere” or adviser to the Corleone mafia family in The Godfather movies.
But the lawman’s legal career came to an ignominious end when he was caught in his own home with two pistols and ammunition and given three years behind bars.
McIntyre, now a TV scriptwriter, said: “I have no regrets about the life that I chose. I represented a lot of heavy guys and their families over the years.
“As their consigliere, I also advised clients how not to get caught as well as defending them when they were.
“That didn’t mean I conspired with them to commit a crime. They came to me because of my reputation for getting people off and I also believed in defending the underdog.”
McIntyre was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa, where his father was chief medical officer, before moving to Scotland in 1962 and studying law at Dundee University.
While a third-year student, he had been convicted of breaking into an antiques shop in Dundee and stealing a fireplace surround.
He would claim the store was selling Nazi memorabilia and the theft was a protest against the owner.
But his application to become a lawyer was refused by the Law Society of Scotland who said he was not “a fit and proper person”.
McIntyre took his case to the Court of Session in Edinburgh – the country’s highest court – where they overturned the decision.
In 1995 McIntyre represented Thomas McGovern, then 28, who was accused of shooting dead a man outside the Ashfield Bar in Springburn.
He walked free from the High Court when a key witness said he was not the man she saw do the shooting.
McIntyre also represented youngest brother Paul, then 16, who was convicted in 1990 of murdering a school janitor in Springburn and sentenced to life. A third, Tony McGovern, was shot dead outside the New Morven bar in Balornock, Glasgow, in 2000 and James attended his funeral.
Eldest brother Joe McGovern died several years ago and McIntyre admits they were close friends.
McGovern was his best man when he married his wife Evelyn, now 61, and was godfather to his three children.
McIntyre has also represented former underworld enforcer-turned-author Paul Ferris, who has penned the book’s foreword.
Ferris said McIntyre was “razor sharp, with an analytical brain, what mattered way more was that he was one of us”.
He added: “To ask if James sometimes crossed the line would be to assume he was aware there was a line to cross or that he cared.” In November 1997 McIntyre received a three-year sentence at the High Court in Glasgow for the firearms find at his home in Linlithgow, West Lothian.
The lawyer had claimed they were being held for a client, Michael Lavin, who wanted them given to a police gun amnesty.
McIntyre believes he was harshly treated by the authorities and should have been allowed to continue working as a solicitor.
He added: “There was not a shred of evidence that possession of the guns had anything to do with organised crime, as was claimed.
“I believe I was being targeted because I was getting such good results in court. They wanted me off the scene.”
He was also accused of the attempted murder of a member of an undercover police drugs squad who had been following him from a client’s house in Edinburgh.
It was claimed McIntyre knocked down the Detective Inspector in the city’s Maxwell Street and then drove off.
He faced a further accusation of having swallowed a package of drugs.McIntyre was kept under 24-hour watch by police and prison staff for 10 days to check any bowel movements for sign of the offending drugs. When nothing suspicious appeared, he was freed.
Eighteen months later he admitted a reduced charge of dangerous driving after the attempted murder charge was dropped and fined £400.
In February 1993 McIntyre was the target of a failed underworld hit in his offices in Bridgegate, close to the High Court in Glasgow. That lunchtime three men walked in and one stabbed him on the thigh, shoulder and back while the others watched on.
McIntyre was rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where doctors operated to repair the wounds and stem the bleeding.
However, during the surgery, he took an allergic reaction to the metal in his breathing tube and almost died on the operating table.
McIntyre was spoken to by police after the attack but would not disclose the name of the man who stabbed him, thought to be a rival of one of his clients. Even to this day McIntyre won’t say who was responsible
He said: “I was aware of who the person was that stabbed me. The reason I did not give the name is that I don’t believe in
grassing to the police.
“I don’t believe in informing on people when you are involved in that world and that life. It would be hypocritical otherwise.”
The grandfather has used his real-life experiences to become a successful writer for TV shows like EastEnders, New City Law and Taggart.
He has also written more than 80 episodes of River City, including for Frank Gallagher, who plays gangster Lenny Murdoch.
He’s now a devout Christian who goes to church once a week with his five grandchildren.
He said: “I am a believer in God and that God got me through everything.
“My only regret would be any hurt or embarrassment I may have caused my family, including my 98-year-old mum Ettie, who the book is dedicated to.”