James Hamilton QC: Who is the lawyer with the potential to decide Nicola Sturgeon’s future?

0
71
James Hamilton QC: Who is the lawyer with the potential to decide Nicola Sturgeon's future?

James Hamilton’s judgment has the power to shape First Secretary Nicola Sturgeon’s political future.

And today, his verdict is due to be released following an independent investigation into whether Ms. Sturgeon misled the Scottish Parliament over alleged complaints against Alex Salmond.

The qualified attorney was first appointed as Independent Advisor to the Ministerial Code of the Scottish Government by former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2013 and reappointed by Ms. Sturgeon in 2015.

The first minister to deny breaking the code would contact Mr Hamilton in January 2019 for an independent investigation into her conduct.

The man behind the independent report, expected to be released Monday, has an impressive résumé who previously served as Director of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Ireland from 1999 to 2011 when he took early retirement.

However, he has been far from inactive since then and was President of the International Association of Prosecutors based in The Hague from 2011 to 2013 when he was hired by the Scottish Government.

Prior to investigating whether Ms. Sturgeon had breached the Ministerial Code, in 2017 he was asked by the Welsh government to investigate whether her first minister, Carwyn Jones, lied to the Welsh Assembly about allegations of bullying within the government.

Mr. Hamilton has exempted Mr. Jones from breach of the Ministerial Code and stated that his report to the Assembly was “accurate and truthful and not misleading”.

Scottish First Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, met her former Welsh counterpart Carwyn Jones at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss her opposition to the Brexit repeal law in August 2017.

However, the former Welsh First Minister would announce his resignation from the Welsh Labor Conference just five days later after being drawn to the scandal.

Trinity College

Mr. Hamilton studied history and political science at Trinity College, Dublin in 1971 and practiced at the Bar of Ireland from 1973 to 1981.

In 1981 he was appointed Full Time Legal Adviser to the Attorney General of Ireland and in 1995 he was appointed Permanent Head of the Attorney General and Senior Legal Adviser to the Attorney General.

He was also responsible for advising the Irish Government on legal issues that arose during the negotiations that led to the 1998 Northern Ireland Agreement.

Ministerial Code

The scope of his investigation against Ms. Stör was much narrower than that of Parliament and was carried out privately.

This investigation specifically looks at whether Ms Sturgeon lied to Parliament and whether she breached the Ministerial Code by not reporting meetings with Mr Salmond when allegations first surfaced.

Mr Hamilton’s report is the first in a series of developments this week that could determine the future of the first minister.

A separate Holyrood investigative report is due to be released Tuesday, specifically looking at the battered complaints process after a judicial review found it was illegal and blatantly biased.

Finally, on Wednesday in a crucial week for the SNP leader before the Holyrood elections in May, Ms. Sturgeon will receive a vote of no confidence in her from the Conservatives.