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The careless advocate

The careless advocate


Embarrassed senior Scots law adviser guilty of firearms offence

Richard Keen QC, the advocate general for Scotland, has pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 of the Firearms Act 1968 after failing to secure a shotgun.

The UK government's most senior adviser on Scottish law was fined £1,000 after admitting to the offence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The case was brought against the former chairman of the Scottish Conservative party after police were called to a break-in at the peer's home in Edinburgh last year.

During a search of the property, officers found a 12-bore shotgun belonging to the advocate general left outside of its secure cabinet.

HBJ Gateley solicitor advocate Simon Catto, representing Lord Keen, said the senior government lawyer had intended to clean the weapon but had 'forgotten about it through his own carelessness' before leaving for a Hogmanay holiday with his wife.

'This case and the consequent publicity has been the source of considerable embarrassment and he has pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity,' added Catto.

Despite taking into account Lord Keen's prior good record and early guilt plea, Sheriff Frank Crowe said: 'To hold a firearms certificate is a privilege and there are very strict conditions which have to be adhered to to prevent such weapons falling into the wrong hands.

'There was a potential risk with the shotgun not in the secure cabinet as laid down by the regulations.'

Lord Keen, who represented the UK government at the Supreme Court hearing on the triggering of article 50 and who successfully defended Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah at the Lockerbie bombing trial, has been given 14 days to pay his fine.

A UK government spokesperson said the lawyer's 'inadvertent breach' had no bearing on his ability to carry out his ministerial duties. Lord Keen's wife, however, might want to double check his household duties before going on their next vacation.