Lord Mackay of Dru­madoon

For­mer Lord Ad­vo­cate and judge of the Supreme Courts

The Arran Banner - - Obituary - Alan Mackay

When Don­ald Sage Mackay, who has died in Ed­in­burgh aged 72, was ap­pointed Lord Ad­vo­cate in 1995 he be­came known as Lord Mackay of Dru­madoon. Wags at the Scot­tish Bar called him Bri­gadoon, some un­aware of an Ar­ran ref­er­ence. But as he joked him­self, Dru­madoon was a big lump of hill and cliffs that sit above Shisk­ine Golf Club and look over to the Mull of Kin­tyre. Ar­ran played a large part in his life.

As a young boy on hol­i­day in Black­wa­ter­foot if he wasn’t on the golf course or on top of Goat­fell, he would help at Dru­madoon Farm where the farmer was James Cur­rie se­nior, whose daugh­ter Janet was a real char­ac­ter. While a young so­lic­i­tor Don­ald promised Janet Cur­rie that if he ever be­came a judge, the name Dru­madoon would ap­pear.

There was noth­ing to sug­gest a life in law when Don­ald Mackay was born as first child to Peggy and Don­ald, re­spec­tively a teacher and a min­is­ter who were both from Glas­gow.

Af­ter a few years in Aberdeen the fam­ily moved to Ed­in­burgh and Don­ald went to Ge­orge Wat­son’s Col­lege where he favoured sci­ence and maths over the arts and started a life­long pas­sion for rugby.

His first few weeks as a stu­dent were in the Sci­ence fac­ulty at Ed­in­burgh so switch­ing to Law was a sur­prise. But he went on to gain an Ll.B and two fur­ther Mas­ters De­grees, the sec­ond from the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia at Char­lottesville.

On his re­turn to Scot­land, he was a le­gal ap­pren­tice at David­son and Syme, and then worked at Al­lan MacDougall So­lic­i­tors where he be­came a part­ner. Don­ald Mackay’s ear­li­est le­gal work in­cluded as­sist­ing women who’d been sub­ject to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. This he did on a pro bono ba­sis. He was ad­mit­ted to the Scot­tish Bar in 1976, and be­came QC in 1987.

In 1979, he mar­ried Les­ley Waugh, who lived only two min­utes walk from Green­bank Church where the cer­e­mony took place. The few weeks prior to the wed­ding were quiet in Don­ald’s pro­fes­sional life due to a strike by court clerks. He told guests he was pleased to at last be mak­ing a speech again.

Born: Jan­uary 30 1946 Died: Au­gust 21 2018

He spent sev­eral years as Ad­vo­cate De­pute, pros­e­cut­ing in High Court crim­i­nal tri­als. Then he started what was to be­come a highly suc­cess­ful prac­tice in pub­lic in­quiry work. He ap­peared for Orkney Is­lands Coun­cil in the 1991 Child Abuse In­quiry. He also sat on the Crim­i­nal In­juries Com­pen­sa­tion Board for more than five years at this time be­fore be­ing named So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral in 1995, then Lord Ad­vo­cate a few months later, serv­ing in that po­si­tion un­til 1997.

Once on the bench he was en­cour­ag­ing to young ad­vo­cates set­ting out in the courts. It did not pre­vent him quickly up­braid­ing de­fence coun­sel who wan­dered down blind al­leys or wasted ju­rors’ time and his.

Lord Mackay’s col­league Lord Bon­omy said: ‘My first en­counter with Don­ald was also my first ever week in prac­tice. I was Ju­nior Coun­sel to him in a High Court sit­ting. From then on I was struck by the im­por­tance to him of “do­ing right” by those he rep­re­sented and judged. He en­cour­aged and sup­ported my in­volve­ment in a wide range of in­ter­na­tional ju­di­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

Many oth­ers ben­e­fited from Don­ald’s in­ter­est in im­prov­ing and main­tain­ing stan­dards in the wider le­gal pro­fes­sion.’

So­lic­i­tor Graeme Gar­rett, who in­structed him reg­u­larly as ad­vo­cate, said: ‘He threw him­self heart and soul into cases and got on ex­tremely well with clients. They could see Don­ald was on their side. It’s why he built such a big civil and crim­i­nal prac­tice.’

Lord Mackay of­ten in­vited pupils of Ar­ran High School to visit his courts so they could learn more about crim­i­nal jus­tice. Af­ter re­tire­ment, he en­joyed speak­ing in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher. And de­fy­ing girth and slower pace played his part in over­seas fix­tures of the Par­lia­men­tary Rugby Club that took place along­side Bri­tish Lions tours.

Lord Mackay is sur­vived by Les­ley, their chil­dren Caro­line, Diana and Si­mon, and by five grand­chil­dren whom he loved. He was a fine older brother to Fiona, Ali­son and Alan. He will be fondly re­mem­bered by them all and by his many, many friends in­side and out­side the law.

Lord Mackay had a home in Lam­lash and spent many hol­i­days on Ar­ran.

Lord Mackay of Dru­madoon.

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