James Wolffe

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Person.png James Wolffe  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
James Wolffe.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh, Balliol College (Oxford)
SpouseLady Wolffe

Employment.png Lord Advocate Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
1 June 2016 - 21 June 2021
Succeeded byDorothy Bain

James Wolffe QC is a senior Scottish lawyer. He is Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, the professional body of the Scottish bar.

On 31 May 2016, the Scottish Government announced that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had recommended Wolffe to the Scottish Parliament for appointment as Lord Advocate by the Queen.[1][2] His successor, Dorothy Bain QC, was sworn in on 21 June 2021.[3]

Jewish ancestry

In August 2018, Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC spoke to The Herald about his family’s past in Nazi Germany:

On a visit to the Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow, Mr Wolffe reflected on the lives of his father and grandparents. While he does not identify as Jewish and nor did his father, the architect Antony Curtis Wolffe, his grandmother, Hildegarde, was from a prominent Jewish family in Berlin. Of his father, who was born in 1920, the Lord Advocate said:

“He talked about how his mother used to comb his hair, which was dark and wavy, in order to make him look less Jewish.
“In the early 30s, he was also beaten up in the street by the Hitler Youth. As he told it, his father went round and told the leader of the Hitler Youth to lay off, which was rather brave in the circumstances.
“I’m assuming they had identified him as Jewish. There also came a point where he wasn’t allowed to play sports at school because he was identified as being half-Jewish and I think that that, for him, was most significant.”[4]

Open letter to James Wolffe

Acclaimed political thinker and philosopher Professor Noam Chomsky is among the more than 30 prominent international figures to have raised concerns about the impartiality of Scotland’s prosecution service, the Crown Office, in an open letter to James Wolffe:


The Lord Advocate Mr Walter James Wolffe QC

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Office

25 Chambers Street,

Edinburgh EH1 1LA

31st May 2020

Dear Mr Wolffe,

We are writing to you to express our growing concern over the actions of both the Crown Office and Police Scotland.

In recent weeks vocal independence supporters and backers of the former First Minister Alex Salmond, specifically the former UK diplomat, human rights campaigner and journalist Craig Murray along with fellow journalist Mark Hirst, have been arrested and charged in relation to comments they made publicly during and following the trial of Mr Salmond. Other supporters of Mr Salmond have also been contacted by police and warned over online comments they made in the wake of the trial.

We are particularly concerned to note that the investigating police officers are the same detectives who led the investigation against Mr Salmond over a period of two years and at considerable cost to the public purse. As you know, the prosecution following from that investigation, pursued again at considerable cost to the public purse, resulted in the acquittal of Mr Salmond on all charges and now raises the most serious questions about why that investigation and that prosecution were pursued.

Whilst we appreciate that you cannot be involved in individual cases you will undoubtedly be aware that complaints of alleged Contempt of Court were made against six other individual journalists widely regarded as being hostile in their reporting of Mr Salmond. No action by the Crown Office or Police Scotland has been taken against any of those individuals. This leaves the distinct impression that Police Scotland, at the direction of the Crown Office, are acting in a manner that is both biased and disproportionate.

As you will be aware, for public confidence to be maintained in our independent legal system the law must be able to both demonstrate it is acting impartially and be seen to be doing so. The actions taken so far risk establishing a public perception that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are conducting themselves in a manner which is biased and is indeed political in nature. Such perceptions risk seriously damaging confidence in the Scottish legal system.

We would welcome your fullest public response to the concerns raised in this letter and any meaningful public assurances you can offer that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are complying with their obligations to act with complete impartiality and to apply the law fairly.


Hundreds of people have signed the letter, of whom prominent signatories include:

Tariq Ali (human rights campaigner, journalist and historian)

Christine Assange (human rights campaigner and mother of Julian)

Bill Binney (former Technical Director, National Security Agency, NSA)

Robert Black QC (Professor Emeritus of Scots Law, Edinburgh University)

Stuart Campbell (Editor, Wings over Scotland)

Marshall Carter-Tripp (Political science professor and Foreign Service Officer (retired) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research)

Professor Noam Chomsky (linguist and political scientist)

Elizabeth Coyle (solicitor)

Gordon Dangerfield (Solicitor Advocate)

Bogdan Dzakovic (9/11 aviation security whistleblower, FAA Security, Ret.)

Katherine Gun (former GCHQ whistleblower)

Sir David Hare (Playwright, screen writer and film director)

Patrick Haseldine (Emeritus Professor of Lockerbie Studies)

Kristinn Hrafnsson (Investigative journalist and Editor in Chief of Wikileaks)

Paul Kavanagh (Columnist, The National newspaper)

James Kelly (Editor of SCOT goes POP! and columnist with The National)

George Kerevan (Journalist, Former SNP MP, former Associate Editor of The Scotsman)

Hugh Kerr (Former Labour MEP, author and journalist)

John Kiriakou (CIA whistleblower)

Clement Laniewski (Lt. Col, US Army, ret)

Neil MacKay (Singer-songwriter, Scottish independence activist)

Campbell Martin (Broadcast journalist and former SNP MSP)

Robin McAlpine (Political strategist)

Ray McGovern (Former CIA Officer, Founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity)

Elizabeth Murray (former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East & CIA political analyst)

Ian Ogilvie (Former intl journalist Reuters, WSJ et al)

Clive Ponting (former Government whistleblower)

Coleen Rowley (Retired FBI Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel, 2002 Time Magazine Person of the Year)

Tommy Sheridan (Convenor, "Solidarity" and former MSP)

Robert Tibbo (lawyer to Edward Snowden)

Yanis Varoufakis (Author, former Greek MP and Finance Minister, philosopher, economist)

Roger Waters (co-founder Pink Floyd, political activist)

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, (US Colonel, Ret, former Chief of Staff, US Department of State)

Robert Wing (former US Foreign Service Officer)

Ann Wright (Former US Ambassador, US Colonel, Ret, and former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war in Iraq)

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has also added its support for the above letter. (The CIoJ is the most senior professional body representing journalists in the UK and the oldest such body in the world.)[5]

Megrahi posthumous appeal

On 15 January 2021, following the Judgment of the High Court of Justiciary rejecting the posthumous appeal by the Megrahi family, James Wolffe said:

“For 32 years the families of the 270 people murdered on the night of 21 December 1988 have shown dignity in the face of the loss they have suffered. Our thoughts are with them again today.

“The bombing of Pan Am 103 is, to this day, the deadliest terrorist attack on UK soil and the largest homicide case Scotland’s prosecutors have ever encountered in terms of scale and of complexity.

“The evidence gathered by Scottish, US and international law enforcement agencies has again been tested in the Appeal Court; and the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi stands.

“After Megrahi was convicted in 2001 my predecessor as Lord Advocate, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, confirmed to the Scottish Parliament that the investigation into the involvement of others in this terrible crime would continue. I reiterate that commitment today.

“For almost 20 years since that date Scottish police and prosecutors have continued the search for evidence. This work will continue; and there remain suspects under active investigation.”[6]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:The Crown came for Craig Murrayblog post29 July 2021Gordon Dangerfield“I go to jail with a clean conscience after a Kafkaesque trial. I believe this is actually the state’s long sought revenge for my whistleblowing on security service collusion with torture and my long term collaboration with Wikileaks and other whistleblowers."