Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Advocate General Richard Keen charged with firearms offence

Richard Keen Image copyright Other
Image caption Lord Keen recently represented the UK government at the Supreme Court over Brexit

The UK government's most senior adviser on Scots law has been charged with a firearms offence.

Advocate General for Scotland Richard Keen QC is alleged to have contravened section two of the Firearms Act 1968 by failing to safely secure a shotgun.

Lord Keen is charged with breaching the legislation at his home on 31 December last year.

It followed reports of a break-in at the property in Ann Street in Edinburgh.

A spokesman for Lord Keen said he "deeply regrets this inadvertent breach of licence conditions".

According to court papers, Lord Keen is alleged to have failed to comply with the conditions of his firearms certificate by not securing a 12-bore shotgun.

'Housebreaking'

The charge states that - according to the conditions - shotguns must at all times "be stored securely so as to prevent so far as reasonably practicable, access to the shotguns by unauthorised persons".

The case is due to call at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday 1 March.

Police were initially called to Lord Keen's home following a report of a break-in.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "Following a report of a housebreaking at a property on Ann Street in Edinburgh on December 31 2016, a 62-year-old man has been reported to the procurator fiscal for a firearms licensing offence."

One of Scotland's leading lawyers, Lord Keen, 62, is a former Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and was appointed Advocate General in May 2015.

'One-off error'

Most recently, he represented the UK government during the Supreme Court hearing on triggering Article 50.

The QC successfully argued that the consent of the Scottish Parliament was not needed before negotiations on Brexit formally began.

He is also famous for representing al-Amin Khalifa Fhima, who was acquitted of the Lockerbie bombing.

A statement from Lord Keen's spokesman said: "Lord Keen deeply regrets this inadvertent breach of licence conditions, which was a one-off error.

"He has held a licence for many years and has always adhered strictly to the licence conditions, as evidenced by a number of police inspections."

A UK government spokeswoman said: "We are aware Lord Keen is in correspondence with the procurator fiscal regarding a legal matter relating to an inadvertent breach of licence conditions.

"Having considered the issue carefully, we are satisfied that this matter has no bearing on Lord Keen's ability to carry out his ministerial duties to the highest standard."

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