On 15 June 2016, at the University of Glasgow’s Commemoration Day, the University conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Lesley Thomson QC. Thomson was presented by Professor Jane Mair of the University of Glasgow. Professor Mair’s oration is reproduced below.
Chancellor, by the authority of Senate, I present to you this person on whom the Senate desires you to confer the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws: Lesley THOMSON.
Lesley Thomson, until very recently the Solicitor General, was one of the senior law officers of Scotland. Appointed by the Queen in 2011, she was deputy to the Lord Advocate and a member of the Scottish Government. At the time of her appointment, she was only the second woman to hold the historic office of Solicitor General.
Born and brought up in Glasgow, Lesley Thomson graduated with LLB Honours from the University of Glasgow in 1979. Joining the Procurator Fiscal service in 1985, she quickly rose through the ranks. In 2008, she was appointed Area Procurator Fiscal for Glasgow; the most senior procurator-fiscal post in Scotland, with responsibility for some of the busiest courts in Europe.
As Solicitor-General, Lesley prosecuted high-profile cases. In 2015, she led in the Fatal Accident Inquiry following the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy. Together with the Lord Advocate, she has acted as legal advisor to the Scottish Government. From murder to fraud; from inner city nuisance to agricultural crime; from football violence to domestic abuse, her wealth of experience and breadth of expertise have been central to ensuring the effectiveness of modern Scots law and the Scottish justice system.
On her appointment as Solicitor-General, Alex Salmond described Lesley Thomson as part of “Scotland’s tough new prosecution team.” Being tough on offenders has undoubtedly been part of her job, but only part. Whether remembering Lockerbie, maintaining focus on unsolved crimes or highlighting the needs of vulnerable groups, such as elderly victims of crime, the consistent theme throughout her work has been Lesley’s commitment: a commitment not simply to securing conviction but to acting in the interests of all those who are affected by crime.
As the author of Confiscation: A Practical Guide to Confiscating Crime Proceeds, Lesley Thomson is an expert in financial crime. She used that expertise, during her time as Solicitor General, to focus on recovering the proceeds of crime not simply in order to punish the offenders but to maximise the reinvestment of their ill-gotten gains for social benefit and community regeneration.
Passionate, engaging and highly experienced: all attributes which Lesley shares widely with the next generation. Through national outreach initiatives and public speaking competitions, she nurtures the skills which have been central to her own success. Glasgow law students, in particular, have benefited from her motivational words and her valuable practical support. As an active member of the School of Law’s Advisory Panel and one of the Diploma’s Glasgow Legal 40, she has inspired future generations of the legal profession in Scotland; not least young female lawyers.
Lesley was appointed as the second woman in history to be Solicitor General, but in her other passion – rugby – she claims a first. An avid supporter and longstanding club volunteer, in 2013 she was appointed, as the first woman, to the Board of Scottish Rugby.
In sport, as in her professional life, she is committed and inspiring.
Chancellor, I invite you to confer the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Lesley THOMSON.