(3) Judicial appointments
On 12 July 1996, Hazel Aronson QC became the first woman to be appointed to a permanent seat on the Court of Session bench, taking the judicial title Lady Cosgrove. She had previously been a sheriff in Glasgow and, from 1993, a Temporary Judge of the Court of Session. Her appointment was criticised by Lynda Clark QC, who stated that “unfortunately [Aronson] chose to leave the Bar when she had gained only limited experience as junior counsel working almost exclusively in family law. She abandoned the challenge of a career at the bar at a time when many of the barriers and difficulties for women remained. It was left to other women to deal with problems and expand their expertise and experience into the full range of civil and criminal law. … I think [Aronson] would have found her new appointment easier and less cause for anxiety if she had chosen to spend long enough at the Bar to gain that experience which many people regard as indispensable.” Clark later denied that her comments were a personal attack or motivated by professional jealousy, pointing out that her career ambition is to become a Labour MP. “That, however, does not diminish my desire that the experience and expertise of some of the women at the Bar should be acknowledged by appointment to the Court of Session bench in the near future.” (Source: The Scotsman, 12 and 16 July 1996.) On 15 July 1996 it was revealed that Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, a Lord Ordinary in the Outer House of the Court of Session and former Solicitor General and Lord Advocate in the present Government, would become Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General on 1 October 1996. His predecessor, Lord Hope of Craighead, has been promoted to the House of Lords along with Lord Clyde, where they will succeed Lord Keith of Kinkel and Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle as the Scottish Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. Lord Rodger’s appointment was the subject of controversy, as some politicians commented on the apparent conflicts of view between Lord Hope and the Government over such matters as sentencing policy, and Lord Rodger’s previous occupation of Government posts.