After a long delay since the original charges were brought, Mike Watson MSP appeared in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 23 August 2005 to begin the process of answering two charges of willful fire-raising at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh during the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards event on 11 November 2004 (see No 404). Mr Watson pleaded not guilty to both charges, and the case was continued.



On 15 July 2005 Lord President Cullen announced his impending retirement from office, to take place on 25 November.  The First Minister has asked a four-person panel to consider applications to be Lord Cullen’s successor and to report on applicants’ suitability for the post.  The panel will consist of Lord Hope of Craighead (one of the Scottish Lords of Appeal in Ordinary), Sir David Edward (formerly the British judge in the European Court of Justice, and now a Temporary Judge in the Court of Session), Sir Neil McIntosh (chair of the non-statutory Scottish Judicial Appointments Board) and Barbara Duff (another member of the JAB).