Paul McBride: Lawyer who enjoyed a high profile outside court

 

Paul McBride, who was found dead in his hotel room during a trip to Lahore in Pakistan, was one of Scotland's most highly respected and prominent criminal lawyers. The 48-year-old was attending a wedding with his fellow lawyer, Aamer Anwar, but retired early complaining of feeling unwell. He is believed to have died in his sleep from natural causes.

McBride was fearless, unafraid to speak out about injustice and intolerance, no matter whom he might offend. His rise through the ranks, and his sociability, saw him mingle with a wide and varied circle within the sporting, political and media arenas, making him something of a celebrity in Scotland.

McBride gained notoriety as an outstanding QC acting in numerous high-profile criminal cases. His fast, agile mind and incisive approach saw him successfully defend Gail Sheridan, wife of the MSP Tommy Sheridan, at the couple's perjury trial in 2010 following their legal action against the News of the World, as well as acting for the family of the former world rally champion Colin McRae at the inquiry into his death in a helicopter crash in 2007. He won the acquittal of the human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar for contempt of court in July 2008 following the terrorist trial of Mohammed Siddique, while other clients included Thomas "TC" Campbell and Joe Steele, whose convictions for their role in the Glasgow "Ice Cream Wars" were quashed in 2004.

McBride also became a highly sought-after defence lawyer following the Arlene Fraser murder trial, when he defended her husband Nat Fraser, and he was defence counsel to Glasgow's "Queen's Park murderer" Marek Harcar, the Slovakian convicted of raping and killing Moira Jones in Glasgow. He also specialised in in regulatory crime, representing the families affected by the Stockline factory disaster (2004) and the Rosepark care home fire inquiry (2010).

The outspoken and media-friendly McBride was also a well-known figure in the football world due to his involvement in a string of high-profile court cases, as well as being a staunch supporter of Celtic FC on and off the field. A self-confessed "hopeless" footballer, he qualified as a referee, and ran the line at Scottish Premier League games until the mid-1990s, when he took silk and landed a prime job as an Advocate Depute. In April 2011, the Scottish Football Association threatened to sue McBride after he described the organisation as "dysfunctional, dishonest and biased" over its handling of Old Firm disciplinary cases. He later apologised for the remarks.

McBride was a workaholic, with a mobile permanently at his ear. Always with an active interest in politics, he made a high-profile defection from Labour to the Tories in 2009, denouncing Gordon Brown's administration as "mendacious and incompetent" and becoming justice adviser to Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Late last year, however, he left them, too, after describing the Scots Tories "dysfunctional morons".

Born in 1963 into a working class family, Paul McBride was the only child of George and Mary. He secured a scholarship to St Aloysius' College, the fee-paying Catholic school in Glasgow, before going on to study law at the University of Strathclyde, from where he graduated at 19. He once confessed that he still had a lot of pimples when he started practising.

With a desire to work in the highest courts in the land rather than the sheriff courts, McBride ignored advice to proceed slowly. He later recalled being told that he was "too young, too inexperienced and had no contacts". In 1988, aged 22, he was called to the Scottish Bar, where he soon established himself as one of the most highly-regarded and sought-after criminal lawyers in the country. At the age of 35 he was appointed Queen's Counsel, said to be the youngest so appointed in the UK.

A generous and down-to-earth man, McBride confessed to "luck and ability" in his remarkable success and never forgot the likes of legal figures such as Donald Findlay, Graham Bell and Lord MacAuley, all of whom heavily influenced him. "In the end you develop your own style but everybody borrows something from somebody else," he said. Always ready to express his opinions, McBride was hired as a columnist for the Scottish Sun on Sunday newspaper. With Lord McCluskey, he wrote Criminal Appeals, published in 2000.

Despite his high-profile, little was known about McBride's private life apart from his love of travel, with Dubai, Barbados and New York among his favourite destinations, until an article in a glossy magazine lifted the lid on his extravagant home-life with his partner Gary Murphy, an interior designer. McBride is survived by his parents and by Murphy.

Martin Childs

Paul McBride, lawyer: born Glasgow13 November, 1963; partner to Gary Murphy; died Lahore, Pakistan 4 March 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas