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David Colville Anderson, VRD, QC (8 September 1916 – 31 December 1995) was a Scottish law lecturer, Advocate, politician and Judge. At the end of World War II he was honoured by the Norwegian government for preventing a rumoured Soviet invasion, but when his career was ended by scandal, he claimed that he had been framed by the KGB out for revenge.

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Early life

From a Fife farming family and the son of a solicitor, Anderson was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond and Pembroke College, Oxford. He graduated from Oxford in 1938 and then went to Edinburgh University on a Thow Scholarship, where he read for a Bachelor of Laws degree.

Shooting and RNVR service

His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of war. Anderson was well prepared, because he had enjoyed pistol shooting as a hobby (winning the Ashburton Shield at Bisley for his school in 1933) and joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1935. He was a member of the Inter-Services shooting team at Bisley from 1936 to 1938. During the Second World War Anderson served on Royal Navy destroyers, being mentioned in despatches in 1940, and winning the Egerton Prize for Naval Gunnery in 1943.

Wartime

From 1943 to 1945 Anderson was Flotilla Gunnery Officer for the Rosyth Escort Force. He led a special operation to assist in preventing a revolt of Soviet Union troops being held as prisoners of war by the German Army in North Norway in 1945. British intelligence agencies suspected that Stalin intended to use the revolt as a pretext to launch an invasion of Norway, and Anderson was awarded the King Haakon VII Liberty Medal for the successful operation in 1946. After demobilisation he remained in the RNVR, won the Volunteer Reserve Decoration in 1947, and was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 1948.

Legal career

Resuming his studies at Edinburgh, he obtained a Distinction in his LLB in 1946. He won the Maclagan and Dalgety Prizes at Edinburgh. Qualifying as an Advocate in the same year, he became a Lecturer in Scots Law at Edinburgh from 1947 while also practising. Anderson concentrated on government instructions and became Standing Junior Counsel to the Ministry of Works in 1953, transferring to the War Office in 1955. He gave this work up on being appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1957.

Political career

Already interested in politics, Anderson had been Conservative candidate in the safe Labour seat of Coatbridge and Airdrie in the 1955 general election and in the more marginal seat of East Dunbartonshire in 1959. He continued trying to find Conservative nominations in winnable seats.

Government office

Although not a Member of Parliament, Anderson was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland on 11 May 1960. This was a political post within the government (advising the Scottish Office on legal matters) which it was considered acceptable for an appointment from outside Parliament. He was also an ex-officio Commissioner for Northern Lighthouses, becoming Vice-Chairman in 1963.

Parliament

When Niall Macpherson (Member of Parliament for Dumfries) was given a Peerage at the end of 1963, Anderson was put forward to fight the seat in the ensuing byelection. It was speculated that the government's difficulty in guiding the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill through its Standing Committee stage in Parliament led to a decision that the Solicitor-General would be useful to have as a Member of Parliament. He kept the seat with a much-reduced majority of 971 after a low-key campaign.

Subsequent legal career

Anderson was taken ill in March 1964 and was forced to announce his resignation from the government and from the Northern Lighthouse Board on 17 March. Initially intending to carry on as MP, a month later he gave up the candidacy and therefore left Parliament at the dissolution in September. When he recovered from illness, Anderson resumed his legal career and in 1965 was appointed Honorary Sheriff-Substitute for Lothians and Peebles. He was a Chairman of Scottish Industrial Tribunals from 1971 to 1972 and was Chief Reporter for Public Inquiries and Under-Secretary for the Scottish Office from 1972.

Scandal and trial

However, his legal career was ended when he was fined £50 for accosting two 14-year-old girls, and asking them to walk on him and beat him up. Anderson had been in Troon on 18 December 1972, presiding over the first major public inquiry of his new post. The prosecution claimed that Anderson, finding himself out of his home town, had approached the girls and asked them to go to a quiet place with him.

The case had been controversial as the girls failed to identify Anderson and he was given an alibi by one of the staff members of the hotel where he was staying. Anderson's wife also gave evidence that the coat he was supposedly wearing on the night was being cleaned at the time. Anderson, who claimed the KGB had framed him by using a lookalike to impersonate him and get in trouble, appealed the conviction but lost. He was dismissed from his posts in 1974.

Campaign for exoneration

He continued to press his innocence and in 1980 the playwright John Hale wrote The Case of David Anderson QC which was sympathetic to his position. The play was put on in Manchester, Edinburgh and at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith. Anderson had not succeeded in clearing his name by the time of his death. In September 2002 it was announced that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission was looking into the case, but it concluded in February 2005 that the conviction should stand.

See also

References

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Grant
Solicitor General for Scotland
1960–1964
Succeeded by
Norman Wylie
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Niall Macpherson
Member of Parliament for Dumfries
1963–1964
Succeeded by
Hector Monro
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