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Niall Raymund McCluskey July 1968 to April 2022

The entire membership of Optimum Advocates was both shocked and saddened to learn, this morning, of the death of one of its members, Niall McCluskey. In his untimely death at the age of 53, we have lost true character, and inestimable colleague.

Niall was admitted to Faculty in 1995, having served in The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service following his graduation from Aberdeen University, and having spent time as a defence solicitor in Edinburgh. Called to The Bar at the age of 27, as a young advocate, Niall readily accepted instruction at both first instance and in the appeal court. This prepared him well for the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law from 1999, a development over which Niall enthused, and effectively gilded his already well-honed reputation. This new dawn also drew Niall into other areas of law to which the Convention was applied, and in particular extradition cases, where he became one of the most experienced Counsel in that field. But the Convention was not simply an area of Law to Niall. It represented his compassion for his fellow man, and genuine sense of humanity. His sense of giving was manifest in all aspects of his life, and he gave of himself unconditionally to those who devilled to him. He also took time to contribute to the effective training of his peers, and ensured his knowledge and that of his fellow lawyers was made available to others.

Today, however, as a stable, we mourn the man beneath the wig. He was a man full of fun, compassion, wit and good humour. He will be remembered as a worthy opponent, and above, all, a loyal and generous friend.

Not for the first time, the Gown Room has lost one of its characters.

But our sense loss is inconsequential to that of a family which has lost a husband, and father. Our thoughts are with his immediate family and loved ones beyond.

May he rest in peace.

Niall’s close friend, university peer and in recent decades, colleague Dale Hughes, Advocate had this to say of Niall:-

I first met Niall at University when, like the other callow youths, we knew so little and partied a bit too much. He was even then a larger-than-life character with a ready enthusiasm and not a little charisma.

Niall could talk -for hours on end! : about Law- he was so articulate and a very gifted and clever thinker, and many colleagues sought his sensible views on court strategy; about books – he was an avid reader on politics  philosophy and other current world topics ; about music – he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and loved live gigs. I spent many a happy night at Barrowlands with him among crowds who were mostly our children’s age.

Niall started off his career in Crown Office, was briefly a defence agent and went to the Bar early. He quickly gained a stellar reputation and was one of the busiest and best senior- juniors at the criminal bar. He served as an advocate depute and also was involved in many significant appeal and extradition cases – such was his breadth of talent.

Above all he was a decent and humane man who cared passionately about people; his vocation and justice for all accused to get a fair trial which is the key facet for this tough job we do. He was highly articulate and was equally adept in the appeal court as the trial arena in front of juries. It goes without saying he always did the best possible for clients without compromise.

Always modest of his achievements during his long and distinguished career at the Bar – he could easily have taken Silk – he also found time, in his busy life, for his many friends and interests such as sport, music, literature and current affairs.

Personally, I will miss him terribly as will all his colleagues and friends at the Bar. The tragic loss of another very able, kind and decent man is hard to bear coming in the wake of the recent loss of Stephen. It is a sad reminder of the strains of life and this job we do, and the need to support each other.

My thoughts are with Jacqueline and the children at this most difficult and sad time.