Crime: general in Scotland

John Scott QC Solicitor Advocate

John Scott QC at the eponymous John Scott QC Solicitor Advocate is a highly regarded criminal defence and human rights lawyer, handling a wide range of criminal cases, including those involving the most serious offences. Since March 2020 he has also been chairing an independent advisory group to oversee the use of emergency coronavirus powers by Police Scotland.

Practice head(s):

John Scott QC


‘As Senior Counsel, John leads the defence team in all aspects of preparation right up to the Trial. John does not shirk away from any issue that requires to be dealt with. He can quickly highlight pertinent lines of inquiry and delegate accordingly.’

‘John is an exceptional leader, in and out of the courtroom. He commands any and all client meetings and is imposing when conducting court proceedings. He has an insatiable appetite for his work. He does not avoid the hard or difficult cases. That is why he is our “go-to” Solicitor-Advocate for the most serious, challenging cases. His ability to effectively control a case, manage the client and conduct a case to the highest of standards, is unrivalled. The reason he stands out is his ability to communicate effectively not only in Court but with the clients too. Managing their expectations is sometimes easier said than done, but John time after time delivers this in, sometimes, the most challenging of situations.’

‘Although there is now a large body of solicitor advocates practising in the criminal courts in Scotland, John is a rarity in that he is one of the few who have achieved the elevated status of Queen’s Counsel. There is a good reason for that: he is one of the outstanding lawyers of his generation. When you instruct John you know not only that he will provide a first class service to the client but equally important he will have the ear of the Court. As legal issues have become increasingly complex over the last number of years particularly with regard to the type of evidence that can be used in criminal trials it is good to have someone like John on your side to help you navigate through those choppy waters.’

‘John’s experience is second-to-none and his expertise in human rights law was crucially important for the matter in which we instructed him. He clearly has the ear of the very highest courts in the country as well has having a very personable and reassuring manner with clients of every background and type.’

‘John Scott QC is an extremely skilled advocate in court. His examination and cross-examination of witnesses is well prepared, focused and relevant. As is often the case, some witnesses say something unexpected. He thinks quickly on his feet and addresses any issues that arise. He is courteous and respectful to clients, witnesses, court personnel and to instructing agents.’

‘John Scott QC is one of the foremost most criminal practitioners in the Scottish legal profession. He has practised for over a decade as Queen’s Counsel in many high profile cases. His diligence and attention to detail are amongst the reasons he is consistently instructed in the Supreme Courts and is regularly requested to chair and report on various government justice system inquiries. John is undoubtedly a “ go-to” counsel for many of his colleagues in the profession.’

Work highlights

  • Instructed as senior counsel in a High Court trial on allegations of historical sexual abuse.
  • Instructed as senior counsel in a High Court trial on allegations of sexual abuse and rape.

MTM Defence Lawyers

MTM Defence Lawyers receives regular referrals from commercial and family law firms across Scotland and the rest of the UK due to its broad expertise in criminal law and in domestic cases in particular. Its clients include high-net-worth individuals as well as insurance companies; recent work in this space has included fatal road traffic charges. The team has been increasingly active for unions and represented a British Transport policemen and a senior government official in serious criminal proceedings. Other areas of expertise include matters involving fraud alongside financial and regulatory crime, including public inquiries. Murray Aitken heads the Falkirk office while Martin Morrow is head of the Glasgow office.

Practice head(s):

Martin Morrow; Murray Aitken


‘I was extremely impressed with the individuals I interacted. Specifically, they brought to the case their intelligence, experience and more importantly their humanity. Throughout the process they made themselves available at any hours and provided all their advice from a place of care and humanity,’

‘The team is available to discuss the case and to ensure that any further expert help is secured, and to explain all this in terms that are easily understood and assimilated.’

‘Martin Morrow is a very able lawyer and court pleader; has an excellent grasp of the substantive criminal law and the rules of criminal procedure; ability to focus on the issues of a case quickly; excellent analytical skills; charismatic and completely unflappable; instils confidence.

‘I work mainly with Murray Aitken who is always well organised and well prepared. He has an excellent manner with clients, and is calm and unflappable. His knowledge is excellent, and that is of great reassurance to clients.

‘The team at MTM is excellent. They are brilliant at client care and understanding how clients feel at their involvement in criminal and regulatory proceedings.’

‘Criminal defence firm offering wider services. Very responsive to client needs. Diligent and thorough preparation of cases.’

Work highlights

  • Defended a high-net-worth individual, who was accused of four charges of assault against their partner.
  • Secured the acquittal of a client, who was facing a prosecution for allegedly having assaulted his young child, causing a very particular type of fracture.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP’s strength lies in handling fatal road traffic collisions prosecuted in the High Court by the Crown’s specialist Road Traffic Fatalities Investigations Unit. Criminal and regulatory defence specialists Clare Bone, Vikki Watt and Alasdair Gillies are the main contacts.

Practice head(s):

Clare Bone; Vikki Watt; Alasdair Gillies


‘A good team of individuals collaborating together, which widens the scope of the firm.’

‘Alasdair Gillies has been the standout solicitor for me. He has shown personal commitment to my case.’

‘I have been dealing with Alasdair Gillies who has been a great support to myself and will always make himself available where possible, his advice and support has been imperative during a difficult time.’

‘They maintain a high standard of professionalism and integrity. Provide factual advice and key updates making you feel valued.’

‘A team with great expertise in relevant fields as well as a professional, personal and holistic approach.’

‘Attentive, informative combined with requisite knowledge in the field.’

‘I have had a very positive experience with BTO.’

BTO has always responded within 24 hours to any questions I have had.’

Key clients

Michael Doyle

Scottish Police Federation

Work highlights

  • Representing a vulnerable driver who collided with a number of cyclists.
  • Acted for an individual facing 14 charges and achieved a successful resolution resulting in a total of four charges and non-custodial outcome.
  • Representing a prison officer being prosecuted alongside a co-accused for careless driving resulting in a multi-car collision.