Home   News   Article

War crimes investigator and Highland prosecutor retires

By Andrew Dixon

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Roderick Urquhart outside Inverness Justice Centre.
Roderick Urquhart outside Inverness Justice Centre.

One of the Highland’s most respected, experienced and knowledgeable prosecutors has decided to hang up his gown after 40 years in courts all over Scotland and the islands.

An Aberdonian, solicitor advocate Roderick Urquhart was educated at Robert Gordon’s College and Aberdeen University, graduating in law in 1979.

Following an apprenticeship with an Elgin firm, he joined the Procurator Fiscal Service as a depute in Ayr in 1983.

Then followed appointments to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kilmarnock, Kirkwall and Lerwick before a short spell in private practice between 2007 and 2009.

He also investigated war crimes, working for the Crown Office with law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Australia, Canada and Israel.

Mr Urquhart returned to prosecuting at Tain Sheriff Court before being appointed the sole jury prosecutor in Inverness in 2013. He was later joined by a colleague.

He remained in that role for a number of years before the justice system and its partners moved to the multimillion-pound Inverness Justice Centre.

His final task was dealing with health and safety cases and last night his colleagues honoured him with a farewell dinner prior to his last day at work today.

During his long career, Mr Urquhart had many high-profile prosecutions including the Naked Rambler, GM crop protesters and Greenpeace activists who had boarded an oil rig in the Cromarty Firth.

He recalls one of his most unusual cases: “It was while serving in Kirkwall and it was my only murder there, where the weapon was a sofa bed!”

He also remembered while being seconded to the War Crimes Enquiry meeting Russia’s then senior assistant procurator general for the USSR, Viktor Ilyukhin before being elected to the Russian Parliament.

Mr Ilyukhin then became chairman of the State Duma anti-corruption committee.

Mr Urquhart remembers him bringing high treason charges against former Russian leaders Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and the present incumbent Vladimir Putin.

Like many of Putin’s critics, Ilyukhin died in dubious circumstances.

Mr Urquhart said: “It was at a public meeting of military veterans he publicly accused Putin of criminality and died a fortnight later. It was said he died of a heart attack. His family called an ambulance but it never came.”

Considering his future plans, Mr Urquhart said: “My immediate plan is to do nothing but in the long term, get more involved in my local community.

“I am also a keen skier and I will be walking the dog and perhaps do some research into the history of my profession. I have discovered that the earliest reference to a procurator fiscal was as far back as 1429.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More