‘Brilliant legal mind’ to be new Tory chair

Richard Keen has represented many high-profile cases. Picture: Jane Barlow
Richard Keen has represented many high-profile cases. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Richard Keen, QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, has been appointed as the new chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Richard Sanderson Keen was born in Sussex on March 29, 1954 and educated at The King’s School, Rochester, and Dollar Academy, before studying at Edinburgh University.

He married Jane Anderson in 1978 and the couple live in Edinburgh and have a son and a daughter.

Mr Keen was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1980 and served as standing junior counsel in Scotland to the Department of Trade and Industry from 1986–93. He was appointed a QC in 1993.

He has also been admitted to the Bar in England and Wales and was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 2007, but plans to step down from that job when he takes up his new political role.

A counsel at the inquiry into the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, he went on to lead the defence of Al Amin Khalifa Fhima, the Libyan acquitted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

He represented the Weir Group over breaching UN sanctions on Iraq in 2001.

Mr Keen also briefly represented Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan in his 2006 defamation action against the News of the World, before Mr Sheridan sacked his entire legal team. He has since been hired by Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, who has been charged in Scotland with perjury.

He represented the family of Henri Paul, the driver of the car in which Diana, Princess of Wales died, in a case in 2007.

Last year he successfully contested at the Court of Session a 12-month transfer embargo imposed by the Scottish FA on Rangers over several rule breaches relating to the insolvency of the club.

Mr Keen also represented a group of rebel shareholders in Rangers earlier this year in a court action that resulted in the blocking of their annual general meeting.

He is highly regarded and has been described by his peers as a brilliant legal operator, with a reputation for mastering the most complex material.

Once featured on a list of the top 100 earners in Scotland, his interests include golf, skiing, shooting and opera. He is a member of the New Club, and Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society and is said to enjoy fast cars.

He said he agreed to become Scottish Tory chairman because it was in the “interests of Scotland” that the Tories be effectively represented during the current constitutional debate. He said the Scottish Tories were “down but not out” and predicted that a No vote in next year’s independence referendum could be a “springboard” for them to improve on their tally of only one Scottish MP in the 2015 general election. He will take up the post in January.