Len Murray: Tributes as giant of the law and Burns scholar dies aged 90

Friends, family and colleagues pay tribute to a legend of the Scottish courts after his death aged 90.

Len Murray: Tributes to a giant of the law and Burns scholar after death aged 90 STV News

Len Murray, one of the most celebrated lawyers of his generation, has died at the age of 90 following a short illness. 

Mr. Murray had a 40-year association with the law firm Levy and McRae, where he was a senior partner. 

David McKie, the current senior partner at the firm said “I watched in awe as he commanded a courtroom with his eloquence and persuasive skills. He was peerless in the matter of cross-examining witnesses in criminal trials.”

Len Murray defended the last teenager to be hanged in Scotland in 1960.  

At 27, he defended 19-year-old Anthony Miller in a capital murder case.  

Former Scottish Daily Express journalist David Scott recalls that Murray was ashen-faced as he went to the cells to see his client, adding “he wanted to do more for Miller, and he carried the weight of the case for the rest of his life.”

Len Murray died 60 years to the day following Miller’s execution in Barlinnie prison. 

Murray also campaigned for one time client Paddy Meehan. He had been convicted of the murder of Rachel Ross in Ayr in 1969.  

Meehan was eventually granted a Royal Pardon in 1976 in what was the crime cause-celebre of the 1970s. 

Levy and McRae have acted for STV for many years, and successfully helped the broadcaster defeat a defamation action brought by Antanas Gecas, after the station detailed his war crimes in two documentaries in 1986 and 1987. 

Murray’s former colleague Peter Watson, who was heavily involved in the Gecas case, said “he attracted clientele like no other lawyer I know.”

“The great, the good, the famous and the sometimes desperate. Clients included Paul McCartney and Billy Connolly.” 

Murray was a noted Burns scholar, speaking in five continents and becoming Dean of the Guild of Burns Speakers in 2019. 

He was also highly regarded as an after-dinner speaker. 

Warm tributes have been paid on social media.  

Fiona Goldthorpe remembers “an amazing, talented and entertaining gentleman” and broadcaster Angus Simpson said he was “a great man, a great mind and a great friend”.

The former Head of News and Current Affairs at STV Blair Jenkins said: “I was grateful for his friendship and wise advice on many occasions. I don’t think I ever met a more charming man than Len”.

He is survived by his sons Derek and Brian, the latter commenting ‘my dad lived a full and colourful life with equally colourful friends. Please don’t mourn his loss but celebrate his life.”

STV will publish a full appreciation of Len Murray’s life on December 27.

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