A LAWYER who two men are accused of conspiring to murder along with Celtic boss Neil Lennon in an explosives plot has died.
One of Scotland's top lawyers, Paul McBride QC, died in his sleep on a business trip in Pakistan.
Mr McBride (48) was found dead in his bed at a hotel in Lahore yesterday morning, a spokesman for the family said.
The lawyer was in the country on a business trip with human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar.
A statement issued on behalf of Mr McBride's family by Jack Irvine said: “Paul died in his sleep last night in a hotel in Pakistan and at this time we would ask you to respect the privacy of his family.”
Mr Irvine added: “I understand Paul was found dead in bed this morning. He had been in Pakistan for a few days and I am uncertain when he was to return to Scotland.”
He said there would be no further statement.
Mr McBride is a former member of Labour and the Scottish Conservatives. He left the latter in June after Ruth Davidson was elected leader.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Paul's genius lay not just in applying his first-class mind to the complex procedures of Scots law, but also his unrivalled ability to explain and promote the laws of Scotland to a wider public. His reservoir of talent was great indeed, and I believe he had so much more to contribute to the law, and to the great debate on Scotland's future.”
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell issued a statement saying everyone at the club was shocked and saddened to hear the news.
He said: “This is tragic news. Paul was a very good friend of Celtic and someone who cared passionately about the club. His passing is clearly a great loss and he will be sadly missed.
“The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic are with Paul´s family at this very difficult time.”
Two men are currently on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of conspiring to murder Mr McBride, Lurgan-born Mr Lennon and former MSP Trish Godman by sending improvised explosive devices to them between March 1 and April 15 last year.
Trevor Muirhead (43) and Neil McKenzie (42) are also accused of conspiring to murder various people in the premises of republican organisation Cairde na hEireann in Glasgow by sending devices to them. It is alleged that both accused, who deny all charges against them, believed the devices were capable of exploding.
Muirhead and McKenzie also deny an alternative charge of conspiring to cause an explosion of a nature “likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property”.
Paul McBride was appointed a QC at the age of 35, said to be the youngest QC ever appointed in the UK. He was called to the Scottish Bar in 1988 and has been involved in many high profile criminal cases in Scotland. Mr McBride was one of the most highly regarded and highest-profile criminal lawyers in Scotland, as well as representing Celtic Football Club.