By Lauren Crooks
A LAW expert and former MEP has died from cancer aged 67, it was announced today.
First Minister Alex Salmond led tributes to the professor, a prominent Scottish Nationalist, saying he was “deeply saddened” by his death.
He said: “He was a man of immense warmth, intellect and breadth of knowledge, and Scotland’s public life is greatly the poorer for his passing.”
“Neil sprang from one of Scotland’s leading political families, and was passionately committed to his party and the cause of Scottish independence.
“Yet his approach was always inclusive, and he strongly believed in advancing Scotland’s case by building alliances, and indeed friendships, beyond those of party.
“Neil was a hugely distinguished academic, an outstanding ambassador for Scotland as a Euro MP, but above all a fine human being.
“His latter role was as a Scottish Government special adviser, where he made an excellent and important contribution even during his period of illness. That was the mark of the man.”
His passing was announced by Edinburgh University, where he worked for 36 years as Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations.
He was elected as an SNP member of the European Parliament in 1999 serving until 2004.
But he retired from Europe to return to academic work and was named as Alex Salmond’s special advisor after the SNP victory in 2007.
And in 2002, he was knighted for his academic achievements.
Professor Douglas Brodie, Head of the University’s School of Law, said: “Neil was a valued friend, mentor, teacher and colleague to many people in the world of law and politics.
“His death will bring great sadness to many in the world of education, law and politics and to his many students, colleagues, admirers and friends. He possessed a staggering intellect, great wit and a wonderful, dry sense of humour, but most of all a warmth and spirit that touched all who knew him.”
Prof Brodie added: “Perhaps no other contemporary scholar has influenced so many areas of legal thinking so deeply over such a long period.”
Neil is survived by his wife Flora and three daughters from a previous marriage.