John Wheatley, Baron Wheatley

John Thomas Wheatley, Baron Wheatley PC KC (17 January 1908 28 July 1988) was a Scottish Labour politician and judge.


Educated at St. Aloysius' College, Glasgow, Mount St. Mary's College, Sheffield, and the University of Glasgow he was admitted as an advocate in 1932. He served in the Royal Artillery and the Judge Advocate Generals' Branch during World War II. He may have been the last advocate to appear before the Court of Session in military uniform. As a young man he played football for Shettleston F.C..[1]

He was an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Bute and North Ayrshire in 1945 and for Glasgow Bridgeton in 1946, where he was defeated by the Independent Labour Party candidate. He was elected for Edinburgh East at a by-election in November 1947 and sat for the constituency until 1954.

He was Solicitor General for Scotland from March to October 1947,[2] when he was appointed Lord Advocate.[3] He was appointed a King's Counsel and a Privy Counsellor in 1947. One of his most significant achievements as a politician was the establishment of the legal aid scheme in Scotland. He was appointed to the bench, with the judicial title Lord Wheatley. In 1966 he was appointed chairman of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland.[4]

The resulting "Wheatley Report", published in 1969, led to the eventual introduction a new system of Scottish local authorities.[5] On 28 July 1970 he was created a life peer, as Baron Wheatley, of Shettleston in the County of the City of Glasgow.[6] In December 1972 he was appointed to succeed Lord Grant as Lord Justice Clerk,[7] a post he held until 1985.

Following the Ibrox disaster in 1971, Wheatley was appointed by the government to conduct an inquiry into safety at sports grounds. His 1972 report became the basis for the Green Guide.

Wheatley was a lifelong Roman Catholic. He was also known for hard sentencing of crimes involving sex. While Lord Justice-Clerk (an appeal judge), he exercised his right to sit as a trial judge in criminal cases, and handed out long sentences for such crimes.


It was Wheatley's memorial service in 1988 which was attended by his old friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern, at the time Lord Chancellor. As a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which strongly disapproves of Roman Catholicism, Mackay was disciplined by his church for having attended the memorial service.


His uncle was the Shettleston MP John Wheatley.

Wheatley's son-in-law is the former father of the House of Commons Tam Dalyell, who married Wheatley's daughter, Kathleen, in 1963.


  1. "Wheatley heads safety inquiry". Glasgow Herald. Glasgow. 5 February 1971. p. 18"."
  2. The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 16424. p. 123. 28 March 1947. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  3. The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 16481. p. 427. 14 October 1947. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  4. "Tasks set for new planners of local government. Members of royal commissions named.". The Times. 25 May 1966. p. 14.
  5. Turnock, David (1970). "The Wheatley Report: Local Government in Scotland". Area. Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers. 2 (2): 10–12. JSTOR 20000437.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 45161. p. 8495. 31 July 1970.
  7. The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 19165. p. 1157. 22 December 1972. Retrieved 5 June 2016.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Reid Thomson
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East
Succeeded by
George Willis
Legal offices
Preceded by
Daniel Blades
Solicitor General for Scotland
Succeeded by
Douglas Johnston
Preceded by
George Reid Thomson
Lord Advocate
Succeeded by
James Latham McDiarmid Clyde
Preceded by
William Grant
Lord Justice Clerk
Succeeded by
Lord Ross
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