Introduction to the Inquiry Team


Lord Brailsford

Lord Brailsford, Chair to the Inquiry.


Since 28 October 2022, Lord Brailsford has been Chair to the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry.

Lord Brailsford was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Courts in 2006.

He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1981 and took Silk in 1994. His private practice was almost entirely in the civil courts. He was an Advocate Depute in 1999-2000. In 2000 he was elected Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates, a post he held until his elevation to the bench of the Court of Session.

Between 2003-2006 he was part-time Chairman of the Discipline Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. He served as a member of the Court of the University of Stirling between 2003-2006.

In February 2006 he was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland. He was appointed by the Lord President to be the judge in a family court within the Court of Session in 2012 and fulfilled that role until October 2022. Between 2013 – 2016 he was chair of the Family Law Committee of the Civil Justice Council and a member of the International Hague Network of Judges between 2012 -2022.


Ian Duddy

Ian Duddy

Chief Executive

Ian Duddy was appointed as Chief Executive to the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry in July 2023. He is responsible and accountable for the overall administration and management of the Inquiry.

Before becoming the most senior official to the Inquiry, Ian was Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and has more than 20 years’ experience in leadership, advocacy and human rights, having worked in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). Ian served as a senior diplomat, UK Ambassador, and led the Human Rights and Rule of Law Department, working on issues including war crimes, international justice, religious freedom, and modern slavery.

During his diplomatic career, his overseas postings included Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and leading the UK Team at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Before joining the diplomatic service, Ian worked in the financial services sector and as an English language teacher in Japan.  

Scott Bell

Scott Bell stands in front of a plain background.


Scott Bell is Co-Secretary and Deputy Director of Operations. He is responsible for the development, implementation and management of all operational and organisational aspects to support the Inquiry.

Scott worked in the private sector before moving to NHS Forth Valley prior to joining the Civil Service. Before joining the Inquiry he held various roles including supporting the set-up of The Promise Scotland, independent of the Scottish Government, to drive the change demanded from the Independent Care Review.

Claire Soper

Claire Soper, stands in front of a plain background.

Co-Secretary and Head of Policy

Claire Soper is Co-Secretary and Head of Policy for the Inquiry. She is responsible for the development and implementation of policy and external engagement.

Claire worked in local government before moving to the independent Mortonhall Baby Ashes Investigation and then the National Infant Cremation Investigation. Prior to joining the Inquiry, she worked on the development and implementation of a statutory redress scheme for survivors of historical child abuse in care in Scotland.

Gordon McNicoll

Gordon McNicoll

Interim Solicitor to the Inquiry

Gordon is an experienced solicitor who has previously worked on an independent public inquiry.

Counsel to the Inquiry

The Inquiry has also appointed Counsel to the Inquiry with a range of expertise.

Laura-Anne van der Westhuizen KC

Laura-Anne van der Westhuizen, Co-Lead Counsel to the Inquiry, stands in front of a brick wall.

Co-Lead Counsel to the Inquiry

Laura-Anne van der Westhuizen KC was appointed as Co-Lead Counsel to the Inquiry in March 2022. She called to the Bar in 2009 and took silk in 2021.

Laura-Anne has a broad civil practice, with particular emphasis on commercial law, planning and environmental law and public law. She has represented core participants in a number of prominent public inquiries, including the Penrose Inquiry and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Laura-Anne is on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s panel of counsel and was previously on the Scottish Government’s panel of standing junior counsel. Prior to calling to the Bar Laura-Anne practised as an advocate in South Africa and also called to the Bar of England and Wales.

Stuart Gale KC

Stuart Gale KC, Co-Lead Counsel to the Inquiry.

Co-Lead Counsel to the Inquiry

Stuart was called to the Bar in 1980 and took Silk in 1993. He specialises in public and administrative law, with considerable experience of public inquiries. Recently, he has acted in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry for the organisation representing those who were abused in Quarriers Homes, and he has also lectured in Scotland and the Isle of Man on the form and practice of public inquiries, with particular reference to the Inquiries Act 2005.


Alan Caskie KC

Alan Caskie, Junior Counsel to the Inquiry, stands in front of a white door.

Senior Counsel to the Inquiry

Alan Caskie KC is Senior Counsel to the Inquiry and took silk in 2023. He has been an advocate since 2006 and, prior to that, a solicitor working in Glasgow and London. He is ranked as a leading junior counsel in the fields of immigration and asylum and public law.

Alan brings to the Inquiry his experience of cases before the Court of Session and in the Tribunal system, where he has been a Judge of the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) for over 20 years. More than 200 of his cases have led to published decisions. He is a highly experienced litigator.

David Turner

David Turner

Junior Counsel to the Inquiry

David Turner is Junior Counsel to the Inquiry. He has been an advocate since 2012 and prior to that a solicitor at a national law firm. He is ranked as a leading junior counsel in a number of fields including company law, property, commercial dispute resolution and private client.

David brings to the Inquiry his wide experience of cases involving individuals and businesses, and his degree in mathematics. As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) he also has a keen interest in alternative dispute resolution.

Mary Ellen Stewart

Mary Ellen Stewart, Junior Counsel to the Inquiry, stands in front of rows of books.

Junior Counsel to the Inquiry

Mary Ellen is Junior Counsel to the Inquiry. She was called the Bar in 2021, and prior to that was a solicitor at a large commercial law firm and has experience of public inquiries, having acted for a core participant in the Infected Blood Inquiry. In respect of litigation and tribunal work, she has particular expertise in the areas of professional regulation, clinical negligence and personal injury

Mary Ellen also brings to the Inquiry her experience of working in education. Prior to becoming a solicitor, she worked as a secondary school teacher, and had roles at SQA, Education Scotland and BBC learning.

Faryma Bahrami

Faryma Bahrami, Junior Counsel to the Inquiry, stands in front of a white door.

Junior Counsel to the Inquiry

Faryma is Junior Counsel to the Inquiry. Following completion of her traineeship Faryma accepted a position as assistant public solicitor on the British Overseas Territory of St Helena where she practised both civil and criminal law. Faryma represented citizens in both the St Helena Magistrates Court and St Helena Supreme Court, against the St Helena government.

Faryma called to the Bar in 2015 and over the course of her career has gained experience in a range of areas. Her particular interests include public law, contract, intellectual property, and unjustified enrichment. Following a few years of practice, Faryma took a break from legal practice to gain experience of the financial industry, including the pensions industry, the workings of listed companies, financial regulations (including MiFID II), and taxation.