A junior justice minister and one of Scotland’s senior law officers has been fined £1,000 for breaches of the Firearms Act 1968. Lord Keen of Elie (Richard Keen QC) pleaded guilty by letter to the charge at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday. 

He was charged after police investigating a break-in at his Edinburgh home found that a 12-bore shotgun had been left outside a secure cabinet while he and his wife were away on holiday. 

Lord Keen has been the Ministry of Justice spokesperson in the Lords since July 2016. His brief includes legal regulation and promoting UK jurisdictions internationally. 

According to the BBC, Sheriff Frank Crowe said: 'I do take into account Mr Keen’s previous good record and the fact that he admitted his guilt at the outset. Nevertheless to hold a firearms certificate is a privilege and there are very strict conditions which have to be adhered to to prevent such weapons falling into the wrong hands. There was a potential risk with the shotgun not in the secure cabinet as laid down by the regulations.’

Solicitor-advocate Simon Catto, representing Lord Keen, said he had been out shooting on 27 December. On returning home he had taken the gun to the basement intending to clean it, but had then 'forgotten about it through his own carelessness’ before leaving on holiday the next day.

Catto said that Keen has been a shotgun enthusiast for 25 years. 'He is therefore fully aware of what’s expected and required of him in terms of the certificate. He accepts on this occasion he fell below that.’