Young debaters compete in Holyrood final


Restricting media coverage of terrorist attacks will be the subject of debate at Holyrood on Thursday when young debaters from across Scotland gather for the final of the Law Society of Scotland Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament 2015.

It is the culmination of a tournament which involved 128 teams from schools across Scotland. In the earlier rounds of this year’s contest, pupils debated subjects ranging from banning opinion polls in the run up to elections, to Doctors’ reporting of domestic violence. 

Chaired by Deputy Presiding Officer Elaine Smith MSP, the final sees four teams battle for the first prize. The teams taking part are:

  • St Mary’s Music School (Edinburgh) - Anna Michels and Richard Montgomery.
  • Lanark Grammar (Clydesdale) - Rachael Miller and Rhianna McGrath.
  • Madras College (St Andrews) - Jamie McLeod and Ewan Redpath.
  • Prestwick Academy (Ayr) - David Cameron and David Laird.                     

Speaking ahead of the final, Deputy Presiding Officer Elaine Smith MSP said:

“It is fitting that the final of the Dewar Debate takes place in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament, where laws are scrutinized and issues affecting the lives of everyone in Scotland debated.

“All of the finalists are to be congratulated for making it through a tough series of heats and semi-finals to reach the grand final and I am looking forward to chairing what promises to be a lively debate.”

The event will be webcast live on the Parliament’s website from 18.30 to 21.50 ( on Thursday 4 June. 

Established in 1999, Scotland’s largest annual schools debating tournament is open to pupils in all Scottish secondary schools. The competition aims to promote an understanding of the importance of debate, advocacy and communication to the legal profession, democracy and society at large. Organised and run by the Law Society of Scotland, the tournament is dedicated to the memory of the late First Minister Donald Dewar MSP. 

Christine McLintock, President of the Law Society, said: “It has been a fantastic tournament once again. There were a number of schools entering for the first time this year, including one of our finalists Prestwick Academy. It’s always exciting to see a team enter the tournament for the first time and go right through to the final, however all four teams who have reached this stage are to be congratulated, particularly when you consider just how many teams took part in the opening rounds and the calibre of our competitors. They have done incredibly well. 

“It’s a real honour to be able to host the tournament final in the debating chamber of the Parliament again this year and I’m sure it will be a very memorable experience for all those taking part.” 

The winning school will receive a trophy and prize of £1,000, donated by the Law Society of Scotland, and runners-up will receive £250, donated by The Glasgow Bar Association. All finalists receive individual quaichs and certificates to commemorate their success and this year’s sponsors Hodder Gibson Publishers will donate educational books to the value of £500, to be shared by the winning and runner-up school.  

The judges for the event are:

  • Steven Docherty, Head of Conflict Resolution, Wright Johnston & Mackenzie LLP. (Presiding Judge).
  • Jon Dye, Former Chairman of the English Speaking Union.
  • Irene McGrath, Chair of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council.
  • Rob Marrs, Senior Policy Advisor, Law Society of Scotland, and formerly speech and debates officer, English Speaking Union.


Photographs of the event will be available free of charge. Please contact the Scottish Parliament photographer Andrew Cowan on 0131 348 5878.

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