Called to the Scottish Bar as an Advocate in 1968 and appointed Queens Counsel in 1982 he became Member of Parliament for North East Fife in 1987.
In Parliament he was the Liberal Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesman from 1997 – 2006. He has served on the Members’ Interests (1987 – 1990), Trade and Industry (1990 – 1992) and Defence (1992 – 1999) Select Committees. He was elected Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in 2003 and Elected Leader in March 2006 – October 2007. He is currently a Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, the Intelligence & Security Committee and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
In 2001 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Glasgow and was given a Knighthood in the 2004 New Years Honours List. He became Chancellor of St Andrews University in April 2006.