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The Judges of our High Court

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  • Author: Richard Michael Lamb


Yes I am truly fortunate to have known many of these Judges. So esteemed, face to face, but also by their Honourable reputation alive or dead

The Chronological order by appointment to the Bench R.M.Lambs favoured High Court Judges:-


Sir Henry Hawkins: Puisne Judge: in second part 19th Century (later Baron Park) Queens Counsel before becoming High Court Judge.


Sir Travers Humphreys – Kings Bench Division puisne Judge Then Court of Criminal Appeal, (retired near 1950) as Lord Justice of Appeal on Kings Bench Division (Kings Counsel)


Sir Rayner Goddard Lord Chief Justice in Kings Bench Division (Retired late 1950’s) Kings Counsel before appointment to Kings Bench in 1930’s. Also a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary before becoming Lord Chief. (Puisne Judge in Kings Bench Division once)


Sir Norman Birkett (Kings Counsel in 1920’s and 1930’s) then puisne Judge on Kings bench: 1941 – finally Lord Justice of Appeal. Died 1961. Renowned Kings counsel in Capital trials pre WWII


Sir Tom Denning – Kings Counsel in 1930’s/40’s and master of the Rolls (1961-1982 approx) A puisne Judge in our Kings Bench Division in the 1940’s Then a Lord Justice of Appeal in the 1950’s. a Lord of Appeal in ordinary before Master of the Rolls

Note: Sir Tom Denning and Sir Norman Birkett are the last two Kings Counsel and puisne Kings Bench judges on my list in point of time. All these five Judges passed sentence of death in the roles as puisne Judges of our Kings Bench Division and in the case of Sir Henry Hawkins as a Queens Bench Judge.


Sir John Widgery: Lord Chief Justice in 1970’s and Queen Bench Division Puisne Judge before.


Sir Aubrey Meflord Stevenson (The Hon.Mr Justice). He had been a Naval Judge Advocate in a post-war Capital Trial in Hamburg, but served as a puisne Judge of our Queens Bench Division in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He was Queens Counsel for the Defence of Ruth Ellis accused of murder (hanged) in 1955 – by The Hon. Mr Justice Cecil Havers, the Trial Judge.


Sir Geoffery Lane: Lord Chief Justice and Queens Counsel. Served as lord Chief in the 1980’s. Puisne Judge of our Queens Bench Division before. He prosecuted Henratty as Leading Counsel and QC for the Crown in early 1960’s, the last man to be hanged in England & Wales Jurisdiction before abolition in 1965. Presiding judge: Mr Justice Gorman at Bedford Assizes.


Sir Patrick O’Connor. Pusine Judge in Queens Bench Division, Queens Counsel and Lord justice of Appeal (1960’s-1980’s) A personal Injury Practitioner from 2, Crown Office Row Chambers (Inner Temple) where I did my first pupillage with Michael Harvey of Counsel in 1975/76.


Sir Stanley Rees QC: (The Hon. Mr Justice in Family Division) Pusine Judge 1960’s-70’s. (Tried the Lord Lucan children’s custody dispute case in the High Court – family division).


Sir John Blofeld QC: (The Hon. Mr Justice in the Queen’s Bench Division) – (1983-90’s) Now retired. Puisne Judge. Appointed after I last met him in October 1982


Sir Nigel Davis QC: Lord Justice of Appeal. Before Puisne Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division. (Practised at the Chancery Bar in Lincoln Inn from his call in 1975) He is a serving Judge in our court of Appeal: both Criminal and Civil Divisions as I write.

Summary of these last three names High Court Judges: I knew them all to quite an extent: In a private and personal aspect. I have not met Stanley Rees since 1975 (now dead)


Sir Stanley Rees QC: I marshalled for in Swansea High Court (Queens Bench Division) on that Welsh Circuit staying in the judges Lodgings on the Gower peninsular – in 1975. He was a Family Division Judge sitting in the Queen’s Bench Division in South Wales in 1975.


Sir John Blofeld QC: I knew in my 5, Kings Bench Walk, Inner Temple Chambers days as a Tenant therein (1977-82) before he became a Judge in our Queens Bench Division in 1984: likely date. He was the acting Head of Chambers who commanded me to leave those Chambers effectively from Jan 1983. A momentous decision.


Sir Nigel and I have been firm friends for over 40 years. We met at Bar School, Lincolns Inn (1973-75) We remain good friends: - Angel my spouse and I, with Sir Nigel and his spouse Emma, Lady Davis.

Note: These Judges listed are conclusive for R.M.Lamb’s named and selected Judges: all of our High Court.


On one occasion I appeared before Lord Chief Justice Lane and his brother Judges in an Appeal against conviction by Judge and Jury to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. There was no other appearance by R~M Lamb before this Lord Chief. This appearance was in 1982. I never spoke privately to this Judge. The Crown represented but not called upon.


Lord Justice O’Connor I appeared before in a similar Appeal (against conviction by Judge and Jury) in 1982 shortly before I left the Bar to be a Solicitor (Admitted Jan 1984) Here again the Crown appeared. I argued before the full court of three judges., Sir Patrick O’Connor and I both attended Downside School but he was my fathers generation. I never engaged him privately.


Sir Tom Denning I knew superficially as a Bar Student and pupil (1973-76). I never appeared before him in his Master of the Rolls Court in the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand.


I am only concerned with the England & Welsh High Court Bench. I have written biographical (and polemical wording resulting) in these brief sketches on.

  1. Sir Henry Hawkins QC
  2. Sir Travers Humphreys KC
  3. Sir Rayner Goddard KC
  4. Sir Tom Denning KC
  5. Sir John Widgery * QC (Combined paper)
  6. Sir Aubrey Melford Stevenson QC
  7. Sir Geoffrey Lane * (combined paper) QC

(All now deceased) but none other. (Six essays by RM Lamb published on my website regarding these Judges since Nov 2014)


Note: My Father in Law, the Rev.A.LBurrell Deceased (Retired WWII military Padre) wrote and spoke about Sir Norman Birkett KC on the occasion of our 14/7/1979 marriage in his Wedding Service Address (he married us in the Church of St.Peters, Ufton Nervet, Berkshire :- Angela and I). At that time, I was a practising Criminal Barrister in Sir Michael Havers QC Attorney – General’s Chambers and I would remain such for at least another three years (Called in 1975 and I joined his Chambers formally in June 1977). (The first four listed Judges on page (1) were before my time at the Bar)


Postscript to RM Lamb’s High Court Judges paper:

Of two of these Judges of our High Court whom are named below and listed on the first page of this paper they were serving Judges in my time at Bar School/practising at the Bar (1973-1982). I never met either of them nor did I appear in front of these two senior Judges. They were: -

  1. Lord Chief Justice Widgery and
  2. The Hon.Mr Justice Melford Stevenson

(who tried the Kray twins in the late 1960’s at the Central Criminal Court). This puisne Judge was well regarded by his brother Judge Mr Justice Stanley Rees as was confirmed to me by Sir Stanley Rees in 1975 on the Welsh Circuit when I marshalled for him.

As regards Lord Chief Widgery he had a reputation formidable for military like decision making and gravity. He was an old school English Judge much feared by the Bar. Appollants and the public. “Puisne” means Junior Judge of High Court


Finale Word: of RM Lamb:

I rely on these leading jurists, who were very senior, most now dead. Save possible Sir John Blofeld QC and Sir Nigel Davis who definitely lives on.

They all twelve will “consider” my case in my essays. Their “influence” in RM Lamb’s mind will be influential. Is my case practical and viable? What is their moral judgement on RM Lamb’s polemic? I truly respect these Judges – some of whom I never met in Court nor outside. I will be driven by the political impetus arising from the English & Welsh who profoundly support the RM Lamb hanging Case, whatever. I cannot read forward, in time, but several of these Judges. So notable, were willing Judicial instruments of Hanging. Yes, I look to their cogent argument in my mind in assistance of my Capital punishment policy.

Temon Estate
R.M. Lamb