Monday, November 07, 2016

Name Drop

The current Press coverage that has featured Lord Chief Justice Thomas reminds me that I met him a few times, and heard him speak on several occasions. A rubicund Welshman with tufts of silver hair, he came to my court during the formative phase of HM Courts' Service. and was always full of accurately targeted questions.

As part of the process of setting up HMCS I attended a large meeting at the QE2 Centre in Westminster, representing benches in my part of London. Thomas was part of the platform panel, and I shall never forget his reaction when an HMCS Regional Director got to his feet and asked why, given his responsibilities, he could not be a member of the local Justices' Issues Group (as I was). Thomas delivered a devastating reply, which touched on the independence of the judiciary and the need for the new Courts' Service to get on with its job, rather than interfering in judicial matters. We all sat there spellbound, never having seen such a demolition of a public servant. Thomas' immaculately reasoned speech ended with him steepling his fingers, his elbows on the table, and stating with finality: "and furthermore, I shall not permit it."

We all breathed in again, but it wasn't over. The unfortunate RD still had the hand held microphone, and he got back to his feet as we all cringed, thinking "stop digging" but he raised the mike and said "Thank you". He looked squarely at the platform and said "I'll take that as a 'no' then" He brought the house down.

I mused in the train on the way home about His Lordship. As a schoolboy he must have developed a pretty robust style, having been given the name of 'John Thomas'.

1 comment:

  1. nothing to do with Courts but....
    in Belgium there used to be (might still be) a brand of cigarette called "John Thomas". As a lady colleague once said. . . . .


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