Like many people in this room I was saddened last week to read the news of the passing of Jeremy Hutchinson at the age of 102. He was one of the greatest advocates at the criminal bar in the 20th Century. He was, of course, a founding member of the CBA. To mention just one of his many famous cases, he was junior counsel – led by Gerald Gardiner QC – in the Penguin Books case, which in many ways ushered in a new era: metaphorically as well as literally it marked the start of the 1960s. I never had the opportunity to see him in action myself but thankfully it is still possible to hear his beautiful voice. You can go to BBC i-Player and find his interview with Helena Kennedy three years ago in 2014, when he was only 99, in a series called “A Law Unto Themselves”. Lord Hutchinson of Lullington QC, to give him his formal title, was, in the best traditions of the criminal bar, a fearless advocate. He was prepared to stand up not only to the state in the form of the prosecution but also to stand up to judges when that was necessary.
We are fortunate in this country to have an incorruptible judiciary. We are fortunate to have a fearless and independent criminal bar. We know that, even if we ourselves are never directly involved in the criminal justice system, if one of our fellow citizens is accused of a serious crime, they will have access to the best that the bar has to offer to defend them. We are also fortunate to have prosecutions conducted by advocates who must regard themselves as “ministers of justice.” We need you at the criminal bar to make our system of criminal justice work and to work fairly and efficiently in the interests of all concerned, including the public interest.