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Speech by President of the Queen’s Bench Division – Criminal Justice: The Past and The Future

Introduction

  1. Can I start by expressing my thanks for having been asked to deliver this lecture, although it is a particularly poignant time for me? In exactly 10 days’ time I reach the official age of judicial senility and will depart the scene after nearly 50 years of operating at all levels across the criminal justice system. It seems fitting therefore that this evening I start to talk about how a number of aspects of that system have evolved during my time working within it, and I will focus on the evolution and development of the trial process. For those of you who really have nothing better to do, I will be following this lecture with a Valedictory Lecture tomorrow evening at UCL where I will focus on one small but vital part of the system which attracts too little attention. Forgive me if I do not provide a spoiler!
  2. I feel honoured to be delivering this lecture named after a judge before whom I appeared when he was on the High Court bench but not thereafter. I have two memories of him. The first was of his sweeping along the Law Lords corridor waiting to argue some pressing case when I, a young junior, stood nervously to resist an application for leave to appeal; he stopped to provide a kindly word. The second was also in the 1970s when I appeared before him at the Employment Appeal Tribunal. I had taken over an appeal and abandoned many of the grounds which I felt unarguable; he commended my approach, commenting that I had obvious experience pruning roses.

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