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Former lord chief justice dies at 82
I was deeply saddened to hear that Lord Judge died on Tuesday at the age of 82. He was lord chief justice of England and Wales from 2008 to 2013.
He last wrote to me on 4 October, thanking me for a piece I had written here about the swearing-in of his successor Lady Carr of Walton-on-the-Hill. “I am sorry that I was not well enough to be present,” he said, adding that he would see me again when he was “next fit for London”. Sadly, it was not to be.
As Carr rightly said yesterday,
Lord Judge was not only a remarkable judge and leader, he was also a true friend to so many of us.
A fuller statement will be issued in due course but for now our thoughts are with Lady Judge, their children and grandchildren.
Igor was totally devoted to Judith and their family, taking delight in everything they did. They were, of course, present at his valedictory ceremony in 2013, which I reported at the time.
He was also a forthright defender of democracy. I reported a lecture he gave a year ago in which he said the United Kingdom would face a “constitutional catastrophe” if governments were permitted to make laws without proper parliamentary scrutiny.
In it, he compared the events of 400 years ago with current developments, arguing that “government by proclamation has returned, insidiously, in disguise”.
It was a theme he had explored shortly before his retirement a decade ago. “We must remain vigilant against the slightest encroachment on judicial independence,” he told his fellow judges, “because without an independent judiciary the rule of law would collapse.”
This was at the annual dinner for the judges given by the City of London. The lord mayor, with a nod to Peter Cook, imagined that he too “could have been a judge but he never ’ad the Latin”. Despite that, Alderman Roger Gifford proposed a toast to the outgoing lord chief justice in what he described as “the proper language of the law”.
Raising a glass, Gifford said: “Propinamus tibi, Domine Iudex, qui in consilio, doctrina, benignitate admirabilissimus, necnon urbi Londinio benevolentissimus, semper fuisti. Ave, Domine Iudex, stupor mundi!”
Igor owed his distinctive Christian name to his mother, who admired Stravinsky. Contrary to popular myth, he was never Judge Judge.1 At Middle Temple, he was Master Judge. And for one triumphant night, at least, he was Domine Iudex, stupor mundi.
Today’s Telegraph carries an obituary of Lord Judge. His death is also reported in the Times of Malta: Malta-born Lord Judge dies aged 82. In the House of Lords, where Judge had been convenor of the cross-bench peers, there will be further tributes today. One came yesterday from another of Judge’s successors, Lord Burnett of Maldon, making his maiden speech: he said “the rule of law, the courts and an independent judiciary are not optional extras or simply a service, but one of the foundations on which all else is built”.
Update 10 November: Carr issued this tribute on behalf of the judiciary:
Lord Judge was a brilliant lawyer and the fairest of tribunals. And, as unassuming as he was, his phenomenal intellect and razor-sharp mind were never in doubt, alongside his incisive sense of direction. He led the judiciary tirelessly — with passion, commitment and energy. He was encouraging of every judge whom he encountered, whether in a training room, sitting on the bench or simply waiting together for a bus.
No list of judicial achievements or legal accolades can do Lord Judge full justice, and this is not the place to recount all of his many successes. But it is perhaps his qualities of humanity and personal warmth that marked him out above all. His words and actions of support, always perfectly-timed and delivered, will be remembered by so many of us.
A photograph of him, robed and smiling, hangs immediately in the corridor outside the Lady Chief Justice’s room. His generous spirit shines through, and he will always remain a presence in the corridors of the Royal Courts of Justice.
We share in a collective mourning at the passing of such a great lawyer, judge and leader, and a true champion of the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
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As a High Court judge, he was Mr Justice Judge — abbreviated to Judge J. There is currently a judge called Jay J.