Lord Hutchinson, QC, dies aged 102

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Nov 14, 2017
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Lord Hutchinson of Lullington was praised for his “respectful disrespect and his advanced sense of mischief”

Yui Mok/PA

The legendary QC who was the model for Rumpole of the Bailey and whose many trials encompassed Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the Profumo affair has died aged 102.

Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, whose unrivalled career spanned some of the best-known cases of the 60s, 70s and 80s, inspired the books featuring the famous fictional barrister written by his friend and fellow QC, the late Sir John Mortimer.

Among his famous trials, Jeremy Hutchinson appeared in the 1982 case involving the play Romans in Britain, where he defended the director Michael Bogdanov against a charge of gross indecency in a private prosecution brought by the morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse. That prosecution was brought to an end after Whitehouse’s solicitor claimed to have seen a penis from the back of the theatre but Hutchinson demonstrated that this could have been the actor’s thumb protruding from his fist. 

The silk also defended Penguin Books on obscenity charges after the publication of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

He represented two double agents for the Soviet Union, George Blake and John Vassall, as well as the Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson and Christine Keeler, the showgirl at the centre of the Profumo affair, the sex and spying scandal that brought about Harold Macmillan’s resignation in 1963.

Tributes poured in from the Bar yesterday. Angela Rafferty, QC, of Red Lion Chambers in London and chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association said Hutchinson “was one of the finest advocates of his generation. He appeared in many of the great trials of the age”. “He was also an early leader of the criminal Bar and remained a fearless and passionate champion for it,” she said. “He had a truly independent mind and was a unique talent. He will be greatly missed and his legacy to our profession will never be forgotten.”

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, joint head of Doughty Street Chambers in London, praised his “respectful disrespect and his advanced sense of mischief - the essential quality of a great advocate”. Robertson went on to say that Hutchinson’s work defending freedom of expression had made Britain a “more liberal country”. “Listening to his pitched, Bloomsbury voice, ridiculing perjurious policeman and outfoxing hostile judges was a great joy when I was his junior,” he said.

Another QC, Tom Grant of Maitland Chambers in Lincoln’s Inn, who wrote a book on Lord Hutchinson’s cases, described the silk as “a titan of the criminal Bar”. Grant added: “Working as a barrister is an ephemeral business but his name will live on both for his extraordinary qualities as a jury advocate and for his passionate belief in the protection of individual liberty against the might of the state. He mesmerised juries, silenced judges, and fascinated journalists.”

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