Britain lost one of its greatest judges this week when Lord Bingham past away.
Human rights campaigners and lawyers are mourning the former senior law lord who was widely regarded as one of the most brilliant and courageous lawyers of his generation, and described as a “towering figure”, said the Guardian.
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC said: “It is no exaggeration to say that Tom Bingham was the greatest judge of our time – arguably the most significant judicial figure among the long line of notables in the history of the Anglo-Saxon legal systems.”
Bingham died of cancer at his family home in Wales on Saturday, aged 76, having continued tirelessly lecturing and writing since his retirement two years ago.
Professor Robert McCorquodale, director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, said: “He will be remembered as an exceptional man with a brilliant mind.”
Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law at University College London, said: “At a time of real challenge and crisis, in the months and years after 9/11, he was a rock of principle, not starry-eyed about the law but conscious that it reflects deep values that we abandon at our peril. Time and again people would mention passages in his judgments. Fair, robust and principled, he was the embodiment of what we imagine the rule of law to be about.”
Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, who wrote of him as her hero last month in the Guardian, said: “Today lawyers and human rights defenders the world over will mourn this great loss. Tom Bingham was the perfect combination of intellect, integrity, humanity and humility – a very private man who became such a towering figure in legal and public life.
“His achievements are numerous but I will never forget his 2009 speech to Liberty’s conference in defence of the Human Rights Act: ‘Which of these rights, I ask, would we wish to discard? Are any of them trivial, superfluous, unnecessary? Are any of them un-British? There may be those who would like to live in a country where these rights are not protected but I am not of their number’.
“As long as people anywhere fight torture and slavery, treasure free speech, fair trials, personal privacy and liberty itself, Lord Bingham will be remembered.”
Bingham, born in London to an Ulster Irish father, originally studied history, but went on to hold the top law offices, succeeding Lord Donaldson as master of the rolls from 1992 to 1996, and becoming lord chief justice of England and Wales from 1996 to 2000 and senior law lord until 2008. As senior law lord he ruled that detention of foreign terror suspects without charge breached their human rights, and after retiring in 2008 he argued that Britain’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 broke international law.
He was made a Knight of the Garter in 2005, the first judge to be so honoured. Source: The Guardian.
Bingham was also one of the Law Lords who ruled on the HSMP case R (Bapio Action Ltd) v SSHD, which reached the House of Lords in 2008.