WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-11 > 1194090112
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] WALSH: Brian Walsh
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2007 11:41:52 -0000
His Honour Judge Brian Walsh
Last Updated: 10:28pm BST 23/08/2001
HIS HONOUR JUDGE BRIAN WALSH, the Recorder of Leeds, who has died aged 65,
had been one of the outstanding Silks on the North Eastern Circuit.
A tall, imposing figure, with a resonant voice that he used to telling
effect, Walsh was a fearless advocate with a shrewd instinct and sound
judgment. Meticulous in his preparation and devastating in
cross-examination, he was never one to let dishonest witnesses off the hook.
In 1993 he was chosen to defend in one of the most disturbing cases in
recent history, the trial of the two boys found guilty of murdering the
Liverpool infant James Bulger. Both defendants were 10 at the time of the
murder, and at the trial at Preston Crown Court, the floor of the central
dock had to be raised by 12 inches so that they could see what was going on.
Acting for Jon Venables, Walsh went to great lengths to ensure that his
client understood the procedure.
As Recorder of Leeds from 1996, Walsh became the effective head of the
area's judiciary. The Leeds Combined Courts Centre is one of the largest in
the country, and he earned great respect for the calm and courteous way in
which he discharged his substantial administrative burden.
Walsh enjoyed the full confidence of the Bar, the police, the Crown
Prosecution Service and the social services as an impartial and extremely
able judge with an outstanding legal brain. He did not flinch from imposing
tough sentences when circumstances demanded.
His overriding concern was to find the best way of securing the interests of
justice, and when he felt people had fallen short of his own high standards
he was not shy of saying so. He had an attractive turn of phrase and could
amuse others with a minimum of effort. He was much in demand for
Brian Walsh was born in Leeds on June 17 1935, the son of a Jewish
solicitor. At the end of the Second World War, his father was seconded to
the Indian Army at Srinagar, where Brian attended the Sheikh Bagh School.
When the family returned to England, he went to Leeds Grammar School,
playing rugby for the XV and becoming the first Jewish head boy.
He read Law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and was elected
President of the Union. From 1954 until 1956 he did his National Service as
a Pilot Officer in the RAF. He then read for the Bar and was called by
Middle Temple in 1961 as winner of both the Blackstone and Harmsworth
scholarships. He entered chambers in Leeds to practise in common law on the
North Eastern Circuit. There he soon began to display his flair for
advocacy. His interventions were invariably perfectly timed. A clearing of
the throat indicated that the coup de grace was imminent.
One of the biggest cases Walsh appeared in as a junior was the prosecution
of Judith Ward in 1974, following the bombing of a coach on the M62. He was
led by John Cobb QC and Peter Taylor QC. By the time of Miss Ward's appeal
in 1992, Cobb had died but both Walsh and Taylor offered to give evidence;
the DPP declined their offer.
The appeal judges criticised the failure by the prosecution team to disclose
to the defence evidence favourable to Miss Ward. In particular they cited a
"misleading" letter drafted by Walsh about a police interview that was
passed off as "peripheral". Neither Cobb nor Taylor, who was by then Lord
Chief Justice, were named in the appeal judgment, which rather gave the
impression that Walsh was solely to blame.
Some time after the appeal, written advice from leading counsel in the case
came to light. This showed that Walsh had been following advice in drafting
the letter. Since he was the junior member of the team, this was not
surprising. The uncomplaining way in which he had borne the inference to the
contrary demonstrated the courage and dignity of the man.
Walsh took Silk in 1977 and served as Leader of the North Eastern Circuit
from 1990 until 1994. He gained experience as a recorder between 1972 and
1996, before being appointed to the circuit bench.
Away from the law, Walsh enjoyed good food, golf and watching cricket. He
became a member of the committee of Yorkshire County Cricket Club in 1984
and chairman in 1986 in the aftermath of the Boycott affair. His charm and
diplomacy did much to heal the rifts at a difficult time. After the end of
his term as chairman in 1991, he was made a Vice President for life.
He served as a governor of Leeds Grammar School and of Leeds Girls' High
School. He became a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in 1998.
Brian Walsh married, in 1964, Susan Frieze; they had two daughters.