Sir William Macpherson of Cluny (1 April 1926 – 14 February 2021)

Sir William Macpherson of Cluny (1 April 1926 – 14 February 2021)


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We are very sorry to report the death of Sir William Macpherson, former head of these chambers, until his appointment in 1983 as a High Court Judge.

As anyone who met him, whether in chambers or beyond, would attest, Bill was a man of enormous personal warmth, as well as great charisma, charm and humour.   The fundamental judicial qualities for which he is remembered were his integrity, rigour, and his deep dislike of institutional wrongdoing.  These became most obvious in his greatest legacy to us all: the Public Inquiry over which he presided over into the death of Stephen Lawrence.  This resulted in what is now known to all as The Macpherson Report, in which he called out, among other things, the institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police.  It is easy, from a 21st Century perspective, to have forgotten, or simply to be unaware of, how fundamentally radical a step it seemed for a judge to criticise our public bodies in this way; and also how surprising (and as a result how telling and forceful) it was that this critique came from a man who had been seen by many as an archetypal establishment figure.

To view the obituary in The Times click here and, for those who did not know him or of him, to view the Wikipedia article on him click here.

The Times obituary has a link to an interview with Hashi Mohamed which describes the importance of the Macpherson Report much more eloquently and effectively than we could.

Bill will be very much missed by all who knew him.


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