Letter: Denning's justice

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Many advocates will have memories of Lord Denning ("Denning praise", 26 January). My first sight of him was before his appointment to the High Court when he began to sit as Chairman of Quarter Sessions in Sussex.

I had the task of defending in a drink-drive case, before the advent of the breathalyser. The issue was simply whether my client's ability to drive was impaired by drink.

The case hung on conflicts of evidence between the defendant and the police. At a time when many judges regarded it as their duty to support the police, Denning treated the evidence with complete impartiality, and left it wholly to the jury to decide. They acquitted.

I was sufficiently impressed by this to tell a colleague, whose reply was: "Give him time and he will be like the others!"

Lord Denning has had more time than most. He was never like the others. Perhaps his great achievement is that, slowly and painfully, others have tried to be like him. Long may he live!


Fordingbridge, Hampshire