Lord Silsoe

Leading counsel in public inquiries


David Malcolm Trustram Eve, barrister: born London 2 May 1930; called to the Bar, Inner Temple 1955, Bar Auditor 1965-70; QC 1972; succeeded 1976 as second Baron Silsoe; married 1963 Bridget Hart-Davis (one son, one daughter); died Reading 31 December 2005.

From the Windscale inquiry into the controversial Thorp reprocessing plant in 1977 to the Heathrow Fifth Terminal Inquiry in 1995-99, Lord Silsoe QC was renowned as an outstanding leading counsel for the promoters in major development inquiries - particularly those into airports and nuclear power projects.

Such inquiries, exploring in detail the wide range of topics relevant to the proposal, became of greater and greater length. Windscale had 100 hearing days. The Heathrow Fifth Terminal Inquiry, probably the last inquiry of this type that is likely to be held, lasted 525 days. Between these two, Silsoe had appeared for the promoters in a number of other such inquiries, including those into the Fourth Terminal at Heathrow and the North Terminal at Gatwick and the proposed nuclear power stations Sizewell B and Hinkley Point C.

Of great intellectual capacity and with unflagging powers of concentration, Silsoe was able to absorb technical detail and marshal it without ever losing perspective. His mastery of the subject matter was combined with a style of advocacy - fair, courteous, meticulously prepared - that made him formidable.

Because of his modest manner, many witnesses and advocates at first seriously underestimated him, but they always revised their assessments eventually (although sometimes only when it was too late). He was not the advocate for clients who wanted blood on the carpet, but, as the Central Electricity Generating Board were the first to discover when he was a junior in the 1960s, he was ideal for mighty organisations with projects that aroused passionate opposition.

David Silsoe was born in 1930, the elder twin son of Malcolm Trustram Eve QC (Chairman of the War Damage Commission and the Central Land Board and later First Church Estates Commissioner), who was created in 1943 a baronet and in 1963 the first Baron Silsoe.

After Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford, he was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1955 and joined his father's old chambers at 2 Mitre Court Buildings at a time when their traditional local government and parliamentary work was being superseded by the growth in planning. Bespectacled and wiry, he was in his younger days an excellent skier and he got fit for each holiday by hopping upstairs, two at a time, to his room on the third floor of chambers, overtaking bemused clients on the way. He took silk in 1972 with a practice that consisted mainly of planning work in addition to rating and compensation cases in the Lands Tribunal.

There is a "team" in any public inquiry - counsel, solicitors, the experts and their assistants - and in the major public inquiries the promoter's team was expanded to include all the administrative staff needed to sustain the operation. Accommodated in the same hotel, this team became his weekday family, or, perhaps more accurately, his house at school. To many he gave nicknames and then referred to them only by these.

In the evenings he worked in the communal office-cum-workroom at the hotel rather than in his own room, his intense concentration punctuated frequently with the banter and laughter that were always a part of him. This was his Wykehamist mugging hall, the house study room. He was accessible to all. In the early hours of the morning cleaning staff would make a point of visiting him in order to be cheered up for the day. (On one occasion late one evening, when preparing an important cross-examination for the next day, he spent half an hour counselling the night caretaker on the psychological problems of his dog.)

Opinions and notes were written on the reverse side of used pieces of paper. The looping schoolboy hand covered every square millimetre of the page. There were no margins and there was no space for corrections - but corrections were never needed, even the most complex matters being expressed first time in English of unaffected clarity and correctness. He spurned the use of a calculator, and pages could be covered with a single long division sum to establish a particular statistical conclusion.

During a major inquiry he would work unceasingly (except at weekends, which he reserved for his family), in any location and in any position - cross-legged on the floor surrounded by mountains of paper, or screwed up in the back of a car, trying to focus on a document in the headlights of the car behind. Away from work, singing succeeded skiing as his main delight, both with local choirs and for over 30 years in the church at Peppard, near Henley, to which he rendered selfless service.

A man of extreme modesty, David Silsoe had a natural affection for the self-effacing, the lowly and the disadvantaged, and this was matched by a distaste for all that seemed pompous, pretentious, bullying and grand. He hated formal occasions. More significantly, he came to feel less and less at ease in the world of courts and judges and benchers. Due to the influence of his father, who was so unlike him in this respect, he became Bar Auditor of the Inner Temple and, through this, a bencher before he was 40. But the development of his practice in the field of major inquiries led him, to the regret of many, to distance himself from the courts and the inn also.

Had he not done so, he could have become an outstanding appellate judge. That, however, would have been at the expense of the work that he relished and the very substantial force for good, both in the public arena and at a personal level, that he became.

George Bartlett

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink