Obituary: Bernard Simons

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The Independent Online
UNEXPECTEDLY, personal memories of Bernard Simons, of which I have so many, whether we were moved to tears together by Don Carlos or Judy Garland, or moved to heaven by glorious food and wines enjoyed together, rather recede to the background when penning a sketch of his richest attributes, writes Stephen Solley. What comes to the fore are his three special gifts of integrity, intellect and humour. Bernard had them in unusual abundance.

Integrity. Whilst he was instructed on the one hand by several of the 'Brighton Bombers', the same month brought instructions from an errant Chief Constable who had no hesitation about going to Bernard when trouble loomed. His fearless approach to any case never diminished one jot from his early years as a Hackney practitioner to his last years in fashionable Soho.

Intellect. Few lawyers had his penetrating mind, so quick, that a single read of a huge and complicated case was enough. Mastery of a range of work unequalled amongst practitioners, a morning in the magistrates' court on a range of smaller crime. Afternoon, in the High Court on his feet in a libel case. Evening, a consultation with a QC on the most complex of commercial problems. Dinner, discussing contractual difficulties with an actor. Then, if time allowed, a visit to the theatre where a playwright client had a first night. Next day embroiled in a massive commercial fraud, and so it went on.

Humour. Who else could have collapsed into giggles with the august Lord Hutchinson of Lullington QC when they had passed an extraordinary hour, in the middle of the night and at a secret location, taking statements from two dubious and rather theatrical Mexican secret agents, potentially vital witnesses in the drugs trial of Howard Marks?

His attributes added up to that rarest of gifts, wisdom. That is why people, grand or vulnerable, went to him for advice. So often they ended up with friendship too. Sadly his death has taken away the best possible candidate for the first solicitor High Court Judge. Wouldn't it have been something for a founder of Release to have got there first?

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