OBITUARY: His Honour Patrick Medd

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The Independent Online
Patrick Medd's biography of Sir Samuel Romilly, the Whig parliamentarian, law reformer and spokesman for the rights and liberties of the people, was published in 1968. Behind Medd's intense personal modesty, the same qualities as Romilly's could be seen in his liberalism and humanity and in his achievements as a writer, advocate of reform, lawyer, judge and as a school governor.

During the 1950s the Inns of Court Conservative and Unionist Society was a vigorous source of reforming ideas. Medd was secretary. In that capacity he was co-author of The Rule of Law (1955) and of Murder (1956). The first of those advocated the need for access to justice by ordinary citizens in disputes with departments of state; this foreshadowed Medd's later career as president of such a tribunal. Murder pressed for reform of the law of homicide and for the abolition of the death penalty. The Giant's Strength, which he wrote in 1958, assessed and questioned the powers of the trade-union movement and its relationship with government.

Medd was born in Abingdon, in Oxfordshire. He was educated at Uppingham School and Selwyn College, Cambridge, following which he trained on the Clyde to be a naval architect (his uncle had been a partner of Sir Edwin Lutyens). The Second World War came and he was commissioned with the South Staffordshire Regiment and subsequently served with the East African Artillery in Burma, reaching the rank of major. He fought in the Burma campaign, when the Japanese were driven back to the River Chindwin.

Returning from the war he joined the Middle Temple, read for the Bar and, following pupillage with Alan Orr, became a member of the chambers of Melford Stevenson QC. There Medd built up a general practice in London and on the Oxford Circuit. In 1969 he was appointed Junior Counsel to the Inland Revenue, succeeding Mr Raymond Phillips. His opinions, provided in beautiful handwriting, were greatly respected, and he represented the Crown in many complex and important appeals. He was always scrupulously fair and took pains to ensure that unrepresented appellants were not unduly disadvantaged. His transparent honesty and integrity gained him the trust and respect of judges, and of his opposing counsel.

Medd's judicial career started in 1964 as Recorder of Abingdon. From 1967 until 1971 he was deputy chairman of Shropshire Quarter Sessions. He then became a Recorder of the Crown Court and was appointed to the Circuit Bench in 1982. Throughout his time as a judge he was known for his courtesy, patience and humanity. A change in the direction of his career came in 1986 when he was appointed a part-time special commissioner to hear Inland Revenue appeals. He succeeded Lord Grantchester in 1988 as President of the VAT Tribunals and, from 1990, when he was appointed Presiding Special Commissioner, he presided over both Tribunals in their stately premises in Bedford Square. This was a sensitive time. The implementation of a civil penalty code following the Keith Report on Enforcement of Revenue Powers produced a dramatic increase in the volume of appeals as did the growing effect of European directives. His decisions on penalties charted a firm but sensible and workable course through provisions which were seen by some to be unduly Draconian.

Medd's recordership of Abingdon led to his appointment to the Board of Governors of Abingdon School, and from 1983 till 1990 he was chairman of the Board. During that period the school prospered and its standing and prestige grew. Medd devoted a great deal of his time and energy to school affairs, displaying his own interest in the quality of the education and the opportunities it offered. His sense of balance and his support of the school's development programme earned him the trust and respect of headmaster and staff alike. When he retired as chairman of the Board he took over the chairmanship of the appeal committee.

Patrick Medd was a passionate gardener. When at home he was always to be found, panama-hatted, working on a magnificent garden. The last of those was in Clifton Hampden, in Oxfordshire, where the lower terraces had been laid out by Gertrude Jekyll. His greatest joy was opening his garden to the public in aid of charity.

Stephen Oliver

Patrick William Medd, lawyer: born 26 May 1919; called to the Bar, Middle Temple 1947, Bencher 1969; OBE 1962; Recorder of Abingdon 1964-71, Honorary Recorder 1972-95; member, General Council of the Bar 1965-67; Deputy Chairman, Shropshire Quarter Sessions 1967-71; Junior Counsel to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue 1968-73; a Recorder of the Crown Court 1972-81; QC 1973; chairman, Board of Referees and Finance Act 1960 Tribunal 1978-91; a circuit judge 1981-92; Co-President, National Reference Tribunal for the Coalmining Industry 1985-95; Special Commissioner of Income Tax 1986-92, Presiding Special Commissioner 1990- 92; President, VAT Tribunals 1988-92; married 1945 Jeananne Spence Powell (three daughters; marriage dissolved), 1971 Elizabeth Spinks D'Albuquerque; died 15 October 1995.