Obituary: His Honour Thomas Kellock

Thomas Oslaf Kellock, lawyer, born 4 July 1923, QC 1965, Chairman Anti-Apartheid Movement 1963-65, Legal Director Commonwealth Secretariat 1969-72, Bencher Inner Temple 1973, a Recorder of the Crown Court 1974-76, Circuit Judge Nottingham 1976-91, Deputy Senior Judge Sovereign Bases Cyprus 1983- 93, Chairman Liberal International (British Section) 1991, married 1967 Jane Symonds, died London 12 January 1993.

THOMAS KELLOCK'S successful career at the bar and later on the bench was the background to a lively and effective presence in Commonwealth and African affairs. Called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1949, when the rush to colonial independence was on, Tom Kellock was already a member of the Bars of what are now Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone, often representing political leaders in legal battles with the Crown in the dying days of Empire. Many became his friends as did the opposing counsel or juniors on the spot, who were sometimes - like Charles Njonjo, from Kenya, or the late Herbert Chitepo, at the time the only black barrister in Southern Rhodesia - to be found sharing his somewhat Spartan bachelor quarters in London, in the 1960s. He was alive to the growing horrors of Verwoerd's South Africa at an early stage, courageously visiting the country after the Rivonia arrests in 1963, when chairman of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in its greatest and most broadly based days.

While a member of Dingle Foot's chambers he continued to work abroad in Fiji, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Sarawak, occasionally briefed by Amnesty or Justice. From 1966 to 1972 he ran the legal division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, where his genial, larger-than-life personality and transparent genuineness did much to counter disappointment at the coldness of the UK to many of her 40-odd fellow member states.

He was an ideal collaborator thereafter with the Nobel peace prizewinner Sean MacBride, then UN Commissioner for Namibia, in helping to draft in 1974 UN Decree No 1, aimed at halting the export of Namibian resources outside UN sanction, in which Rio Tinto Zinc was the most prominent British performer. Yet he was a quintessential Englishman of his generation, a product of Rugby, Clare College, Cambridge, and the wartime navy, fond of good stories, good company, food and wine. He was also utterly without racial bias, and blazingly honest to the point of quite unlawyerlike outspokenness: whether, in the 1960s, blasting the simplistic socialism of a black South African exile with the statement that if he wanted British support he had best avoid the working class as they were the biggest racists of the lot, or, in the 1990s, warning the head of Namibia's new university that, as often before, the fine words of the university's charter were meaningless until put to the test in the conflicts with both government and students that were sure to come. As a committed Liberal reformer, he could get away with saying the unsayable.

His wonderfully happy married life with Jane Symonds, the mainstay of the Rev Michael Scott's Africa Bureau in the 1960s, was largely spent in the less frenzied atmosphere of Nottingham where from 1976 he served as a Circuit Judge, and Jane as a magistrate, until his partial retirement in 1991. He took up Liberal affairs again and had many plans before him, as chairman of the British section of Liberal International, not least to help promote a regeneration of Liberalism in South Africa.

(Photograph omitted)

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 People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn