Obituary: Jack Smith-Hughes

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The Independent Online
THE OBITUARY of Jack Smith-Hughes (by Antony Beevor, 17 March) rightly concentrated on his wartime exploits in Crete and the Middle East. Much later, the British Virgin Islands (population 12,000) were both to benefit and to suffer from his genial demolition of humbug, prejudice and parochialism, writes Kenneth Bain.

Smith-Hughes went to a Tortola law firm from Southport in 1971. A year later he formed his own practice; and gradually became a sort of legal and judicial spare-part for the Government. He served at various times as a magistrate and coroner; and acted for two periods in the 1980s as Attorney-Genreal. An eccentric individualist, both incisive and self-deprecatory, he was perhaps too wayward to suffer for long the chronic incompetence he perceived within local officialdom. 'I'll do you a short stint - but that's all,' he would say when yet another staffing crisis arose.

His huge frame, resplendent white beard and great laugh meant that he could never be disregarded, whether he was on the bench or perspiring profusely as he walked in the heat of the Caribbean sun. He was an advocate and raconteur of power and persuasiveness - and a regular children's party Father Christmas.

Jack Smith-Hughes was buried at sea, within sight of his modest waterfront office in Road Town.