Obituary: Lord Devlin

AS I READ James Morton's obituary of Lord Devlin and the other splendid tributes, writes Janet Adam Smith, my mind went back from the silver-haired champion of justice to the red-headed schoolboy and undergraduate whom I knew in Aberdeen, where we both grew up.

Through his mother he was a member of the extensive Crombie clan: his book on Woodrow Wilson is dedicated to the memory of older cousins killed in the 1914-18 war. The loss of that generation, he said, had speeded the progress of his - as if his rise in the law had been due to sad accident rather than to his own distinction.

In school holidays and university vacations, Aberdeen was a lively place for the young, with dances, badminton tournaments, tennis parties, where I would meet Patrick and his sister Joan and brother Christopher. Patrick was a fair dancer (though I preferred a kilted partner for the reels), a steady tennis player, and always a congenial companion. In our university days, we played very bad golf as we trudged round the links at Balgownie setting the world to rights. But there could be no such discussions on the day Patrick drove me over the high Cairn-o- Mount pass between Kincardine and Deeside in his uncle George Crombie's stately motor (this was the uncle who financed him at Cambridge). Patrick had been taught by his uncle's chauffeur (no driving tests then) and I think that this was the first trip on his own. Determined and resolute, grimly gripping the wheel, he did get us safely down the bends and the gradients of 1 in 5.

When we were both in London, he beginning at the Bar, I at the Listener, we often met for evenings of French films and cheap dinners in Soho, Saturday walks in the Chilterns, and strenuous squash. When once, for some reason I've now forgotten, I had to write something about the jury system in the Listener, all I had to do was take Patrick out to lunch and scribble down his words.

At West Wick in later years I found him the same delightful companion as in Aberdeen days - humorous, philosophical, unpompous, serene even when his hearing-aid misbehaved. He was happy in his garden, his books and his wine - above all happy in his life with Madeleine and his family: '21 grandchildren and I believe about 10 great-grandchildren', he wrote me only two months ago.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen