Obituary: Lord Devlin

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The Independent Online
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)