Obituary: Michael Wheeler

Michael Mortimer Wheeler, lawyer, born 8 January 1915, called to the Bar Gray's Inn 1938, Lincoln's Inn 1946, QC 1961, Bencher of Lincoln's Inn 1967, Treasurer of Lincoln's Inn 1986, married 1939 Sheila Mayou (two daughters), died 7 August 1992.

MICHAEL WHEELER's first greeting to his friends showed immediately his feelings for them: the more personal and direct it was the greater the respect and the more he liked you. The only son of the mercurial archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, he inherited from him much of his iconoclastic irreverence for pomposity and bureaucracy. But as a Deputy High Court Judge for 15 years his judgement and the respect in which he was held totally belied this outwardly superficial attitude.

Michael Wheeler was born in 1915. He was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Rugby, before reading law at Christ Church, Oxford. After a short spell in a solicitors' office, he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1938. A year later Wheeler, who had joined the Territorial Army, helped his father to raise at Enfield the 48th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery. Early recruits included Lord Goodman, with whom Wheeler later had a long and happy professional association at the Bar, and Lord Lloyd. His father seems to have thought that the battery was some kind of independent feudal levy, because he commissioned Wheeler as a second lieutenant, an act which the War Office confirmed.

Wheeler commanded a regiment in Italy in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was mentioned in dispatches. On his return to the Bar in 1946, he was appointed a member of the UK mission to sell Argentine Railways to Argentina to pay for bully beef supplied in the war. On his return he entered into practice in company law in Lincoln's Inn, having joined that Inn in 1946. He continued in practice until he retired from the Bar in 1988. He sat regularly for many years as a respected Deputy High Court Judge. A coronary in 1972, the first of many health problems, blighted his chances of appointment to the Bench.

Wheeler took silk in 1961. He was elected a Bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 1967 and became Treasurer in 1986. In that year the new Bar Council and Inns of Court Council were formed. Wheeler was heavily involved in negotiating the terms and drafting the constitutions, particularly to regulate relations between the new bodies and the Inns.

He was a keen sportsman, playing both golf and cricket for the Bar. His Chambers was one of the first to abolish the rule that a pupil at the Bar paid his master a fee. But when Keighley, who played for Yorkshire, came as a pupil, the fee was a course of lessons at Alf Gover's cricket school. Wheeler's ambition was that the Bar should beat the Barrister's Clerks in the annual match then held at the Oval, an ambition seldom achieved.

He was a loyal member of Chambers throughout his time at the Bar, supported by his wife, Sheila, a successful orthoptist, and was the head of a very happy chambers.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate Start - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders