Obituary: Sir Michael Eastham

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The Independent Online
IN THE ADDRESS he gave at Michael Eastham's memorial service on 10 March, Sir Stephen Brown, President of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice, said, 'This Division requires special qualities.' That Eastham had those 'special qualities' is unquestionable but what I would particularly like to underline about him were his compassion and devotion to his office, writes Julia M. Stanczyk (further to the obituary by Jeremy Gompertz, 13 March).

Eastham was admitted to hospital on Friday 26 February and, against medical advice, discharged himself the following Monday for the sole purpose of hearing a long-running and most unhappy child dispute which he had heard on a number of occasions previously. He fell outside court and sustained a ghastly eye injury which must have caused him enormous discomfort. That and his serious illness notwithstanding, he gathered all of his strength to deal with the dispute in his normal, attentive and thorough way for the sake of the child involved. He was able to make orders for the benefit of the child before being called back to hospital where he died two days later.

At a time when the judiciary seems constantly to be the focus of criticism, Eastham's dedication and courage, which gained him the lifelong admiration and thanks of the father in that dispute, should not go unremarked.