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Obituary: Sir Robert Le Masurier

Robert Le Masurier was one of the youngest holders of Jersey's highest office, that of Bailiff.

He became Bailiff of Jersey in 1962 just a few months after being appointed Deputy Bailiff, on the untimely death of his predecessor, Cecil Harrison. The post, which is a Crown appointment, demands skill and diplomacy: the holder is not only the civic head of the island's population but also presides over the parliament, the States of Jersey, and over its Royal Court.

Le Masurier was a popular Bailiff, praised for the clarity of his Court judgments. He was known for his sense of humour and his strong love of the sea.

The son of a solicitor, he was born in 1913 and educated at Victoria College, Jersey, and Pembroke College, Oxford. He began his legal career in 1938 as an advocate of the Royal Court, but this was soon interrupted by the Second World War. His wartime naval recollections included an incident that attempted to make use of his local knowledge.

The Naval Intelligence Division planned to land Le Masurier secretly under cover of darkness on Jersey to gain information about the strength of the occupying German forces. The torpedo boat used to bring him to the island was delayed while dropping off men to land in Guernsey, and the impending daylight forced it to return to England with Le Masurier still on board.

He resumed private practice after the war, becoming a Crown officer (Solicitor- General) in 1955. A former colleague at the legal firm of Le Masurier & Giffard, Advocate Peter Giffard, recalls that Le Masurier was "a first- class lawyer". "He was absolutely brilliant. He had a fine legal brain and was very conscientious," says Giffard, emphasising Le Masurier's lack of ostentation.

In Jersey's Royal Court yesterday the Deputy Bailiff, Francis Hamon, paid tribute to Le Masurier. "He made many friends," Hamon said, "and the portrait of him that hangs in this court to mark his retirement in December 1974 captures his delightful sense of humour which always tempered the dignity and justice that he brought to this court."

In his retirement Le Masurier often spoke out on island matters that concerned him, usually through the letters column of the Jersey Evening Post.

Most recently he opposed plans to build an aquarium in a Green Zone area, and criticised a proposal to allow a casino to be established in the island.

Philip Jeune

Robert Hugh Le Masurier, lawyer: born Jersey 29 December 1913; DSC 1942; Solicitor- General, Jersey 1955, Attorney-General 1958, Deputy Bailiff 1962, Bailiff 1962-74; Kt 1966; married 1941 Helen Sheringham (one son, two daughters); died Jersey 30 July 1996.