Pinochet Ruling: The Five Law Lords

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The Independent Online
Lord Slynn of Hadley

Chairman of the panel. Considered one of three liberal judges on the bench, he disappointed the anti-Pinochet campaigners by dismissing the appeal. A 68-year-old bon vivant, he is a member of the Garrick, Beefsteak and Athenaeum clubs. Educated at Sandbach School, Goldsmiths' College and Trinity College, Cambridge, he was called to the Bar in 1956. He became Advocate-General at the European Court of Human Justice, where he remained for 11 years. Known as a Europhile, his speciality is in complex European and commercial cases.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick

The oldest law lord at 69 and the only conservative on the panel. An Old Etonian, he also went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he ran the mile for the University. He is chairman of the Security Commission, the watchdog responsible for investigating complaints concerned with espionage and breaches of security. He is also overseeing the BSE inquiry. He has a relatively low profile, with only six lead judgments in the past two years. An opera-lover and former chairman of the Glyndebourne Arts Trust, he is regarded by friends as "popular and witty". He dismissed the appeal.

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead

Middle-of-the-road politically, he cast the crucial vote which swayed the panel in favour of appeal. Educated at Birkenhead School and Liverpool University, he has a reputation for taking a highly intellectual approach, leading to criticism that he is "dry and reserved". He rose from the Chancery Bar to become a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1986. He is chairman of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct. Sits with Lord Hoffmann on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Another member of the Athenaeum, his interests include walking and history.

Lord Steyn

One of the two South African judges, he settled in Britain in 1973. As Johan Steyn QC, he was seen as an extremely successful lawyer. Progressive and outspoken, he recently attacked plans to remove the right of judges to decide which lawyers may appear before them. Now aged 66, he was educated in Cape Town and was a Rhodes Scholar, attending University College, Oxford. Last year, he helped to quash a decision by the former home secretary Michael Howard to impose a minimum sentence on the boys who killed James Bulger in 1993. Backed the appeal.

Lord Hoffmann

Another South African, who, like Lord Steyn, grew up in Cape Town but settled in Britain after becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he attended Queen's College. The son of a solicitor, he is known as a maverick and a liberal. Flamboyant and sociable, he was described by Legal Business magazine as "the most dominant personality in the Lords by a mile". Often able to carry other lords with him through the strength of his argument, his outgoing personality makes him popular with journalists, and he has a strong public image. Backed the appeal.