Seamless performance of a smooth silk: Patricia Wynn Davies looks at the skills of a much-admired courtroom advocate

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The Independent Online
THE URBANE and successful Alan Moses QC, whose Gray's Inn chambers contains no fewer than 18 silks, once won the unstinting praise of a well-known England cricketer. 'I couldn't have put it more fairly myself,' the cricketer said, referring to Mr Moses, his accuser during an appearance before the Test and County Cricket Board's disciplinary committee.

His unruffled, even winning, performance before the Scott inquiry yesterday and on Monday saw him at his smooth, quick-on- the-feet best, helping to produce more jokes - of the low-key, self- deprecating variety - than during any other hearing. It was a doughty performance, taking a fair share of blame for circumstances not all of his own making.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, defence counsel for the Matrix Churchill director Paul Henderson in the ill-fated trial, said yesterday: 'The lesson of the episode is that even the fairest of prosecutors - and Alan Moses is certainly that - cannot readily appreciate what undisclosed evidence will assist the defence. Only the defence can know that - which is why relevant documents should always be disclosed to them.'

Despite sightings of what one QC called a 'worried and concerned' man in the run-up, the affair has not dimmed his reputation. Alongside prosecuting errant cricketers, he was standing counsel for the Inland Revenue before taking silk in 1990. The only other blip in an otherwise textbook life seems to have been the break-up of his marriage, after producing three children, to the daughter of Sir David Hopkin, the former metropolitan stipendiary magistrate. He married Dinah Casson, an interior designer and daughter of Sir Hugh, the architect, in 1992.

Other blue-chip instructing lawyers include the Foreign Office, and, of course, Customs & Excise. While one leading QC described him as conscientious but 'not outstanding', he is held in considerable esteem by others. Those who know or instruct him say his reputation for attention to detail accounts for the clientele, along with enthusiasm, charm, occasional drollery and an absence of pomposity and aggression.

Beneath that, it is said, is a sometimes volatile and tense personality which tends not to come out in court. One instructing solicitor said: 'He has a marvellous voice and is a genuinely captivating advocate.'

His earnings run into six figures, but a community care case he handled for nothing ranks as a noteworthy and potentially far- reaching success. The ruling - Virginia Bottomley's 'ticking time bomb' - means local councils that have recognised the need for a service are under a legal duty to provide it.

(Photograph omitted)