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Lord Birkett fervently believed that the first quality of an advocate is that he must be a man of character and integrity. That he himself possessed this quality in an out¬standing degree at the English Bar may explain why he became so distinguished and, at the same time, so popular a member of the legal profession.
The son of a moderately prosperous Lan¬cashire draper of Liberal politics, Norman Birkett served as an apprentice behind the counter of his father's shop in Ulverston. A youthful success as a Methodist lay preacher encouraged paternal hopes that he would enter the Ministry.
With this end in view he went up to Cambridge where he studied theology. But his success as a speaker at the Union, of which he became President, persuaded him that he had no vocation for religion and he changed over to law. Although he was thirty years old before he started to practise in Birmingham, Birkett's professional progress was excep¬tionally rapid. A few years later he moved to London and shortly afterwards he was appointed King's Counsel.
A society scandal known as the Dennistoun case, in which he took the place of Sir Edward Marshall Hall who suddenly became ill, gave Birkett his big chance. His eloquence in this case immediately put him in the front line of fashionable leading counsel. For the next fifteen years, during which period his income averaged £30,000 annually, he was much in demand, his cases including the murder trials of Mrs. Crouch, Mrs. Pace, Arthur Rouse, Mrs. Hearn, Tony Mancini and Dr. Ruxton. Other sensational criminal cases in which he appeared as counsel were those of Jackson Palmer, Clarence Hatry, Maundey Gregory and the Mayfair Playboys, while in civil actions he had many notable clients such as Lord Gladstone, Lady Mountbatten and Mrs Simpson.
...about the author Harford Montgomery Hyde was born on 14 August 1907 in Belfast. He was educated at Sedbergh School; Queen's University, Belfast (where he gained a first class History degree); then at Magdalen College Oxford (where he gained a second class law degree). He was called to the bar in 1934. From 1935-9 Hyde was librarian and Private Secretary to the 7th Marquess of Londonderry. In 1939 he married Dorothy Mabel Brayshaw Crofts (divorced 1952).
During World War II, Hyde held several positions. He served as an Assistant Censor in Gibraltar (1940) and was commissioned in the intelligence corps and engaged in counter-espionage work in the United States under Sir William Stephenson, Director of British Security Co-ordination in the Western Hemisphere (whose life Hyde published as The Quiet Canadian in 1962). He was also Military Liaison and Security Officer, Bermuda (1940-41); Assistant Passport Control Officer, New York (1941-2); with British Army Staff, USA (1942-4); attached to the Supreme HQ Allied Expeditionary Force (1944) and then to the Allied Commission for Austria (1944-5).
Hyde was the Assistant Editor of the Law Reports (1946-7), then Legal Adviser to the British Lion Film Corporation Ltd (1947-9). From 1950-59 he was a Unionist MP for East Belfast and was the UK Delegate to the Council of Europe Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg (1952-5). From 1958-61 Hyde was an Honorary Colonel of the Intelligence Corps (Territorial Army), Northern Ireland. After losing his parliamentary seat, Hyde was Professor of History and Political Science at the University of the Punjab in Lahore (1959-61).
In 1955 Hyde married his second wife Mary Eleanor Fischer. The marriage was dissolved in 1966 and he married Rosalind Roberts Dimond. He died on August 10 1989..