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'In this excellent book, James Wilson has managed to capture both the man and the judge ...' From the foreword by Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury.
Lord Denning was the most famous English judge of the twentieth century. Arguably, he was the most famous of any century.
His judgments were legendary for both their style and substance. The style was instantly recognisable, with his short sentences and unique method of storytelling. The substance was always less about law and more about justice, as Denning looked for the fairest outcome to every case before him.
Over time, Denning’s views on justice and his manipulation of precedent became increasingly controversial. As society changed around him, he adhered rigidly to the Edwardian morality of his childhood. His report on the Profumo Affair – the most sensational political scandal of post-war Britain – was dismissed by some as an ‘establishment whitewash’. His rulings in trade union disputes earned him many critics, while his dismissal of the appeal of the ‘Birmingham Six’ falsely convicted of a terrorist atrocity became notorious when a gross miscarriage of justice was later uncovered. Yet enough goodwill remained for him to be called after his death ‘the best-known and best-loved judge in the whole of our history’ by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham.
For all his controversies, there is no question that Denning led an extraordinary life. Born into a family of modest means in a small Hampshire town in 1899, he went on to gain two firsts from Oxford and a commission in the First World War, before becoming a successful barrister and serving almost 40 years as a senior judge.
This book looks at that remarkable life story as well as assessing Denning’s legacy, showing how he continues to influence, inspire and occasionally infuriate.