Another birthday: 81 not out

Henry 81st Birthday cake


I have been very touched by the number of people, known and unknown, who have tweeted birthday wishes to me today. .And one of them has even gone so far as to bake me a virtual birthday cake: see the picture above.

It has been an interesting year, although how long I will continue to pass the medical MOT test for old crocks remains to be seen.  I now go to funerals and thanksgiving services almost as often as I used to go to my friends’ weddings all those years ago.

From time to time I have been receiving very nice messages from complete strangers.  This, the other day:

And this, a few weeks earlier:

It is a rare sight to see a former Lord Justice of Appeal engage with the general public through these fora, but a very welcome sight. I am particularly glad to see your continued writing on Legal Aid and Access to Justice, as for example your most recent entry on the Hackney Community Law Centre’s housing cases (which triggered this message), as a topic very close to my own heart.
As someone who is currently working for a human rights / international criminal justice organization but also undertaking the GDL by distance learning with a view to, hopefully, a future career at the Bar in public law and human rights (or “social justice”, broadly defined), your blog has provided not only much inspiration to me but also very useful insights into the state of the justice system in the UK.
I had been an undergraduate student of history and politics in England myself and had gotten a sense of the inequalities and problems prevailing e.g. while volunteering at the Oxford Food Bank, but have been out of the country for the last 5 years and had thus not witnessed the impact of some of the more recent changes myself. Your testimony to the much needed work of organizations such as the Hackney law centre, but also the Public Law Project, is impressive and I very much hope to be able to contribute to the work of these organizations once back in the UK next year and once legally qualified.
Thank you very much indeed for taking the time to write these blog contributions, I believe they are quite essential to the public understanding of the justice system.

And this, from an unexpected quarter:

You might like to tell Sir Henry that I circulated the link to his blogpost about the cost of withdrawal from the EU to the 180+ strong Abergavenny Women’s network saying that it explained stuff I had no idea about in a way I just about understood and that they might be interested too.

Comments back included:

’Very illuminating and readable’

‘Thanks for sharing, Clare. I am a politics teacher and VERY interested.’

‘Thank you so much for passing this on. It makes interesting but worrying reading!’

‘Thank you very much for this – it’s a very clear and helpful explanation of the situation, though not particularly cheering!’

‘Clare, where did you find this treasure of a judge! It’s fascinating, this stuff that he is producing. I think I need to read it all at least another three or four times.’

Nobody called me a treasure of a judge during those far-off days on the Bench.  Or if they thought it, they didn’t tell me.

So I will soldier on.  I am re-organising some of the material on the site.  I have opened  a new menu item called PIPs which contains my writings abut PIPs, and a new menu item called “judgments” containing memorable first lines (and some other excerpts) from judgments past and present.  And I will continue this editing process.

In addition to the cake I am posting a recent photograph taken at the end of the recent 24-hour Online Court Hackathon. It shows Professor Richard Susskind with both me and my predecessor as President of the Society of Computers and Law, Sir Brian Neill (94 next month).

A little bit of what we used to write about and dream about 30 years ago is now happening in our courts.  The sinners are at long last repenting, but I suppose we will never receive any apology from HM Treasury for all those wasted years when they refused our courts the investment they so very badly and obviously needed. [I will reorder my writings on IT and the Law next]

Henry & Brian at the Hackathon

7 thoughts on “Another birthday: 81 not out

  1. Laura Hoyano

    A very happy birthday Sir Henry! Your posts remind me to take pride in my professions as barrister and law academic trying to inspire young people to dedicate themselves to access to justice.


  2. Happy Birthday, Sir Henry! I only discovered your blog very recently but it’s been a joy to read your incisive posts during this appalling time in our country’s history so I thank you. I’m a young crock at just turned 60 but a true crock in terms of the poor health I enjoy! I keep going and try to keep laughing. Lon may you continue so to do!


  3. Dear Sir Henry

    Firstly please accept my apologies if this is the incorrect form of address for a retired senior appeals court judge, or is too informal.

    Secondly can I wish you a very happy 81st birthday. I hope that you had a fantastic day and had plenty of activities planned. Most importantly however I hope whatever you did you enjoyed yourself thoroughly. My stepfather also continues to celebrate a long life this year, being 84 and also not out!

    May I take this opportunity to thank you for the continued vital information and musings you have shared in your blog. It is both interesting and useful and in many cases thoroughly entertaining. It is so rare that a retired senior Judge engages with people through this media. I personally think you have been a vital source of help and information on People’s rights, the closure of so many local law centres, and the devastating effect the government cuts are having on access to justice (to list but a few).

    I truly believe that the changes to legal aid and the cuts to funding are an area where the general public do not truly understand what has happened and is still happening. I have, unfortunately, seen first hand the effect of these cuts: a former acquaintance who suffers from ASD having to fight for custody of his children in a very complex case on his own as he was turned down for legal aid.

    Again thank you and many happy returns.

    From Neil

    Sent by Neil Damion Barton Senior Lecturer in Physics (retired) From Microsoft Office Outlook for IOS 11 _____________________________


  4. Clare Lea-Carnell

    Dear Sir Henry,

    I would like to take this opportunity to wish you (belatedly) a very Happy 81st Birthday.
    I discovered your blog very recently and want to say just how much I enjoy your musings and information. I was particularly moved by the compassion and wisdom you demonstrate. Your advice has been invaluable and enabled me to consider my difficulties in a very different way, to marshal my thoughts and engage with the challenge productively, using the law.
    I hope you had a wonderful birthday, and I look forward to reading many more of your musings.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s