University of Law’s new boss is a closet punk rocker

By on

Exclusive: Chief executive by day, pogoing headbanger by night


Europe’s biggest law school has been taken over by an ageing punk rocker, who plays in a band with a combined tally of more than 180 years, Legal Cheek can exclusively reveal.

David Johnston (pictured centre) — who shot into the top executive slot at the University of Law last week when John Latham suddenly decided he had better things to do — is the lead singer of Durham-based “punk tribute” band Mid-life Crisis.

So while by day Johnston — a former managing director of Stansted and Edinburgh airports and procurement director for the BAA group — oversees the potential career prospects of England’s next generation of legal stars, by night he belts out covers of songs from The Damned and other punk heroes.

Indeed, wannabe solicitors and barristers need not go any further than Legal Cheek to check out Johnston’s rough-edged style. This YouTube clip of “New Rose” — the Damned’s first single from 1976 — provides a pretty good feeling of Johnston’s raw stage moves and vocal prowess.

Just in case readers struggled with interpreting those lyrics — and bizarrely don’t know them by heart — “New Rose” kicks off with:

I got a feeling inside of me. It’s kind of strange like a stormy sea. I don’t know why, I don’t know why I guess these things have got to be.

To be fair, that probably sums up the feeling of many a student as they sit through yet another interminable land law lecture at any of ULaw’s branches.

Sadly, however, students might have to satisfy themselves with YouTube clips only. The Facebook page of Mid-Life Crisis ominously hints that the band retired its safety pins earlier this year, owing to several of the members clocking up their half-century birthdays.


Bearing in mind that the godfather of Punk, The Clash’s Joe Strummer, sadly pegged out from a heart attack just after celebrating his 50th, that’s probably not such a bad idea.

Legal Cheek asked Johnston for an update on the band — and for a list of his top-five influences.

Unfortunately, the punk dynamo declined to comment directly; however, a university spokeswoman confirmed that Johnston “enjoys performing with his band where he is able to raise money for a number of charities including Parkinson’s UK, a cause he feels particularly close to having lost his father to this disease recently.”

The spokeswoman added:

He does, however, have no plans to entertain the troops at ULaw despite being given an open invitation.



Almost intuitive

Norwegian Anarchy still going strong 😉



Not convinced this should be classed as “EXCLUSIVE” news.



This is the best Legal Cheek can come up with



Very cool that he’s in a punk band very uncool of Legal Cheek to try and get a cheap laugh out of it.


Legal Beak

You’re the drummer I take it?



Legal Cheek is cheap and run by kids. No loyality. The Founder of Legal Cheek studied at UoL however he always bad mouths them.



I wonder if he would be interested in politics? He could make a great Prime Minister.



Global social media seems like a rather large ‘closet’, is your article meant to be amusing, informative or a condemnation? I’m afraid you have failed on all counts.



As usual Legal Cheek fail to produce funny & intelligent humour. Please remind me of the purpose of their existence?



What he does in his personal time is his own business. What a shame that Legal Cheek uses this an opportunity for a sly dig. Even including the part where he raises money for a number of charities including Parkinson’s UK, having lost his father to the disease, the whole article just comes off as a cheap shot.



Agree with above. He’s a great bloke and knows his stuff.


Not Amused

Right. I avoided commenting because it was just a fluff piece. But let’s be very clear about it – the man just agreed to run a morally indefensible organisation that squeezes profit out of the dreams and ambitions of children. He is a long way from beatification.



Not Amused – he doesn’t just run it, he’s the architect of how to squeeze as much out of the place as possible and has been for a while. Which kind of makes the faux punk thing a bit sad.



“Exaggeration is a blood relation to falsehood and nearly as blamable”



What an inane and ‘Indefensible’ comment…… No student is forced to accept a place at any university as far as I’m still aware and the leadership is also irrelevant to that. It’s called democracy.



Hardly children. Anyone considering a career as a lawyer seriously will (A) have discovered that the University of Law is one of if not THE leading provider of professional legal education in the world and (B) will have encountered the plethora of information and statistics available to demonstrate how difficult and competitive that career path is. If they still choose to go down that route then that is down to them. Providing the education and training required to both the profession and its regulators to a high standard for those who wish to try, and delivering a 97-98% employability record whilst scoring highly in the national student survey is hardly morally indefensible. Do I smell the odour of a bitter, failed lawyer perhaps?



What a pathetic piece of “news”. Is there really nothing else for you to write about then this? What’s next, Carl Lygo’s secret coin collection?



It will be some form of social media bullying as they enjoy hiding behind this site to be bitchy and two faced.



Bet you didn’t know that Sid Vicious was a closet lawyer, yeah, check out his submissions in the famous House of Lords (as it then was) case of Factertame (iv) (1977) HL 1256 – blinding.


Comments are closed.