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

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By Judge John Hack 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.