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The Master of the Rolls’ leaving speech was really cute

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The bit about his wife :’(

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Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson gave his farewell speech yesterday, and it was very touching.

The country’s most senior civil judge quit the prestigious position — once held by Lord Denning — in February, and took the opportunity this week to reflect on his four years in office.

The soon to be 73-year-old told a packed out Court of Appeal that he is “very emotional” about leaving his post, and dedicated the first part of his valedictory speech to his deceased parents and grandparents:

I wonder what my father’s parents would have made of today. They came from Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century. They were both 19 years of age. They had had little education and little money. They were hoping to go to the US, but could not afford to get any further than Leeds.

Dyson, who was called to the bar in 1968, continued:

And my mother came from Bulgaria in 1939 at a time when most people in this country had probably not even heard of the place. Her mother spent six months in Bergen Belsen in 1944. Something that she could hardly ever bring herself to talk about. I wonder what she would have made of today too. I keenly regret that my parents are not here today. Even at my age, I would have liked to bring them my achievements for their approval.

Having reflected on his immigrant background, Dyson then spoke candidly about his desire for tolerance to overcome “xenophobia and dangerous forces of hate that have been unleashed in some quarters” post-referendum. He commented:

I feel a deep gratitude to this tolerant country for allowing my forebears to settle here and giving me and my family the opportunity to flourish here. I fervently hope that the events of recent weeks have not put that tolerance at risk.

The Oxford educated QC went on to thank a number of key figures who have helped him throughout his time in judicial office, but left his biggest thanks to the very end. Rounding off his — already very personal — speech, Dyson said:

I have made many decisions in my life, but far and away the best and most important was to ask Jackie to marry me all those years ago. I knew she was the girl for me almost immediately and we were engaged within a few weeks. My professional life has been very exciting and stimulating. But I have been happiest when in her company, just doing the simplest of things.

He added:

I do not intend to retire to cultivate my garden. I plan to be quite busy. But I do hope to be able to spend more time with her.

*wipes tear from eye*

A number of other key judicial figures also took the opportunity to speak at yesterday’s event, showering Dyson with praise. The Lord Chief Justice described his colleague as outstanding, while Lord Pannick QC called him a man of integrity and independence.

Sir Terence Etherton will replace Lord Dyson as Master of the Rolls, the first openly gay judge to hold this position. His appointment will take effect from 3 October.

Read the full speech here: