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Ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Kerr dies aged 72

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He retired from the bench two months ago

Lord Kerr (Credit: Supreme Court)

Former Supreme Court judge Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore has died aged 72, it has been announced.

Brian Kerr retired from the country’s highest court only two months ago. He had served in the Supreme Court since its inception in 2009 and at the time of his retirement, he was the last of the original members of the top bench.

Supreme Court president Lord Reed paid tribute to his former bench-mate. In a statement today, Reed said: “Justices and staff alike are shocked by the news, and we offer our deepest sympathy to Lady Kerr, her children and their families. They are all in our thoughts at this time, and we send them our condolences.”

Kerr had a distinguished career as a barrister, judge, and later, as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

He was called to the bar in 1970 and took silk in 1983. He was appointed as a High Court judge ten years later.

Kerr rose to become Lord Chief Justice — the most senior judge in Northern Ireland — and served in the post for five years, from 2004 to 2009. He served as a Justice of the Supreme Court for 11 years, retiring on 30 September.

Reed continued:

“Through his judgments and during hearings, Brian demonstrated his strong and instinctive sense of justice, and his thoughtful and principled approach to resolving legal problems. He will never know the full extent of the impact which his considerate, good-humoured and encouraging nature had on the court, the staff of the court, and his judicial colleagues.”

A number of notable legal figures paid tribute to Kerr. Joshua Rozenburg said “[Kerr’s] judgment in the Patrick Finucane case was much admired and he was one of the most progressive members of Lady Hale’s court”. He added that the picture used above by the Supreme Court doesn’t do Kerr justice, “it misses the twinkle in his eye”.

In memory of Kerr, the Supreme Court flag has been lowered to half-mast today and tomorrow.

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