44 members and friends (the largest ever attendance at an Open Meeting) gathered for the Ray Coggan Memorial Lecture. Our Chairman Bill Blades welcomed Mrs. Coggan to the meeting and introduced our “taciturn” speaker His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson, a stalwart supporter of the Forum. Derek reminisced about his career in the law and said that his interest had begun as a Sixth-Former visiting Bow Street Magistrates Court in 1946. He outlined some of the changes which had taken place in his time – the abolition of capital punishment in 1965, the introduction of majority verdicts on juries, the welcome increase of women in the law and the increasing role currently of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Judge strongly defended jury trial despite its imperfections.
During the second half of the talk laughter repeatedly rang round the room as Derek regaled us with a stream of judicial anecdotes which he delivered with impeccable timing. He told us for example about the witness who promised “to tell the truth, the whole truth and anything but the truth”. We shall also remember the Judge and the feather-plucker. It was a vintage performance on a very special morning as the subject was appropriate as Ray Coggan had himself served with distinction as a lay magistrate. Mrs. Coggan greeted Judge Clarkson warmly after the meeting and thanked him for his tribute to Ray.