A frank and witty memoir of life at the Bar and on the Bench, from former High Court Judge The Hon. Sir Harry Ognall.
For many years, Harry Ognall enjoyed a formidable reputation as an advocate at the criminal Bar. As counsel, and later as judge, he was involved in numerous high-profile trials, both in Britain and abroad.
Among many cases as a QC, he prosecuted Peter Sutcliffe, the so-called `Yorkshire Ripper'. He successfully defended six officers of the Air Force of Zimbabwe at their trial in Harare, where they faced a charge of treasonable sabotage.
As a judge, he presided over the trial of Colin Stagg (the alleged `Wimbledon Common murderer'), the trial arising from the Lyme Bay canoe tragedy and the trial for the first time in the United Kingdom of a doctor's alleged involvement in euthanasia.
Thoughtful and provocative, Sir Harry has advice for the aspiring young advocate, and invests this penetrating memoir with warmth, humour and understanding. His frank portrait of a lifetime in the criminal law offers unique perspectives on some of the most notorious cases of the twentieth century, as well as fascinating insights into a colourful professional life and the burdens and responsibilities that come with the privilege of high judicial office.
Sir Harry has his roots in the North country. He was educated at Leeds Grammar School and thence to Oxford University, and finally completed his student days with a scholarship to the University of Virginia School of Law, USA. Called to the Bar in 1958, he spent much of his professional life on the North-Eastern Circuit, with chambers in Leeds. Latterly, as a QC, his work from both Leeds and London chambers took him further afield, including substantial criminal trials in the Far East and Central Africa. After retirement, he initially occupied himself with charitable work, duties as a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and as an after-dinner speaker, as well as too much time in fruitless endeavour on the golf course. Nowadays, he would tell you that his life is more akin to the definition of poetry - one of emotion recollected in tranquillity. Sir Harry is married, with five children and eight grandchildren. He and his wife live on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.