Remembering Sir Henry Brooke

Z2K's former CEO, Joanna Kennedy, describes the incredible passion, generosity and support we were lucky to receive from Sir Henry Brooke.

Joanna Kennedy, former Chief Executive

I am so sorry to hear that Sir Henry Brooke, retired judge, generous patron and tireless campaigner for legal rights, has passed away. He was an amazing and lovely man.

When he first came across Z2K – hearing our former Chair Jan Luba speak about us at a legal event – he had already helped set up or was on the Board of countless social justice and human rights charities, and yet he still found room for more. Immediately after hearing about the work we do he got in touch to offer his support.

Not only was he an immensely generous donor – which was itself extraordinary considering how many other causes he supported – he also took an active interest and offered practical help wherever he could. He came to sit in on one of our drop-in advice sessions and was deeply impressed both by the depth of need and the skill of our advisers.

As a result of what he saw he invited Z2K to submit evidence to a commission looking into the problems caused by the lack of legal aid. Unlike many of the great and the good involved in legal/pro bono charities he was very keen that the voice of those on the front line be truly heard, instead of it just being a collection of lawyers and civil servants talking amongst themselves as so often happens.

When I first saw him in the Court of Appeal I felt he was a very reasonable judge, but I was also struck by his voice: it seemed so plummy it verged on caricature. It was only when I got to know him that I discovered that, although he could not have been more patrician and privileged, he was extremely conscious of that privilege and determined to redress the balance.

He poured his skills, wealth and connections into tackling the disadvantage suffered by so many at the hands of the welfare rights and legal system. He worked hard to ensure that those in the legal profession recognise their immense privilege, and urged them to give their services to the less fortunate. And on a much greater scale, he was a passionate leader in using the profession’s clout to change the iniquitous aspects of our legal system and legal funding which operate so oppressively and unfairly against the disadvantaged.

And throughout all his tireless and incredibly generous advocacy work, he was always immensely courteous, sweet and funny. He will be very much missed.

Sir Henry Brooke

Published: 5th February, 2018

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