On 13th April 2020, John Lee, a much loved former member of Chambers, passed away
After studying history at Christ’s College, Cambridge, and completing National Service in Egypt, John joined the colonial service in 1951, and was based in (what is now) Ghana.
There, he developed a love for Africa that would never leave him, and found he enjoyed arbitrating disputes at local level. Back in England, he worked as a lawyer for the BBC before being called to the Bar in 1960.
John combined his criminal law practice with politics. Having first contested the parliamentary constituency of Reading at the 1964 general election without success, he went on to defeat the Conservative incumbent in the 1966 election. He served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Reading until his defeat at the 1970 election. He was subsequently MP for Birmingham Handsworth from February 1974 until he stood down at the 1979 election.
From 1979, John returned to full-time practice at the Bar. In many ways the archetypal barrister, he was the ‘go-to’ choice of counsel for many solicitors, and had an enviable acquittal rate representing clients with seemingly implausible defences.
John remained a much loved Member of Chambers until the turn of the century: unfailingly polite to junior members, always ready to laugh at the ridiculous. His geniality, patience, and charm were a throwback to a bygone age, and a less ‘commercial’ era at the Bar.
He is remembered with huge affection by many of his former colleagues at 9 Gough Chambers.