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82 Medico-Legal J. 130 (2014)
Obituary: HH Michael Brooke QC (1942-2014)

handle is hein.journals/medlgjr82 and id is 120 raw text is: 

Obituary                                                                                 Journal

Obituary: HH Michael Brooke QC


Michael Brooke was a long-standing member of the
Society's council who would in due course have been
elected President of the Society, but sadly he died in the
summer of 2014. He completed his active and distin-
guished legal career in 2004 sitting as a circuit judge for
six years in Essex in what he called the front line
violence, drugs and sex, laced with a little fraud. His
conduct on this battlefield was good-humoured, calm,
unruffled and humane, earning him the respect and
affection of all who worked with him. Michael and
three London-based fellow judges bound for Basildon
regularly loaded their bicycles onto the early train at
Fenchurch Street station. Dressed eccentrically in a
garb that included items of yellow hi-vis gear, they
were occasionally mistaken for a quartet of railway
workers. Where are the First Class carriages?
demanded a particularly superior lady solicitor on
one occasion. (There were none.) It gave them wry
pleasure when later she had to bow coming into their
   Michael Brooke would even bring out the best from
those in the dock. Sentencing in drug cases often
involves a rehabilitation order requiring the defendant
to return to court once a month for a talk with (if
possible) his sentencing judge so that his progress can
be monitored and his rehabilitation encouraged. One
youth, expecting to see Michael Brooke on his visit,
almost broke down in tears when he learnt that
he was not available and that he would be seeing some-
one else.
   But crime had played a very small role in his career
before his appointment as a judge. As a barrister, his
speciality was medical negligence work, notably high
value complex claims. He also developed a speciality
in cases concerning blood. In the HIV haemophiliac
litigation in the late eighties and early nineties, he was
the lead junior counsel in the team presenting the case
for over 1000 people who had been treated by the NHS
with transfusions of blood infected with HIV. The alle-
gations concerned alleged Government mismanage-
ment of the National Blood Transfusion Service.
   The law was against the haemophiliacs but Michael
Brooke's powerful presentation of the case had its
effect. The judge, Sir Harry Ognall, took the unprece-
dented step of writing an open, hand-written note for
the attention of everyone involved recommending a

Medico-Legal Journal
2014, Vol. 82(4) 130-131
@ The Author(s) 2014
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10. 1177/0025817214560293

settlement. That the law must take its course, he
wrote, is not an attractive principle in the context of
this case. The government later made a £42 million
grant to a trust set up for the benefit of the haemophil-
iacs and their families.
   Even more significant was his handling of the
Hepatitis C litigation in 2000, another case concerning
contaminated blood transfusions. By then a QC (he took
silk in 1994) the case was advanced based on European
and comparative law, something that Michael Brooke
was perhaps uniquely able to do, having studied law in
Paris and been admitted to the Paris bar in 1987.
Brussels had set out to harmonise consumer law
throughout the European Union with the Product
Liability Directive in 1985, which the UK implemented
as the Consumer Protection Act of 1987. Michael
Brooke championed the Directive, and the case was not-
able for the comparative law analysis of how the
Directive had been implemented in other European
countries in order properly to understand how it
should be applied in England. This was a ground-break-
ing approach at the time, but Mr Justice Burton's judg-
ment of the case endorsed the arguments and set the
scene for other large multi-party cases that have adopted
a similar legal approach, for example the oral contracep-
tive claims, the MMR litigation and many others.
   Michael Brooke also sat on the Medical Health
Review Tribunal and the Parole Board. In 2003, he
was elected a Bencher of Gray's Inn.
   Michael Brooke's early life was colourful. He was
born in London in 1942, the only son of a theatrical
couple, Reginald and Beryl Brooke. His father was a
war-time BBC announcer (calling himself Michael
Brooke). His mother acted with the stage name
of Beryl Riggs and is remembered for her part in Just
William productions. Michael Brooke seemed to be fol-
lowing the family calling, appearing on radio, television
and in seven films as a boy actor. His role as Jack
Hawkins's eight-year-old son in the Michael Balcon
film The Long Arm still gets an occasional airing on
television. His family had a riverside garden by the
Thames at Datchet and it was here that he spent a
Swallows and Amazons childhood, messing about in
boats. The river garden continued to be the scene of
yearly summer parties, and both France and boats
remained important elements of his life.

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