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Brian Hutton, Baron Hutton

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Title: Brian Hutton, Baron Hutton  
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Subject: Dishonest assistance, David Kelly (weapons expert), Derek Bentley case, 2003 in the United Kingdom, Brian Hutton
Collection: 1931 Births, Alumni of Balliol College, Oxford, Alumni of Queen's University Belfast, Barristers from Northern Ireland, British Queen's Counsel, High Court Judges of Northern Ireland, Judges in Northern Ireland, Knights Bachelor, Law Lords, Living People, Lords Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Members of the Bar of Northern Ireland, Members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, People Educated at Shrewsbury School, People from Belfast, Queen's Counsel 1901–2000
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Brian Hutton, Baron Hutton

The Right Honourable
The Lord Hutton
Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
In office
Appointed by Elizabeth II
Preceded by Lord Lowry
Succeeded by Lord Carswell
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
6 January 1997 – 11 January 2004
Appointed by Elizabeth II
Preceded by The Lord Woolf
Succeeded by Lord Carswell
Personal details
Born James Brian Edward Hutton
(1931-06-29) 29 June 1931
Belfast, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford

James Brian Edward Hutton, Baron Hutton, Kt, PC, QC (born 29 June 1931) is a former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and British Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.


  • Background 1
  • Judge 2
  • Styles 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Hutton was born in Belfast in 1931, the son of a railways executive, he won a scholarship to Shrewsbury School[1] and Balliol College, Oxford (BA jurisprudence, 1953) before returning to Belfast to become a barrister (after study at Queen's University Belfast), being called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1954. He began working as junior counsel to the Attorney General for Northern Ireland in 1969.

He became Queen's Counsel in 1970. From 1979 to 1988, he was (as Sir Brian Hutton) a High Court judge. In 1988 he became Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, becoming a member of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland, before moving to England to become a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary 6 January 1997. He was consequently granted a life peerage as Baron Hutton, of Bresagh in the County of Down.[2]


On 30 March 1994, as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, he dismissed Private Lee Clegg's appeal against his controversial murder conviction. On 21 March 2002 Lord Hutton was one of four Law Lords to reject David Shayler's application to use a "public interest" defence as defined in section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 at his trial.

Lord Hutton represented the Ministry of Defence at the inquest into the killing of civil rights marchers on "Bloody Sunday". Later, he publicly reprimanded Major Hubert O'Neil, the coroner presiding over the inquest, when the coroner accused the British Army of murder, as this contradicted the findings of the Widgery Tribunal.[3]

Hutton also came to public attention in 1999 during the extradition proceedings of former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet had been arrested in London on torture allegations by request of a Spanish judge. Five Law Lords, the UK's highest court, decided by a 3-2 majority that Pinochet was to be extradited to Spain. The verdict was then overturned by a panel of seven Law Lords, including Lord Hutton[4] on the grounds that Lord Hoffmann, one of the five Law Lords, had links to human rights group Amnesty International which had campaigned for Pinochet's extradition.

In 1978 he defended Britain in the European Court of Human Rights when it was found guilty of torturing internees without trial. He sentenced 10 men to 1,001 years in prison on the word of "supergrass" informer Robert Quigley, who was granted immunity in 1984.

Lord Hutton was appointed by the Blair government to chair the inquiry on the circumstances surrounding the death of scientist David Kelly. The inquiry commenced on 11 August 2003. Many observers were surprised when he delivered his report on 28 January 2004 and cleared the British Government in large part. His criticism of the BBC was regarded by some as unduly harsh; one critic commented that he had given the "benefit of judgement to virtually everyone in the government and no-one in the BBC.".[5] In response to the verdict, the front page of The Independent newspaper consisted of one word, "Whitewash?".

Peter Oborne wrote in The Spectator in January 2004: "Legal opinion in Northern Ireland, where Lord Hutton practised for most of his career, emphasises the caution of his judgments. He is said to have been habitually chary of making precedents. But few people seriously doubt Hutton's fairness or independence. Though [he is] a dour Presbyterian, there were spectacular acquittals of some very grisly IRA terrorist suspects when he was a judge in the Diplock era." [6]

Lord Hutton retired as a Law Lord on 11 January 2004.


  • Mr James Brian Edward Hutton (1931–1970)
  • Mr James Brian Edward Hutton, QC (1970–1979)
  • Sir James Brian Edward Hutton, QC (1979–1988)
  • The Rt. Hon. Sir James Brian Edward Hutton, QC (1988–1997)
  • The Rt. Hon. Lord Hutton, PC, QC (1997–)

See also


  1. ^ Lord Hutton profile, The Independent
  2. ^ "State Intelligence". London Gazette. 13 January 1997. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  3. ^ see BBC News
  4. ^ BBC News, BBC News
  5. ^ BBC News
  6. ^ The truth is he lied » 10 Jan 2004 » The Spectator Archive

External links

  • The GuardianProfile from
  • BBC profile of Hutton
  • piece: former Sinn Féin man Danny Morrison reviews Hutton's rulingsGuardian
  • about his retirementBBC NewsStory from
  • The Hutton Inquiry
Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert Lowry
Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Robert Carswell
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