Nigel Cyprian Bridge, Baron Bridge of
Harwich PC (26 February 1917 – 20 November 2007) was a
Bridge was the presiding judge at the trial of
the Birmingham six
in 1975, quashed
by the Court of Appeal in 1991, and later served as a Law Lord
Early and private life
Bridge's father was Commander Cyprian Bridge
the Royal Navy
. His mother was the
daughter of a cotton manufacturer from Lancashire. His parents
separated shortly after his birth and he never knew his father.
followed his elder brother, Antony
Bridge, to Marlborough College, winning a scholarship. His brother was later
a painter before becoming a Church of
England priest and latterly Dean of Guildford
He left Marlborough aged 17, and spent time in Europe, where he
learned French and German. He worked as a journalist on regional
newspapers in Lancashire, and wrote an unpublished novel. He
volunteered to join the Fleet Air Arm
before the Second World War
but was rejected as being colour blind
He was conscripted into the British
in 1940, serving in the King's Royal Rifle Corps
reaching the rank of Captain
being demobilised in 1946. He married to Margaret Swinbank,
daughter of Leonard Heseltine Swinbank, since 1944. They had three
children, two daughters and one son. His wife died in 2006.
called to the Bar at Inner Temple in 1947, having achieved the first place in that
year's bar exams.
He became a pupil of Martin Jukes
, and then practised as a Barrister-at-Law
at 3 Temple Gardens from
1950, in the chambers headed by Lord
, undertaking mainly personal injury work, but also town
and country planning and local government law. He was made a
at Inner Temple in 1964. He was
later Reader in 1986 and Treasurer in 1986.
From 1964 to 1968, he was Junior Counsel to the Treasury in Common
Law (also known as "Treasury Devil"), as a sure route to the bench.
He became a High Court Judge
1968, joining the Queen's Bench
, and was knighted. He was Presiding Judge of the
1972 to 1974.
the presiding judge at the trial of the Birmingham six, accused of bombings in
Birmingham in November 1974.
In his last case before he
joined the Court of Appeal, his summing up was criticised as being
biased against the defendants, with him saying that there was "the
clearest and most overwhelming evidence I have ever heard in a case
of murder". The defendants served 16 years in prison before the
convictions were quashed due by the Court of Appeal in 1991 due to
new evidence emerging - principally, that the defendants had been
beaten by the police to secure their confessions (similar claims
having been dismissed by Bridge at the original trial).
He became a Lord Justice of
in 1975, and became a Privy
. He was a member of the Security Commission from 1977 and 1985,
serving as chairman between 1982 and 1985, in which capacity he
published a report into the vetting of staff at Buckingham
He also conducted inquiries following the
cases of Geoffrey Prime
, Michael Bettaney
and Rhona Ritchie
He became a Lord of Appeal in
in 1980, and was created a life
with the title Baron Bridge of Harwich
of Harwich, in the County of Essex
. He was the
only Law Lord without a university degree. He was mooted as a
successor to Lord Widgery
as Lord Chief Justice
in 1979, and to
as Master of the Rolls
in 1982, but did not
secure either position.
He joined Lord Oliver of
in dissenting from the majority decision in the
case in 1987. He
criticised the government's case to prevent publication of the
contents of Peter Wright
's book as
"ridiculous". He supported the majority decision in the
case on medical consent in
1985, and in the McLoughlin v
case on recovery of damages for nervous shock
His retirement from the bench in 1992 was compulsory, having
reached 75 years old. He studied mathematical sciences in his
retirement, partly to show that he retained his cognitive
abilities, and obtained a Bachelor
of Science degree from the Open University in 2003, aged 86. He was an Honorary
Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge from 1989, and chairman of the Church of England
Synodical Government Review from 1993 to 1997.
- Bridge, N.C (1982). Baron of Harwich.
Report of an inquiry by the Right Honourable Lord Bridge of
Harwich into the appointment as The Queen's Police Officer, and the
activities of, Commander Trestrail; to determine whether security
was breached or put at risk, and advise whether in consequence any
change in security arrangements is necessary or desirable.
HC59 (November). London: HMSO.