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A Judge’s Journey brings Lord Dyson back to school

Tuesday 22 October 2019

In his memoir A Judge’s Journey, Lord John Dyson tells of the twists and turns in his travels from Leeds schoolboy to one of the country’s most senior judicial appointments, Master of the Rolls.

In an event hosted at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) on behalf of Ilkley Literature Festival, Lord Dyson was interviewed by fellow lawyer Cathy Baxandall, who is a member of the festival board.

The memoir begins with an insight into John Dyson’s diverse family background and early life in Yorkshire. He was born in Leeds to a Lithuanian father and Bulgarian mother and attended Leeds Grammar School, so his European and Jewish heritage is deeply interwoven with his life in Leeds.

In the book, he explains how a twist of fate set him on the path to a legal career. He studied classics at Oxford and had secured an academic post in the US, but had to delay his finals by a year due to illness. He describes how he faced “a fork in the road” during that time and chose the law instead.

Lord Dyson writes frankly about his views on the modern judiciary in Britain, and some of the high profile cases he eventually became involved with, following his appointment as QC at the relatively early age of 38.

He left the audience in no doubt about his views on the recent Supreme Court decision on the proroguing of Parliament: “I think it was a brilliant decision, I read the judgement twice and encourage you to read it; it’s easy to understand. Parliament is sovereign and it’s wrong that the PM should close it down.”

Challenged from the floor by a former Leeds Grammar School classmate about the authenticity of his book, John responded: “A lot of people have commented on how open and candid the book is. I’ve read memoirs that are bland and boring because people are too afraid to tell the truth.”

The Grammar School at Leeds is an official sponsor of the Ilkley Literature Festival, having worked in partnership with the festival since 2012.

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