Alexander Kingcome Turner

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Sir Alexander Kingcome Turner, KBE QC (18 November 1901 – 7 July 1993) was a notable Auckland-born New Zealand lawyer and judge.

He was one of four children, all sons, born to Joseph Hurst Turner, a teacher, and his wife, Gertrude Kingcome Reid, daughter of a Methodist minister, and attended Mount Eden School and Auckland Grammar School. When he was 11, Alexander's father died, leaving the family in genteel poverty.

Turner managed to graduate from Auckland University College (BA, 1921; MA with first-class honours in economics, 1922; LLB (1923). As a barrister notable successes came in two criminal trials, R v Gardner (1932) 51 NZLR 1648 and R v Phillips [1949] NZLR 316, cases where he was able to have confessions procured by the police by threat or inducement excluded from the evidence. These cases are still cited in textbooks on the law of Evidence today.[1] In 1952, he was made Queen's Counsel (Q.C.). On 29 June 1953, he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. After serving on provincial courts he was named senior Auckland judge. On 30 August 1962 he was elevated to the Court of Appeal in Wellington, alongside Sir Alfred North and Sir Thaddeus McCarthy. Turner served as the court's President from 1 February 1972 until his retirement 17 months later.[2] On retiring from the Court of Appeal, Sir Alexander joined the legal publisher Butterworths of New Zealand as a Director and Editor in Chief,[3] a post he was active in until shortly before his death. In his seventies and eighties he updated a series of textbooks originally written by George Spencer Bower in the early years of the twentieth century. Actionable Misrepresentation was published in 1974 and Estoppel by Representation in 1977. The last of these, The Law of Actionable Non-Disclosure (which Turner co-authored with Professor R J Sutton) was published in 1990 when Turner was 88.


He married Dorothea Frances Mulgan (the sister of writer John Mulgan), a writer, critic, Greek scholar, and weaver, in Wellington on 21 March 1934. The couple would have three children.[2]


He was awarded an honorary LLD by the University of Auckland in 1963. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1963, a Privy Councillor in 1968, and named KBE in 1973.


Alexander Turner died in Auckland on 7 July 1993, aged 91, survived by his wife and three children.


  1. ^ See Cross and Tapper on Evidence, 10th ed, Oxford 2004, p 1991.
  2. ^ a b Spiller, Peter. "Alexander Kingcome Turner". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Obituary; Sir Alexander Turner, The Independent, London, 22 July 1993