|George Alfred Carman
6 October 1929|
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
|Died||2 January 2001
Cause of death
|Alma mater||Balliol College, University of Oxford|
|Spouse(s)||Ursula Groves (1955-195?)
Cecilia Sparrow (1960-1976)
Frances Venning (1976-1984)
Alfred GeorgeEvelyn Carman
George Alfred Carman, QC (6 October 1929 – 2 January 2001) was a leading English barrister of the 1980s and 1990s. He first came to the attention of the general public in 1979, when he successfully defended the former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe after he was charged with conspiracy to murder. Carman had been appointed as a Queen's Counsel (QC) eight years previously.
Carman was born in Blackpool, the son of Alfred and Evelyn Carman (née Moylan). His father, a former soldier and auctioneer, owned a furniture business, and his mother worked in fashion. They met in Ireland; his mother was the daughter of a Waterford Cattle dealer, Michael Moylan. George attended St Joseph's College in Blackpool and a Roman Catholic Seminary - St Joseph's College, Upholland - where he trained as a priest. Carman went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in 1952 with a first-class honours degree in jurisprudence (law). Called to the Bar in 1953, he practised as a barrister on the Northern Circuit in Manchester, doing mostly criminal and personal injury work.
In 1979, after successfully defending the former Leader of the Liberal Party, Jeremy Thorpe, who was charged with conspiracy to murder in a case which became the cause célèbre of the decade, he became involved in a number of significant criminal trials during the 1980s. During this time he developed a close working relationship with solicitor Sir David Napley, with whom he worked on a number of cases, including the Jeremy Thorpe trial. In 1981 he defended Dr Leonard Arthur, which he would later see as his proudest moment. He later said of this doctor who had been accused of murdering a Down's syndrome baby: "He was a very dedicated doctor and clearly a kind and moral man who had done much good for thousands of mothers in this country - hundreds of whom wrote to him and sent flowers during the trial. His acquittal by the jury, very quickly, is the moment in my career which has given me the greatest pleasure."
In 1989, he successfully defended the British comedian Ken Dodd on charges of tax evasion. During the 1990s, he appeared in many prominent libel trials on behalf of British newspapers, including the successful defence of The Guardian against a libel case brought by the Conservative politician, Jonathan Aitken. He became known for his celebrity clients, attracting headlines for his robust cross-examination, colourful one-liners in court and for winning difficult cases against seemingly insurmountable odds. When called back to Manchester in 1991 to save the legendary Haçienda nightclub from the threat of police closure he soon found the problem: the proclamations of owner Tony Wilson. It was reported that his opening advice was "Gentlemen, shut that loudmouth up!"
Carman's reputation was built through representing The News of the World against Sonia Sutcliffe, Richard Branson against GTech and Mohamed Al-Fayed against Neil Hamilton, as well as his representation of Channel 4 when they were sued for libel by South African journalist, Jani Allan. Carman recognised that the case had "international, social, political and cultural implications."
Carman was head of chambers of New Court, Temple before leaving to go to 4-5 Grays Inn Square in 2000 for the last few months of his career. He died of prostate cancer on 2 January 2001, in Merton in south west London. According to an obituary published a week later in The Lawyer, on 9th January 2001: 'Known as "Gorgeous George", he was thought of by many as one of the most difficult men in the legal profession, with a somewhat brash and even obnoxious persona.'
In April 2002, the BBC broadcast the biographical drama Get Carman: The Trials of George Carman QC starring David Suchet as Carman, Lisa Maxwell as Gillian Taylforth, Douglas Reith as Jonathan Aitken and Sarah Berger as Jani Allan.
Carman was married and divorced three times. He married Ursula Groves in 1955, then married Cecilia Sparrow in 1960, with whom he had one son, Dominic. Their marriage was dissolved in 1976, when he married Frances Venning, and that marriage was also dissolved, in 1984.
His son Dominic Carman wrote the controversial biography No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman in 2002 and stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in Barking for the 2010 General election and at the Barnsley Central by-election, 2011.
- Morton, James (3 January 2001). "George Carman - Obituaries". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- "George Carman: The Bar's 'silver fox'". bbc.co.uk. 2 January 2001. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- No Ordinary Man, by Dominic Carman. Chapter 2
- No Ordinary man. by Dominic Carman
- Sweeney, John (19 December 1999). "Brief encounters - George Carman". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- Roberto Calvi
- "Back to the Factory". The Guardian. 12 January 2000. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- A HAM THAT CAN'T BE CURED The Spectator. 21 August 1992
- Verkaik, Robert (3 January 2001). "Britain's most-feared lawyer, George Carman, dies at 71". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- "Get Carman: The Trials of George Carman". Internet Movie Database. 5 April 2002. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- Carman, Dominic (24 January 2002). No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman. London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 0-340-82098-5.