Louis Blom-Cooper

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Sir Louis Jacques Blom-Cooper QC FKC (born 27 March 1926) is an author and UK lawyer specialising in public law and administrative law.

Education[edit]

Louis Blom-Cooper was educated at Port Regis School, Seaford College, University of British Columbia, King's College London (LLB,1952), the University of Amsterdam, and at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.[1]

Career[edit]

He was an academic at the University of London from 1962 to 1984. Prior to this he was a columnist for The Observer. He was Chair of the Mental Health Act Commission from 1987–1994 and a Judge in the Court of Appeal of Jersey and of Guernsey from 1988-1996.

He has chaired more than a dozen inquiries over the last decade including the Guns for Antigua scandal, and the Jasmine Beckford and Ashworth Inquiries. He sat as a Deputy High Court Judge on housing and judicial review cases until 1996.

Blom-Cooper is well known for his regulatory work, particularly as Chair of the Press Council (UK) now the Press Complaints Commission and later as the founding chair of the premium rate telephony regulator, ICSTIS now PhonepayPlus.

In 1992 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as the first Independent Commissioner for the Holding Centres. He held this appointment until April 1999. He was recently called to the Bar of Northern Ireland and granted Silk in Northern Ireland. He was also counsel to the Saville Inquiry acting for the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

The A6 murder, Regina v. James Hanratty[edit]

In 1963 Blom-Cooper argued that Hanratty was probably guilty.[2] In 2002 modern testing of DNA from Hanratty's exhumed corpse convinced Court of Appeal judges that his guilt was proved "beyond doubt".

Hunter & Callaghan v Duckworth & Company and Blom-Cooper[edit]

The 1997 book The Birmingham Six and Other Cases considered recent miscarriages of justice. It prompted an unsuccessful libel action in the Irish courts from Gerry Hunter and Hugh Callaghan.

Initially Blom-Cooper argued that the publication of the book in Ireland was outside of his control. When this failed, he relied on European Convention on Human Rights#Article 10—right to freedom of expression and the newly formulated defence of Qualified privilege—provided good practice was followed it was acceptable to get things wrong.[3] Previously inaccuracy would have led to financial penalty. Despite this, solicitor Gareth Peirce accused Blom-Cooper of "shoddy research" and "total nonsense" in respect of the book.[4]

Campaigner[edit]

Blom-Cooper was involved in the foundation of Amnesty International in 1961, supporting Peter Benenson's idea for an appeal for amnesty for political prisoners. It was at Blom-Cooper's suggestion that Benenson wrote to David Astor, proprieter of the Observer to publicise the campaign. Blom-Cooper also took part in a small committee of individuals who helped carried through the appeal which lead to Amnesty International.

He is also a Patron of Prisoners Abroad a registered charity which supports Britons who are held overseas, and is a trustee of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Author[edit]

Blom-Cooper's published works include

  • Bankruptcy in private international law (1955)
  • The A6 murder, Regina v. James Hanratty: The semblance of truth (1963)
  • The language of the law: An anthology of legal prose (1965)
  • The Hanging Question: Essays on the Death Penalty (1969)
  • Law and Morality (1976)
  • The Case of Jason Mitchell- Report of the Independent Panel of Inquiry; Edited by Louis Blom-Cooper
  • Occupational Therapy -An Emerging Profession in Health Care (1989)
  • The Falling Shadow: One Patient's Mental Health Care 1978-1993 (1995) co-editors Elaine Murphy; Helen Hally
  • The Birmingham Six and Other Cases (1997) (ISBN 0-7156-2813-5)
  • Law and the Spirit of Inquiry : Essays in Honour of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC (1999) co-editors Charles Blake, Gavin Drewry
  • With Malice Aforethought: A Study of the Crime and Punishment for Homicide
  • The Court of Appeal (2007) co-editors Suzanne Fullbrook;Charles Blake
  • The Penalty of Imprisonment: Why 60 Per Cent of the Prison Population Should Not Be There (2008), ISBN 1-84706-153-2

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Zelman Cowen
Chairman of the Press Council
1988–1990
Succeeded by
Position abolished