Professor Sir Geoffrey Lionel Bindman QC (born 3 January 1933) is a British solicitor specialising in human rights law, and founder of the human rights law firm Bindmans LLP, described by The Times as "never far from the headlines." He has been Chair of the British Institute of Human Rights since 2005. He won The Law Society Gazette Centenary Award for Human Rights in 2003, and was knighted in 2006 for services to human rights. In 2011 he was appointed Queen's Counsel.
Family and early professional life
Bindman was born and brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne to a family descended from Jewish immigrants. His father Gerald (1904–1974) was a GP who married Rachael Lena Doberman in 1929. Bindman attended the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, and then graduated from Oriel College, Oxford, with a law degree in 1956, qualifying as a solicitor three years later. He became a legal advisor to the Race Relations Board in 1966, a job he retained for 17 years. He also served as a legal advisor to Amnesty International and represented satirical magazine Private Eye. In the late 1980s, Bindman visited South Africa as part of an International Commission of Jurists delegation sent to investigate apartheid and subsequently became editor of a book on the topic, South Africa and the Rule of Law. Geoffrey has a second cousin who owns another law firm, Bindman Solicitors LLP trading as Bindman & Co, in Whickham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His brother is Professor David Bindman (born 1940), emeritus Durning-Lawrence professor of the history of art at University College London and research fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.
In 1974, Bindman established Bindmans LLP as a firm with the aim of "protecting the rights and freedoms of ordinary people." Since then, he has personally acted as lawyer for numerous high-profile people including James Hanratty, Keith Vaz and Jack Straw. Bindman also continued his international human rights work, acting as a United Nations observer at the first democratic election in South Africa and representing Amnesty International's interests in the British litigation regarding Augusto Pinochet in the late 1990s.
In 2001, Bindman was fined £12,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for acting despite having a conflict of interest, as well as for breach of confidentiality. It was remarked at the time that he was the "most eminent" lawyer ever to be brought before such a tribunal.
In 2012, Andrew Hopper QC, who was a leading prosecutor before the Tribunal until 2002, reviewed Bindman’s case. He found the main charge was at worst “a ‘bare conflict’ having no adverse consequence” and said the Tribunal's verdict on its seriousness was "incomprehensible". He also suggested the decision to prosecute and the level of the fine were reactions to Bindman’s “robust” defence to the charges against him. Hopper sympathised with the view that Bindman was treated “disproportionately because of his stature in the profession”.
In September 2012, Bindman told BBC Radio 4 he agreed with Desmond Tutu that British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be prosecuted on the grounds that starting the Iraq War was a "crime of aggression" in breach of the United Nations Charter.
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