Richard Ferguson (barrister)

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Richard Ferguson QC, SC (22 August 1935 – 26 July 2009)[1] was a barrister and politician from Northern Ireland.

Born in Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, the son of a sergeant in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Ferguson attended Rainey Endowed School and Methodist College. He later studied Law at Trinity College, Dublin and Queen's University, Belfast.[1] He qualified to practice as a barrister in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and from 1972, in England.[2]

In 1968, Ferguson was elected to the Parliament of Northern Ireland for the Ulster Unionist Party, representing South Antrim.[2] He was considered a liberal Unionist and was a supporter of the Prime Minister Terence O'Neill. [3] Before his election, he had called for local government reform including a one man, one vote system.[4]

Ferguson held his seat at the 1969 general election. In August, he resigned from the Orange Order, and was subsequently subject to intimidation.[5] He stood down from Parliament in 1970 alongside O'Neill, citing ill health.[2] In April, his house was firebombed in an attack blamed on loyalists.[5]

In 1971, Ferguson joined the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland[2] but did not continue in an active political role.[1] Instead, he focused on law, becoming a Queen's Counsel (QC) in Northern Ireland in 1973 and chairing the Northern Ireland Mental Health Review Tribunal from 1973 until 1984. He departed Northern Ireland in 1983 and became a Senior Counsel, before moving to London in 1986 where he became a QC in England.[1] From 1993 until 1995, he served as the Chair of the Criminal Bar Association.[2]

He was defence counsel in many high-profile cases, such as those of mass-murderers Rosemary West and Patrick Magee, and successfully defended two British soldiers accused of war crimes in Iraq.[1] By 2003, he was the top-earning criminal defence barrister, with more than £800,000 in that year.[1]

Death notification[edit]

Ferguson died after heart surgery on 26 July 2009, aged 73. He is survived by his second wife, Roma (née Whelan), a solicitor, and their son; and by his first wife, Janet (née Magowan), and their four children.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Northern Ireland-born QC who defended Rose West and Brighton bomber dies aged 73", Belfast Telegraph, 29 July 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e Biographies of Members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
  3. ^ Graham Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party
  4. ^ 14–19 October 1968, Historical Documents Project, The Queen's University of Belfast
  5. ^ a b Tony Geraghty, The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence

External links[edit]

Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Brian McConnell
Member of Parliament for South Antrim
Succeeded by
William Beattie