Robert Lowry, Baron Lowry
Robert Lynd Erskine Lowry, Baron Lowry, PC (NI) (30 January 1919 – 15 January 1999), often known as Robbie Lowry, was a Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. Knighted in 1971, he was created a life peer as Baron Lowry, of Crossgar in the County of Down on 18 July 1979, in the early months of the Thatcher government.
His father was former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament and Attorney General for Northern Ireland William Lowry. His mother was niece of Sinn Féin activist, Robert Wilson Lynd. He attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Jesus College, Cambridge where he read Classics, achieving a double first.
He has since held the title of Honorary Colonel for
- 38th Irish Infantry Brigade - 5th Battalion and 7th Battalion
- Royal Irish Rangers- 5th (Volunteer) Battalion 
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (July 2015)|
He was admitted to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1947. He was a High Court Judge in Northern Ireland from 1964 until he became Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland in 1971, when he was also made a Northern Ireland Privy Counsellor.
Prior to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973 coming into force, Lowry excluded confessions made by Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) suspects in British Army detention on the grounds that they were not made voluntarily. The introduction of the Act reduced the scope of what was inadmissible.
Lowry did not exclude self-incriminating evidence alone as insufficient to convict upon, and in R v. Gorman he found that the Northern Ireland Act 1972 s. 1, by retrospectively validating the conferment of powers of arrest under the regulations, rendered lawful the otherwise unlawful arrest and subsequent detention of Gorman. Lowry was unable to implement Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as it was not incorporated into UK law until the Human Rights Act 1998.
In 1977, John Hume challenged a regulation under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922 which allowed any soldier to disperse an assembly of three or more people. Lowry held that the regulation was ultra vires under Section 4 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 which forbade the Parliament of Northern Ireland from making laws in respect of the British Army.
In 1980, Lowry partly excused the actions of two Royal Ulster Constabulary members of the Glennane gang[according to whom?] convicted of murder and bombing by saying they acted under the "powerful motive... that more than ordinary police work was justified to rid the land of the pestilence which had been in existence". This was criticised by the Historical Enquiries Team of the Police Service of Northern Ireland as "difficult to conceive of a statement more fundamentally flawed or calculated to destroy the confidence of a large section of the community in the court's independence and probity".[unreliable source?]
Lowry presided over some of the Diplock court cases. He also presided over the supergrass trial in 1983 where Kevin McGrady, a former IRA member, gave evidence which led to the conviction of seven out of ten defendants. As a result, Lowry became an IRA target, narrowly missing death on at least three occasions. In 1982, having just survived a hail of IRA bullets, he proceeded to give a planned lecture at Queen's University, Belfast.
Lord Lowry married twice:
- Mary Martin (d. 1987), in 1948, with whom he had three daughters (Sheila, Anne and Margaret).
- Barbara Calvert, Lady Lowry QC, in 1994 (daughter of Albert Parker CBE). She died in 2015.
|Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland