Michael Lavery QC RIP

I was greatly saddened to hear yesterday of the death of Michael Lavery, one of the most distinguished, talented and comradely members of the Northern Ireland Bar.

Michael Lavery QC

I had known Michael almost as long as I have been a journalist; his encyclopedic knowledge of, and insights into local politics, his willingness to talk about important cases that he was involved in and his readiness always to offer a helping hand made him a good friend as well a greatly valued adviser.

Michael was my barrister when we challenged Scotland Yard’s subpoena attempting to confiscate my notes of interviews with the late Billy Stobie, the UDA quarter master and RUC Special Branch agent who had supplied the weapons used to kill Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Stobie mantained that he had told his handlers about the UDA’s request for weapons from a dump under his control although he did not know until afterwards that the intended victim was Pat Finucane. But after the killing, he  informed his handlers about the murder weapon’s movement. No effort was made by the police to interdict the gun.

Scotland Yard’s effort to force me to hand over the Stobie interview notes foundered when, at judicial review, Michael persuaded the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Robert Carswell to deny the Scotland Yard subpoena on the grounds that the police do not have an automatic right to such information.

Michael was one of the last of a great generation of Northern Ireland lawyers, amongst whom one could count Desmond Boal and Paddy McGrory, all of whom are now dead. Michael’s passing marks the end of an era in the Belfast law courts. He will be sadly missed.

2 responses to “Michael Lavery QC RIP

  1. Ralph Erskine

    Your excellent tribute to Michael Lavery was fitting and well deserved.
    I hope you will consider writing an obituary for him. The London Daily Telegraph might be interested (it published one on John Creaney in 2008 (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/2081055/John-Creaney-Senior-counsel-in-Northern-Ireland-who-prosecuted-many-terrorists-during-the-Troubles..html), but it would be as well to check with the obits editor before doing any work.
    Andrew Brown is the Daily Telegraph obituaries editor obituaries@telegraph.co.uk
    or the Guardian might be interested in view of Michael’s record on civil rights
    Robert White is the Obituary Editor of the Guardian obituaries@theguardian.com

    I have some information and a few contacts, who should be able to help. If you need more, please email me.

    Regards
    Ralph Erskine

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