Hong Kong Lawyer

October 2017

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16 www.hk-lawyer.org •  October 2017 Former Director of Public Prosecutions for England & Wales and presently Warden of Wadham College, Oxford By Cynthia G. Claytor Lord Ken Macdonald QC Face to Face with Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions for England & Wales and presently Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, discusses his career and comments on his recent Ming Pao article, The Rule of Law is not a Movable Feast, in which he outlines the essential features of a rule of law system. L ord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP") for England & Wales and presently Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, was drawn to a career in law by his love for debate and his desire to pursue a career that had social worth. "Justice seemed to be paramount among other societal values – it binds everything together," he said. Given his early disposition, his gravitation towards a career in the law is fitting. Over the nearly four decades that he has practised, his avid interest in justice and criminal justice policy has motivated him to pursue a variety of complex criminal work. As an advocate, he has worked on both sides of the justice system, achieving the highest levels of excellence in both criminal defence and prosecutorial work. And not only as a lawyer and judge, but also as a scholar and civil servant, he has remained a stalwart advocate for protecting civil and human rights and safeguarding the essential features of a rule of law system. Here, Lord Macdonald engages in a remote discussion with Hong Kong Lawyer about his legal career and then elaborates on some of the views he expressed in his recently published article, The Rule of Law is Not a Movable Feast, which appeared in Ming Pao on 5 September 2017. Opposite Sides of the Same Coin In 1978, Lord Macdonald was admitted to practise law in England & Wales, starting his career at the bar as the first pupil of Helena Kennedy QC, now herself a member of the House of Lords. As a barrister, much of his time was spent defending leading IRA and Middle Eastern terrorist suspects. He also defended major drug dealers and alleged fraudsters, and was also a junior in the Matrix Churchill case over the alleged smuggling of arms to Iraq. In 2000, he was among a group of barristers who set up Matrix Chambers in anticipation of work flowing from the UK's then-new Human Rights Act. In 2001, he was appointed a Recorder of the Crown Court. In 2003, he was elected Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, and later that year he was appointed DPP, becoming the first prominent defence lawyer in England & Wales to be appointed to that post. When the opportunity to become DPP came about, Lord Macdonald said that it was just "irresistible". To work in criminal law at this level and to have the opportunity to shape an agency which is so integral to the delivery of criminal justice – it seemed like the best job in the country, he explained. In spite of the fierce criticism he faced upon appointment due to his lack of prosecutorial experience, upon taking office, Lord Macdonald insisted, to the contrary, that his defence experience would be a huge advantage to him. "I saw prosecution work as being connected to human rights and due process, just as defence work was. Fair prosecutors acting under the law are guarantors of fair trials just as defence lawyers are," he said. "I had no doubt that I would be able to leverage my experience to succeed in this new role." In a 2004 article that appeared in The Guardian, Lord Macdonald was quoted as saying: "[t]o suggest that someone who comes from the defence side is somehow disabled [as a prosecutor] is a complete misreading of the way the criminal law and the criminal trial process works. It's rather like saying that because you've played for Tottenham [football team], you can't play for Arsenal. The truth is, whichever side you're on, if you have practised criminal law in the courts [at the highest levels] for many years, you know the system inside out."

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