Legal eagles' tribute in Mold to former high court judge

Published date: 12 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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Past and present crown court judges gathered for a special eulogy in honour of a retired judge who died last week.

Members of David Morgan Hughes QC’s family,  including his widow Mrs Elizabeth Morgan, attended the special ceremony held at Mold Crown Court yesterday.

Tributes to Judge Morgan Hughes were led by Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, who was accompanied by Judge Merfyn Hughes, QC, the late judge’s nephew, and Judge Philip Hughes.

Among the barristers, solicitors, magistrates, staff and other court users were three retired judges who also sat on a regular basis at Mold and Caernarfon Crown Courts, Judge Alan Phillips, Judge Gareth Edwards, QC, and Judge David Hale.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said that Judge Morgan Hughes was born in January 1926 “the son of the manse” and attended school at Beaumaris.

His university education had to be delayed when he was conscripted in 1944 and was commissioned to the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

He was after a time seconded to the Second Battalion of the Welsh Regiment to Burma and ended his military career in 1949 as captain.

Judge Morgan Hughes studied law at the London School of Economics, at the time, a part of London University, and was called to the bar in 1953.

He embarked on a career based at 40 King Street in Chester and was a stalwart of the Wales and Chester circuit.

His contemporaries were Sir Robin David, QC, and Judge Eifion Roberts, also the “son of the manse” and a former pupil at Beaumaris.

“The three of them became titans of this part of the circuit,” she said.

In 1970 he became deputy chairman of Caernarfon quarter sessions and was a deputy chairman of the Land Tribunal.

When the crown court was set up in 1972 he was appointed one of the first crown court Recorders.

He served as a crown court judge from 1972 until his retirement in 1998 and was president of Her Majesty’s Council of Circuit Judges.

A measure of his reputation was that he was one of the few crown court judges who sat as additional judges at the Central Criminal Court in London.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said they were privileged to have three of his former pupils present in court.

The late Judge Morgan Hughes and his wife Elizabeth married in 1956, they were devoted to each other, and had three children Janet, Karen and David and grandchildren.

There was always a warm welcome at their home in Kelsall, “where the gardens were immaculate and the hospitality lavish”, she said

“The circuit has lost one of its own,” she added, and extended condolences to the family.

Tributes were paid on behalf of the barristers by Duncan Bould and on behalf of the solicitors by Stephen Edwards.

Mr Bould said that the late judge was a “genuine, learned man who was kind with his guidance and who had a mischievous sense of humour”.

Mr Edwards told of the time he was involved with many bail applications in front of Judge Morgan Hughes as a young solicitor – including one which continued in the judge’s car in the car park when the alarm had gone off in court.

A minutes silence was held as a mark of respect.

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