Tributes have been paid to former High Court judge Sir Gavin Lightman, who has died aged 80.
The senior lawyer’s death was announced on Tuesday, with his daughter Esther Solomon paying tribute to her father as “a fiercely principled seeker of justice, and a kind, generous, impish, resolutely non-conforming soul”.
She said: “He taught me to be curious, to care, and to have courage in my convictions.”
Sir Gavin was the son of Harold Lightman QC, one of the first Jews in the UK to be head of his chambers, and the brother of Professor Stafford Lightman, president of the British Neuroscience Association.
Former Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush paid his respects, saying: “He was my pupil master, teacher and friend. He was a fine High Court judge who made a lasting contribution to English law.
But above all he was a decent caring man with the qualities rightly attributed to him by Esther”.
Tributes also came from Lord Falconer, Labour’s shadow Lord Chancellor, who said he “was a formidable advocate and brilliant judge. Real human understanding. Great innovative imaginative lawyer. And always brave – as an advocate and as a judge. He was one of the absolute best. A great loss.”
After graduating from University College London in 1961, he was called to the Bar in 1963 at Lincoln’s Inn. He was appointed to the High Court in 1994 until his retirement in 2008, when he then took up a role as chair of Harbour Litigation Funding’s investment committee.
Sir Gavin also held numerous positions within the Jewish community, including with the Anglo-Jewish Association, Hillel House, and as patron of the Commonwealth Jewish Council and Hammerson House.
Trustee of the Anglo-Jewish Association, Michael Newman, paid respects saying: “My colleagues and I were deeply saddened to hear about Sir Gavin Lightman’s passing. Sir Gavin was a long standing Vice-President of the Anglo-Jewish Association whose personal contribution to our activities will be remembered with great fondness. We extend our sincerest sympathies to his family and that they be spared further sorrow.”
Mike Whine MBE, Trustee of the Indian Jewish Association, said: “Sir Gavin Lightman reached the top of the legal profession and managed to combine this with a love for the Jewish community. We are grateful that one of the charities he became involved with was the IJA. After we were formed in 1996, he was steadfast in his support in many ways, attending our meetings, and bringing gravitas and humour to proceedings. Our standing today is built on the work that he and others did. We send our deep condolences to the family.”
Clive Lawton OBE, CEO of the Commonwealth Jewish Council said: “From our earliest days in the 1980s, Sir Gavin Lightman was one of our strong supporters and became a patron in subsequent years. He was blessed with a formidable intellect but also a cheerful humanity, which lent itself to building links between different peoples. We are grateful for the contribution he made, and send our deepest condolences to his family, of whom he was so proud.”