Tributes paid to Sir William Macpherson, judge in Stephen Lawrence inquiry

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland

Tributes have been paid to Sir William Macpherson, who led the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, who has died aged 94.

Sir William produced a report in 1999 following an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

The Metropolitan Police was described as “institutionally racist” in his report.

A statement on the Clan Macpherson website said that the clan’s 27th Chief, Sir William Macpherson of Cluny and Blairgowrie died “peacefully at home” on February 14 2021, surrounded by his family.

It stated: “We were fortunate to have had his guidance, support and leadership for an incredible 50 years and the world will have benefited from his 94 years on this earth.

“His phrase ‘first amongst equals’ doesn’t even start to mark the presence he had.

“Through his work in law (what better epitaph could someone wish for than the phrase used by a journalist ‘He made Britain a better place for me to live’) to his leadership at the after-ceilidh-ceilidh he was a man who left his mark on those he met.”

Sir William was a Judge of the High Court of England and Wales (Queen’s Bench Division) where he served as presiding judge of the Northern Circuit until his retirement in April 1996.

Before his appointment as a judge he was a Queen’s Counsel practising in London and abroad.

He served in the Scots Guards between 1944 and 1947, transferring to the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Territorial Army) with whom he served until 1965 and served as the Honorary Colonel of the 21st SAS from 1983 onwards, according to the clan website.

Many public figures have taken to social media to pay tribute to him.

Tottenham MP David Lammy tweeted: “Sad to hear Sir William MacPherson has died.

“His seminal report was a watershed moment that unflinchingly raised the spectre of institutional racism in the Met police and across public services.

“Twenty years on and in the wake of BLM there is much more to do.”

David Davis, Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, tweeted: “Sir William Macpherson passed away yesterday.

“He was a great man, and will be missed.”

Meanwhile Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP tweeted: “Very sorry to hear of the death of my constituent, Sir William Macpherson, distinguished High Court judge, who led the Inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence case.

“The challenge, rigour and humanity of his report was a product of who he was.

“He did much good locally in Blairgowrie.”

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