I am sad to report that Lord Bingham died this afternoon. The former senior law lord was the outstanding judge of his generation with a superb mind and a fierce independence.
The news was broken this evening by Alexander Layton QC, chairman of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, which is setting up the Bingham Centre in memory of Tom Bingham.
Lord Bingham, 76, had made no secret of the fact that he was suffering from cancer. Layton said Bingham died at his beloved cottage in Wales with Elizabeth and his three children. “The vicar came and Tom was able, with his family, to have a last communion,” Layton addded.
In a message to Lady Bingham, Layton said he had “remarked on Tom’s extraordinary depth of wisdom and humanity and said that we would do our level best to make the Bingham Centre a fitting and lasting tribute to him and all he stood for”.
Professor Jeffrey Jowell QC, recently appointed director of the Bingham Centre, said he had offered Lady Bingham and her family heartfelt condolences. Jowell had discussed the centre with Lord Bingham a couple of weeks ago and was devastated that the former judge would not be at his side to take it forward.
Lord Bingham was successively Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and senior law lord. In 2005, he was appointed a Knight of the Garter, an honour in the personal gift of the Queen and one only rarely conferred on judges.
Though he had reached the compulsory retirement age of 75, he would have been much in demand as an arbitrator and lecturer if he had not been stricken with lung-cancer (he was not a smoker) and then cancer of the spine.