Obituary: Robert Henderson QC, 75

Robert Henderson featured in a series of high-profile cases
Robert Henderson featured in a series of high-profile cases
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ONE of the country’s leading advocates has died suddenly in France at the age of 75.

Robert Henderson QC, who built a towering reputation for his work in the Capital, died on Sunday after a short illness.

The Gullane-based advocate grew up in Kirkwall to parents William Ewart Henderson and Agnes née Ker, attending Larchfield School in Helensburgh and Morrison’s Academy in Crieff.

He was admitted to Glasgow University, studying alongside a golden generation of lawyers and politicians including Menzies Campbell, Donald Dewar and Lord Derry Irvine.

Despite the list of luminaries, Bob – as he was better known – was named president of the University Law Society in 1961.

He was inadvertently caught up in a slice of Scottish history in his first case at the High Court in 1963 as junior to advocate depute Bertie Grieve, when Henry John Burnett was sentenced to become the last man in Scotland to be hanged for murder.

Bob was an honorary sheriff substitute at Stirling, Dumbarton and Clackmannan in 1968 and served as counsel to the Department of Trade between 1974 and 1977.

That experience led him in 1974 to twice stand as the Conservative candidate in the Inverness-shire seat held by Russell Johnston.

The lawyer would build his reputation as a defence advocate in a series of high-profile criminal trials after becoming a QC in 1982.

Bob was also hand-picked amongst a star team of advocates assembled by lawyer Len Murray to represent four Rangers and Celtic players charged over incidents during an Old Firm match.

Some of his most notable work came when he defended a host of miners during the 1984 strike.

Bob also represented the BBC and a string of newspapers. His defence of gay solicitor Colin Tucker, who was acquitted of an embezzlement charge despite admitting to diverting funds, was one of his greatest professional successes.

A keen golfer, Bob was a member of the New Club and of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, often playing at Muirfield.

He entered semi-retirement in 2001 before moving to Dubai three years later. His consultancy work overseas allowed him to buy a home in south-west France.

Close friend and Judge Lord McCluskey said it was a tragedy that Bob’s life had been cut short. He added: “He loved Edinburgh and he had many happy years in Gullane and playing golf at Muirfield.

“I remember sitting until the wee small hours hearing his trenchant views about people, politics and events he felt so strongly about. But, caustic or dismissive, he was free of malice.”

Bob is survived by his third wife, Carolyn Gell – whom he married in 1995 – and four children.