Obituary: Peter Peddie

Obituary: Peter PeddiePeter Charles Peddie CBE QC died on 3 February 2009. Peddie joined Freshfields ­Bruckhaus Deringer as an articled clerk in the 1950s and became a partner there in 1960 at the age of 28.

He quickly established himself as a company law ­specialist. In the early 1970s Peddie was involved in M&A activity in sectors including oil and gas, and headed Freshfields’ team advising the UK ­Government’s privatisation programme of the 1980s.

Peddie was involved in many cases of ­international significance. In the closing days of Jimmy Carter’s tenure, the US president was focused on ending the Tehran hostage crisis peacefully. Iran’s terms included the release of assets frozen by the US following the Shah’s exile, some of which were held in the Bank of England (BoE). Peddie and the BoE’s chief cashier were flown to Algeria and over the course of a sleepless weekend they engineered the transfer of gold held by the BoE and the hostages were freed with minutes to go before Ronald Reagan’s ­inauguration.

From that point onwards, Peddie remained the BoE’s lead adviser. The CBE that followed was for “services to the legal profession” – perhaps as much of a prediction as a conclusion.

Peddie enjoyed an ability to foretell ­significant legal events by booking holidays. When he retired from Freshfields in 1991 he learned of the collapse of BCCI while enjoying a well-earned rest. A short break in 1995 saw the demise of Barings. These events only helped to strengthen a long-held suspicion that time away from the office might be dangerous.

Peddie advised the BoE in the course of the Bingham Inquiry into the BCCI collapse, one ­recommendation of which was the ­establishment of an in-house legal function within the BoE. He quickly abandoned thoughts of ­retirement and set up the bank’s legal unit.

As the Three Rivers litigation took hold Peddie was at the helm. He enjoyed the role of trusted ­adviser to the BoE’s then governor Sir Eddie George, a man who shared his dedication to both duty and cigarettes. The role stretched Peddie’s expertise – he was once asked by the governor whether EU regulations banning smoking in the workplace extended to meetings of the ­Monetary Policy Committee. Unfortunately, the minutes do not record the answer.

In 1997 the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay, made Peddie an honorary QC. He was one of very few solicitors to enjoy the accolade at the time – a gesture warmly endorsed by his many friends at the bar and on the bench, and a reflection of his unfussy pursuit of excellence and the breadth of the esteem in which he was held by the legal community.

Despite a fearsome commitment to the world of work, Peddie will also be remembered for his unwavering dedication to his family, friends and his village and church in rural Hampshire. His successes include a 48-year-long joint venture with his wife Charlotte. Together they raised four children, enjoyed the noise of 12 grandchildren and gave many pets luxurious lodgings. Peddie was a some time birdwatcher and fisherman, and always a passionate gardener. He was a true delight and helping things grow was a unifying theme in the garden, the home and the office.

Peddie was featured in The Lawyer’s Hall of Fame in 2008.