Scrivener crosses swords with judge over funeral

THE APPEAL Court was the scene of an unprecedented and bitter clash between former Bar Council chairman Anthony Scrivener QC and a senior judge.

The clash centred on the death of Scrivener's father at Canterbury on Wednesday.

On hearing of his father's death, Scrivener, who had been conducting a murder appeal, tried during that evening to have the appeal adjourned by phoning the judge's clerk.

But he was told that Lord Justice Russell refused the application.

On Thursday Scrivener, visibly furious, arrived in court and said to the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Turner and Mr Justice Hooper: “I understand your lordship was not willing to grant an adjournment at that stage and I now make a formal application.”

He said he had no family in Canterbury and did not want to leave arrangements to “next door neighbours”.

The appeal case was an important one, he said, and it was essential he was present and did not leave it to his junior. That was his client's wish.

“You are asking in a murder case for me to pass the brief to a junior who is not equipped to do it and who has not had access to the papers. It is grossly unjust and I will not permit it.”

Lord Justice Russell said he was sorry Scrivener had used the sentiments he had, to which Scrivener replied: “I hope they go home, my Lord.”

He added: “I will not go to my father's funeral. I cannot leave a defendant in a murder case in this situation.”

He said: “If I can have 10 minutes to try and get my father's body out of the mortuary and into a chapel of rest. I have no relatives in Canterbury.”

Lord Justice Russell told him he was “desperately sad” over the death of Scrivener's father but added: “Please don't hold pistols to my head.”

In answer to a claim by the judge that the case had over-run its time limit Scrivener said it had not over-run but time had been lost because there had been no advance warning “that your lordship did not understand the case”.

After a brief adjournment Lord Justice Russell said they had decided to allow a two day adjournment.