Judge Michael Argyle QC, has died at the age of 83. He was a controversial character, famous for defending the great train robber Ronnie Biggs and later for presiding over the Oz obscenity trial.
Educated at Westminster, Judge Argyle was called to the Bar in 1938 but was delayed in his legal career by the Second World War, in which he won the Military Cross. He was a Conservative parliamentary candidate in 1950 and 1955 before going on to defend Biggs.
Judge Argyle became a Recorder in 1962, earning his reputation as a maverick for jailing telephone box vandals in Birmingham. Liberals condemned him but vandalism fell until 95 per cent of the city's public phones worked.
In 1970, he became an additional Old Bailey judge and a year later imposed jail terms, subsequently quashed, on the three editors of Oz magazine. For that he was branded “a boring old fart”.
He famously told a black defendant to “get out and go back to Jamaica”, just one quote that secured him a frequent place in the headlines.
But Judge Argyle, who kept whippets, was also a keen gambler – he placed bets in his lunch hour and had a television in his room at court to stay abreast of results.