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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Judge in the spotlight
Lord Hutton
Lord Hutton is vastly experienced
The judge who will lead the inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly does not have a reputation for controversy.

Little in 10 years as Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland or a legal career stretching back to the 1950s will have prepared him for the media maelstrom his inquiry is about to generate.

Indeed, Lord Hutton's only previous brushes with controversy - cases involving General Pinochet and renegade spy David Shayler - have not seen the judge under much scrutiny.

The 72-year-old has a reputation as a slightly conservative figure, but is vastly experienced.

He was called to the bar in Northern Ireland in 1954 and by 1970 was a QC, before being called to the bar in England soon afterwards.

He had acted as a legal adviser to the home affairs ministry of the Stormont administration in Northern Ireland and had acted for the UK when it stood accused of poor treatment of internees at the European Court of Human Rights.

Lord Hutton became a High Court judge for Northern Ireland in 1979 before replacing Sir Robert Lowry as Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice in 1988.

He has ruled on prominent cases, such as dismissing the appeal of Private Lee Clegg, jailed for shooting a teenage joyrider.

Clegg was later cleared of the murder by Lord Hutton's successor.

Pinochet case

He became an English Lord of Appeal in 1997, and contributed to two high-profile rulings.

He was one of the law lords who criticised Lord Hoffman for his role in the extradition proceedings against General Augusto Pinochet.

Lord Hoffman had contributed to a decision that the former Chilean leader could be arrested and extradited for crimes against humanity without emphasising his links to human rights group Amnesty International.

Lord Hutton said "public confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice would be shaken" if Lord Hoffman's ruling was not overturned.

The law lord was also involved in the ruling that David Shayler, the former MI5 agent, could not argue he was acting in the public interest by revealing secrets.

Lord Hutton's experiences in Northern Ireland and England and Wales have clearly left him no stranger to sensitive cases which touch on national security issues.


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