Michael Beloff

Behind the top 20

This is a story of resurrection. A mere three decades ago, club football in England was a professional game largely and listlessly run by amateurs. Fans shuffled in decreasing numbers to obsolete stadia redolent of pie and pee. Lives were lost in the tragedies of Bradford, Hillsborough and Heysel. The sport was scarcely entertainment; it

Law and disorder

Sir Stephen Sedley read English at Cambridge and Lord Dyson Classics at Oxford. Both switched to law and achieved high judicial office, the former a senior Lord Justice of Appeal, the latter as Master of the Rolls. Both were effective advocates as well as admired judges (not always the case). Both clearly enjoyed these two

The real wizard of Oz

What makes a barrister famous? At one time, many of the best advocates were also prominent politicians, whose day job was in court and who moonlighted in the Commons — think F.E. Smith. But it is impossible today to double up with any distinction. As long as capital punishment survived, public attention also attached to

No ordinary judge

Justice McCardie was anything but a conventional High Court judge. He left school at 15 and was called to the bar at 25. After ten years of provincial practice he turned down the offer from Joseph Chamberlain of a safe Conservative seat, although politics was then the conventional highway to the bench (unlike now when

Another challenge for Trump

James D. Zirin is an experienced litigator as well as the host of a popular television talkshow. In this provocative polemic he uses skills developed both from behind the bar and in front of the camera to mount the charge that the US Supreme Court is a political court. How far does his evidence support

Running the triple crown

The story of the Czechoslovak runner Emil Zátopek is a tale from athletics’ age of innocence. Without the aid of qualified coaches, state-of-the-art equipment or ‘performance-enhancing’ drugs, Emil Zátopek set no fewer than 18 world records over distances between 5,000 and 30,000 metres with a style memorably described as that of ‘a man wrestling with

The devils’ advocate | 25 June 2015

Jeremy Hutchinson was the doyen of the criminal bar in the 1960s and 1970s. No Old Bailey hack or parvenu Rumpole, he was the son of Jack, a distinguished practitioner in the same field, and Mary, a Bloomsbury Strachey. An Oxford undergraduate who acquired a criminal record along with a PPE degree (he accidentally shot

How did English football get so ugly?

Bill Shankly, the manager of Liverpool FC in the club’s halcyon days of the1960s and 1970s, once said: ‘Football isn’t just a matter of life and death, it’s far more important than that.’ But as David Goldblatt shows in this penetrating study, it was a sport then in apparently terminal decline.The deaths in the next

For Roger Bannister, the four-minute mile was just the start

The title of this reflective and readable memoir refers to the author’s lifetime interests in sport and medicine — tracks which advanced not in parallel but with intersections. Few will be unaware that Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. The image of him breasting the tape scarcely

The vengeance of Alex Ferguson

For a quarter of a century Sir Alex Ferguson bestrode football’s narrow world like a colossus. Like his predecessor knight-manager, Sir Matt Busby, he ensured that it was England’s third city that was home to its top football club. His avowed aim in this reminiscence is to explain ‘some of the mysteries in my line

What makes someone the fastest man on earth?

What makes someone the fastest man on earth? The current tenant of the informal title held by such sporting icons as Jesse Owen and Carl Lewis starts with a version of the pastoral. Here is Usain Bolt as a child of nature, running free in the wilderness near the remote village that was his birthplace

One to admire

The English Bar is no longer immune to the celebrity culture. There are lawyers’ equivalents to Hello! magazine and the Oscars ceremony; lists of the 100 most, top ten, five to follow, proliferate. But peer and public recognition do not always coincide. To that rule Michael (or more usually Mike) Mansfield is a notable exception.

Wit and wisdom | 14 March 2009

Judicial biography is out of fashion: Lord Chancellors apart, the lives of the bewigged great and good are confined within the narrow boundaries of the Dictionary of National Biography. Judicial autobiography is too often driven more by the self-esteem of the authors than the intrinsic interest of the subject. Anthony Lentin convincingly establishes his subject’s

They are made a spectacle unto the world

In four years London will host its third Olympic Games. It is the first time it will have done so as the winner of a competition between bidding cities as fierce – and some say as suspect – as any that take place in the stadium. Before that London was volunteered as a stage only

That sweet city

What do they know of Oxford who only Oxford know? Justin Cartwright, a raw colonial from South Africa, arrived as a prospective law student at Trinity in the mid- Sixties. Now, a prize-winning novelist, he has contributed to a series ‘The Writer and the City’ and succumbed for a second time to charms which he

Oxford needs inspiration

Three days ago I demitted the presidency of Trinity College to which I had been elected exactly 30 years after ceasing to be a short-term college lecturer there. Oxford then, Oxford now? Tempora mutantur, but plus c’est la même chose. Oxford University is an association of independent colleges with a distinctive tutorial system or it

Sharing the pinnacle

One-to-one conflict injects adren- alin into sport. For a period, inevitably finite, a pair of rivals will elevate themselves above their contemporaries, and produce contests which will divide not only cognoscenti, but also the community at large, into two camps. This book is about one of the most magnetic of such contests for primacy waged

Masters of the majors

The game of golf developed in Scotland in the 15th century. This trio of books chronicles the life, times and competition records (blow by blow and, occasionally, hole by hole) of three golfers who on any reckoning rank among its ten greatest exponents of all time. They cover three distinct periods of the 20th century

Diary – 22 October 2004

The reverberations from my HMC conference speech on Oxford admissions have not stilled. With my crème de la crème PA Yvonne, I am chauffeured Sky-wards to be interrogated by Adam Boulton after Oliver Letwin and before Jackie Stewart. Cheerily greeting the demon driver, ‘Good to see you again’, I am stalled by his polite inquiry: