Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, judge, 102
From 1960 to 1985, Jeremy Hutchinson, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, who has died aged 102, was the finest silk in practice at the criminal bar.
He defended Lady Chatterley, Fanny Hill and Christine Keeler, George Blake and Brian Roberts, editor of the Daily Telegraph, and later the journalist Duncan Campbell in two cases that led to reform of the Official Secrets Act.
He performed a small miracle in achieving the acquittal of Howard Marks, who later admitted trafficking drugs.
He ended Mary Whitehouse’s attempt in 1982 to prosecute the National Theatre for staging Howard Brenton’s The Romans in Britain.
Born in London into the heart of what became the Bloomsbury group, to successful barrister St John Hutchinson and the model Mary Barnes, who was a close friend of the artist Clive Bell and who had been the model for Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.
He attended Stowe school in Buckinghamshire, and Magdalen College, Oxford, before following his father into practice at the criminal bar.
In 1940 he married the actor Peggy Ashcroft.
Both his career and his marriage were interrupted by war service.
Juggling his pacifism with his hostility to Hitler, he volunteered for noncombatant service in the Royal Navy, and was wireless operator on board HMS Kelly when it was sunk off Crete.
He was rescued after some hours in the water, although not before Peggy, who was then eight months pregnant, was told he had been drowned.
The marriage lasted until 1965, during which time they formed a “power couple” – she the great performer on stage, and he in court.
They gradually grew apart, but he always spoke of the happiness she had brought and her devotion to their two children.
He was contemptuous about the salacious exaggerations in an unauthorised biography of Ashcroft, complaining that contrary to its version of their split: “adultery did not come into it”.
The two remained good friends until her death in 1991.
Shortly after the divorce he married June Osborn, widow of the concert pianist Franz Osborn.
They had met when she had been called for jury service at the Old Bailey.
Jeremy took silk in 1960 and made his first contribution to British history, alongside Gerald Gardiner, in defending Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
It was Jeremy who took defence expert Professor Richard Hoggart through his evidence.
He aroused the ire of the judge when he called Roy Jenkins, the architect of the new Obscene Publications Act, to tell the jury what judges think jurors should never be told – namely, parliament’s intention.
Jenkins started to explain – before being stopped by the judge – that the point of its new “literary merit” defence was to prevent the prosecution of books such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
His wife June died in 2006. Jeremy is survived by his son, Nicholas, and daughter, Eliza.
Lord Hutchinson of Lullington.