Mem­oirs of a city solic­i­tor

IN an of­ten con­tro­ver­sial 25-year ca­reer as a High Street lawyer Roger Ter­rell has rep­re­sented clients charged with the most se­ri­ous head­line-grab­bing of­fences of mur­der and be­ing a mem­ber of the IRA and dealt with triv­ial quib­bles over fam­ily pets. He ha

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News -

HE’S been in­volved in a high pro­file mur­der case, dealt with a man caught up in an IRA bomb plot and been chair­man of Peter­bor­ough United and that’s just the tip of the ice­berg.

Roger Ter­rell be­lieves his life as a High Street solic­i­tor has been far from dull and he has now put his ex­pe­ri­ences of a quar­ter of a cen­tury work­ing within the law down on pa­per in his mem­oir An Un­usual Brief.

The book re­veals that there has been much more to the 58-year-olds’ ca­reer than the di­vorce set­tle­ments, wills and pro­bate, con­veyanc­ing, petty crim­i­nal mat­ters and per­sonal in­jury cases that have been his bread and but­ter,

One of his most all-con­sum­ing cases was a shock­ing crime which rocked the vil­lage of Uff­in­g­ton, sev­eral miles from Roger Ter­rell’s of­fice in Lin­coln Road, Peter­bor­ough, in Oc­to­ber 1999.

A woman’s body had been found float­ing fully clothed in the swim­ming pool of her lux­ury home and Roger was asked to rep­re­sent the hus­band, who was sus­pected of ar­rang­ing her mur­der. His best man was charged with mur­der and claimed he had been of­fered £20,000 by the hus­band to carry out the crime.

The trial that fol­lowed was at the cen­tre of a me­dia cir­cus and the court case was on the front page of many of the na­tional news­pa­pers.

The best man was even­tu­ally given a life sen­tence and the hus­band cleared in July 2000.

It may have been the most dra­matic in­ci­dent of his le­gal ca­reer but it wasn’t the first time Roger had been thrust into the lime­light.

In 1995, he stood on the steps of the High Court in London to read a state­ment af­ter his client Barry Daniels had been awarded £200,000 in com­pen­sa­tion over the Post Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der he de­vel­oped fol­low­ing an ex­plo­sion at Le Maitre Fire­works Ltd in Fen­gate, Peter­bor­ough, where he was the man­ager.

“We acted for a man who was not phys­i­cally in­jured but one man was killed and although Barry did not wit­ness the death of his col­league Michael Dar­roch he searched the de­bris and found his body,” said Roger.

“The com­pen­sa­tion did not im­prove Barry’s life and he was the same as all peo­ple I have acted for who have re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion.

“He said to me, ‘Thanks Roger, but I would give all the com­pen­sa­tion back to be as I was be­fore the ac­ci­dent’.”

There was more na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion when Roger got in­volved in the case of city taxi driver Shabir Khan, who was an in­no­cent by­stander in the events that led up to the IRA bomb­ing of the Arn­dale Cen­tre in Cen­tral Manch­ester in June 1996.

Shabir Khan had been wait­ing at the taxi rank out­side Tesco’s in Broad­way, Peter­bor­ough when he was ap­proached by a man with an Ir­ish ac­cent. The man gave him the £5 fare and asked him to de­liver a pack­age to a trav­ellers’ site in Eye.

Shabir thought noth­ing of it, did the er­rand and then got on with his job.

But he later found him­self ar­rested and ques­tioned at Thorpe Wood Po­lice Sta­tion by Manch­ester Po­lice and Spe­cial Branch of­fi­cers in con­nec­tion with the IRA bomb­ing.

“It later tran­spired that the pack­age con­tained £2,000 in cash to pay for a Ford cargo lorry,” said Roger.

“This was later col­lected from a yard in Fen­gate, Peter­bor­ough, by an un­known per­son, but now known to be act­ing on be­half of the IRA, driven up to Manch­ester, packed with home-made ex­plo­sives, parked in the Arn­dale Cen­tre in Cen­tral Manch­ester and sub­se­quently det­o­nated caus­ing mas­sive destruc­tion and in­jury.”

Shabir was ini­tially a sus­pect but it soon be­came clear he was in­no­cent.

Roger later ven­tured into new ter­ri­tory to help Shabir sell his story to Sun­day tabloid The Peo­ple for a five fig­ure sum.

Roger had de­cided on a le­gal ca­reer af­ter he re­alised that some loftier am­bi­tions were be­yond his reach.

“I was 17 or 18 years old and I didn’t know what I wanted to do if I wasn’t go­ing to play pro­fes­sional foot­ball or cricket,” he said.

Roger had grown up in Yax­ley, went to Or­ton Longueville School in Peter­bor­ough and rep­re­sented Hunt­ing­don­shire play­ing foot­ball and cricket.

He stud­ied law at Not­ting­ham Trent Univer­sity and his first job was in the le­gal depart­ment of Not­ting­ham County Coun­cil. Hav­ing qual­i­fied, he worked for Dal­tons in Lin­coln Road, Peter­bor­ough be­fore se­cur­ing a job as com­pany solic­i­tor for en­gi­neer­ing com­pany Baker Perkins.

The job in­volved deal­ing with all le­gal as­pects of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, known through­out Peter­bor­ough for their work sup­ply­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing bis­cuit mak­ing and bak­ery equip­ment and print­ing presses. Roger’s job took him all over the world. On one oc­ca­sion he was told to fly out to Lagos in Nige­ria to sort

out a le­gal mat­ter.

It proved to be an event­ful jour­ney with Roger and his taxi driver be­ing stopped at an un­of­fi­cial road­block on the way from the air­port where they were threat­ened by men in po­lice uni­forms car­ry­ing semi-au­to­matic weapons and ask­ing for the equiv­a­lent of £10 in the lo­cal cur­rency.

Thank­fully Roger lived to tell the tale.

When Baker Perkins was sold in 1988, Roger de­cided it was time to set up on his own.

“I de­cided to re­sign from my safe, se­cure, pen­sion­able em­ploy­ment with pri­vate health in­sur­ance and a com­pany car and set off on the jour­ney of self-em­ploy­ment and all the in­her­ent risks of un­cer­tainty,” he said.

Roger Ter­rell & Co So­lic­i­tors opened in Park Road in May, 1988 with just two mem­bers of staff. He now has 25 peo­ple work­ing for him and has been at premises in Lin­coln Road since 1995.

Along­side the nor­mal le­gal mat­ters, he has found him­self in Pak­istan vis­it­ing the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sion in Islamabad to sort out an im­mi­gra­tion prob­lem at the be­hest of a waiter in his favourite In­dian res­tau­rant in Peter­bor­ough.

He also had to deal with the af­ter­math of a wed­ding re­cep­tion where the bride­groom had spent the night in the cells at Thorpe Wood Po­lice Sta­tion af­ter an al­ter­ca­tion with his wife and mem­bers of her fam­ily.

Roger has dis­cov­ered that di­vorce cases of­ten come down to triv­i­al­i­ties such as who gets cus­tody of the fam­ily pet.

“Some se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial mat­ters are put to one side while peo­ple are ar­gu­ing over a cat or dog,” he said.

In one of the most mem­o­rable mar­i­tal bat­tles in Roger’s book, the hus­band had a sub­stan­tial pen­sion but his wife said he could have it all if she could have their pet par­rot.

Un­for­tu­nately he had given the bird away and the dev­as­tated wife had to grudg­ingly ac­cept that there was noth­ing that could be done.

A LAW UNTO HIM­SELF: Roger launch­ing his book about life as a High Street solic­i­tor.

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