Radcliffe Chambers is sad to mark the passing of a much-loved former head of chambers, Roger Cooke. Roger had a heavy practice in the core private client and property areas of chambers, specialising particularly in probate actions. His cross-examination in Re Simpson, where the deceased had been the renowned Home Office pathologist, destroyed the widow’s claim to establish his last Will. But it was as a judge that he had his greatest impact.
Probably the only judge to sit regularly in the Chancery Division who had neither taken silk nor been the treasury devil, he excelled in finding the underlying, human truth in the cases he judged. No chancery point was too tricky for him, but he also loved sitting in crime. He was admired equally by court users, clerks, ushers and lawyers for his easy manner. He had the delightful habit of setting out early in a trial, a succinct exposition what he thought the law was, and was not averse to doing the same with the expert evidence. He was even kind enough to keep a purple pen on his desk in case counsel needed to re-re-re-re-amend his pleadings.
Out of court and chambers, he rejoiced in his marvellous family and had a deep and general knowledge of history rarely seen outside academia. Our thoughts are with Hilary and his children.
Roger’s funeral will take place at St Paul’s Chichester at 2pm on 9th July.