Obituary: Judge Harry Bennett

Harry Bennett''1987
Harry Bennett''1987

A CLECKHEATON born judge and former Spenborough councillor has died aged 89.

Judge Harry Graham Bennett QC was born into a Methodist family in 1921. He rose through the ranks within the legal profession to become the first circuit judge to preside over a government inquiry into police action in Northern Ireland.

Mr Bennett’s father was a coal merchant and road haulier and had one brother and a sister. He won a West Riding County Scholarship to attend Whitcliffe Mount Grammar School, where he went on to read law at King’s College, London.

He was a passionate music lover and a keen supporter of the Spenborough Musical Society and later, the Friends of Opera North.

Judge Bennett also served in the Royal Artillery from 1943-47 in India, Burma and was part of the occupation army at the end of the Second World War.

He was called to the bar in 1948 at Leeds where he worked on both civil and criminal cases. He sat as deputy chairman of the East Riding Quarter Sessions from 1964-71 and was the Recorder of Doncaster from 1966-68.

Judge Bennett served as a Conservative councillor on the old Spenborough Council from 1957.

He became a Queen’s Council (QC) and the Recorder of York in 1968.

Judge Bennett is probably best remembered for presiding over the inquiry into allegations of brutality against police in Northern Ireland. Several recommendations in the Bennett Report were not implemented, but the introduction of CCTV cameras at police stations is largely down to his findings.

He was also a prominent critic of television violence, which he thought sent the wrong message to people that violence was acceptable.

He is survived by his widow and stepfamily.