Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Nicholas Crichton CBE, LLB (died December 16, 2018, aged 75)

Extract from obituary on the Brits in Kenya website

Nicholas Crichton, a former teacher in Kenya at Pembroke House School and the district judge who helped the most vulnerable families in the country by founding the UK’s first family drug and alcohol court, has died of lung cancer aged 75.

He was one of the most influential family judges of his generation and a pioneer of the specialist family drug and alcohol courts that have transformed the chances of keeping together families where one or both parents have addiction issues.

Born in 1943 in Buckinghamshire, Nicholas was the younger son of film director Charles Crichton, best known for comedies such as The Lavender Hill Mob and A Fish Called Wanda, and dancer Vera Crichton.

After excelling as a wicketkeeper and a fly half in rugby at Haileybury & Imperial Service College near Hertford, his headmaster encouraged him to study law at Queen’s University Belfast.

Qualifying as a solicitor in 1970, he joined Nicholls, Christie & Crocker in 1972 because he wanted to practise criminal law, becoming a partner in the firm two years later.

He met his wife, Ann Jackson, on a blind date and they married in 1973 before settling in Penn, Buckinghamshire where their two sons - Simon and Ian - were born. The couple divorced in 2008.

Establishing his reputation in crime and child care proceedings, largely supported by legal aid, his most high-profile case came when he was instructed on behalf of Metropolitan Police SPG officers during the 1979 inquest into the death of the anti-racism campaigner and activist Blair Peach.

In 1986, Crichton was appointed as a metropolitan stipendiary magistrate (now district judge) and became the first in the country to deal solely with family law cases.

He helped to set up the Inner London and City family proceedings court, the first magistrates’ court designated to deal only with family cases; Crichton remained there as resident judge until his retirement in 2014.

He was a member of the Family Justice Council from 2004-14 and received awards for outstanding achievements at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year ceremony in 2011 and for his outstanding contribution to family law at the Family Law Awards.

As well as being trustee of the Pause Project, a voluntary programme set up in 2013 for women who have experienced, or are at risk of, repeat removals of children from their care, Crichton was named the Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year in 2014, two years after being appointed CBE. He also became involved in similar projects around the world.

He was also a trustee of the JK Rowling founded charity Lumos, which aims to get children around the world out of institutions and settled into families.

Away from his work, Crichton directed his natural empathy and energy both to his family and the community. He was a life member of Penn & Tylers Green Cricket Club.

Shortly before his 69th birthday in September 2012, he met widow Jane Maskell, who had lost her husband to cancer. They were married two years later.

Nicholas is survived by his second wife, Jane Maskell; by his two sons, Simon and Ian, from his first marriage; and by five grandchildren.

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