Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William Norman Birkett, 1st Baron Birkett
(William) Norman Birkett, 1st Baron Birkett (September 6, 1883 - February 10, 1962) was a noted British Barrister and judge who served as the alternate British Judge during the Nuremberg trials after World War II.
Norman Birkett was a native of Ulverston near Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge where he became President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1910. He was called to the Bar in 1913 and joined the chambers of the celebrated defence lawyer Edward Marshall Hall . Like Hall, Birkett specialised in criminal defence cases, and in 1934 secured the acquittal of Tony Mancini (alias Jack Notyre) in the celebrated Brighton Trunk Crime No. 2. Mancini had faced overwhelming evidence and many years later admitted his guilt.
Birkett was a Liberal in politics and twice served briefly in Parliament for Nottingham East (which ensured a rapid rise to King's Counsel). He harboured an ambition to serve as Attorney-General but was thwarted by his defeat in the 1931 general election. In 1939 he was picked to head an Advisory Committee to oversee the internment of British citizens under Defence Regulation 18B and in 1941 he was made a Judge of the King's Bench Division.
His experience in 18B cases and other wartime trials led him to be selected over more experienced colleagues to be the British Judge at the Nuremberg Trials. Because of his junior status the initial plan for him to be the leading Judge was revised and he became the deputy to Geoffrey Lawrence. Birkett resented the fact that Lawrence received a peerage after the end of the trials where he did not, although he was appointed to the Privy Council in 1947.
In 1950 Birkett was made a Lord Justice of Appeal. He was also made Chairman of the Court of the University of London from 1946. He retired as a Judge in 1957 as soon as he had served long enough to qualify for a judicial pension, and the next year was given a Peerage as 1st Baron Birkett. During his retirement he was interviewed by John Freeman on Face to Face. On February 8 1962 in the House of Lords he successfully moved to reject a Bill to allow the lake of Ullswater, near his birthplace, to be abstracted for drinking water in Lancashire. He died two days later.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details