George Carman
George Alfred Carman, QC
Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel , known as King's Counsel during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law...

 (6 October 1929 - 2 January 2001), was a leading English barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 of the 1980s and 1990s. He first came to the attention of the general public in 1979, when he successfully defended the former Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 leader Jeremy Thorpe
Jeremy Thorpe
John Jeremy Thorpe is a British former politician who was leader of the Liberal Party from 1967 to 1976 and was the Member of Parliament for North Devon from 1959 to 1979. His political career was damaged when an acquaintance, Norman Scott, claimed to have had a love affair with Thorpe at a time...

 after he was charged with conspiracy to murder. Carman had been appointed as a Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel , known as King's Counsel during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law...

 (QC) eight years previously.

Early life

Carman was born in Blackpool, the son of Alfred George and Evelyn Carman. His father owned a furniture business and his mother was in fashion. He attended St Joseph's College in Blackpool and a Roman Catholic Seminary
A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...

 - St Joseph's College, Upholland
St Joseph's College, Upholland
St Joseph's College, Upholland is a Former Roman Catholic seminary, situated at Walthew Park, Upholland, Lancashire, England. The foundation of the large building was laid in April 1880 and college was opened in 1883...

 - where he trained as a priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

. Carman went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford
Balliol College, Oxford
Balliol College , founded in 1263, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England but founded by a family with strong Scottish connections....

, graduating in 1952 with a first-class honours degree in jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

 (law). Called to the Bar in 1953, he practised as a barrister on the Northern Circuit
Northern Circuit
The Northern Circuit dates from 1176 when Henry II sent his judges on circuit to do justice in his name. The Circuit encompassed the whole of the North of England but in 1876 it was divided. That part to the west of the Pennines retained the old name. The land to the east became the territory of...

 in Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, doing mostly criminal and personal injury
Personal injury
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. The term is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff's injury has been caused by the negligence of another, but also arises in defamation...



After successfully defending in 1979 the former Leader of the Liberal Party Jeremy Thorpe who was charged with conspiracy to murder in a case which became the cause célèbre
Cause célèbre
A is an issue or incident arousing widespread controversy, outside campaigning and heated public debate. The term is particularly used in connection with celebrated legal cases. It is a French phrase in common English use...

 of the decade, he became involved in a number of significant criminal trials during the 1980s. During this time he developed a close working relationship with solicitor Sir David Napley
David Napley
Sir David Napley was a famous and influential solicitor in England.-Background:Sir David Napley was born in London of Jewish ancestry. He began his articles in 1935 at the age of only 16...

, with whom he worked on a number of cases, including the Jeremy Thorpe trial. In 1981 he defended Dr Leonard Arthur
Leonard Arthur
Dr Leonard John Henry Arthur MB, BChir, MRCP, D Obst RCOG was a British doctor tried in 1981 for the attempted murder of John Pearson, a newborn child with Down's Syndrome. He was acquitted....

, which he would later see as his proudest moment. He later said of this doctor who had been accused of murdering a Down's syndrome baby: "He was a very dedicated doctor and clearly a kind and moral man who had done much good for thousands of mothers in this country - hundreds of whom wrote to him and sent flowers during the trial. His acquittal by the jury, very quickly, is the moment in my career which has given me the greatest pleasure."

In 1983 he represented the family of Roberto Calvi
Roberto Calvi
Roberto Calvi was an Italian banker dubbed "God's Banker" by the press because of his close association with the Holy See. A native of Milan, Calvi was Chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed in one of modern Italy's biggest political scandals...

 at the second inquest into his death. The original verdict of suicide being overturned by an open verdict.

In 1989, he successfully defended the British comedian Ken Dodd
Ken Dodd
Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE is a British comedian and singer songwriter, famous for his frizzy hair or “fluff dom” and buck teeth or “denchers”, his favourite cleaner, the feather duster and his greeting "How tickled I am!", as well as his send-off “Lots and Lots of Happiness!”...

 on charges of tax evasion
Tax evasion
Tax evasion is the general term for efforts by individuals, corporations, trusts and other entities to evade taxes by illegal means. Tax evasion usually entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting or concealing the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability,...

. During the 1990s, he appeared in many prominent libel trials on behalf of British newspapers, including the successful defence of The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

against a libel case brought by the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 politician, Jonathan Aitken
Jonathan Aitken
Jonathan William Patrick Aitken is a former Conservative Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, and British government minister. He was convicted of perjury in 1999 and received an 18-month prison sentence, of which he served seven months...

. He became known for his celebrity clients, attracting headlines for his robust cross-examination
In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one's opponent. It is preceded by direct examination and may be followed by a redirect .- Variations by Jurisdiction :In...

, colourful one-liners in court and for winning difficult cases against seemingly insurmountable odds. When called back to Manchester in 1991 to save the legendary Haçienda
The Haçienda
Fac 51 Haçienda was a nightclub and music venue in Manchester, England. It became most famous during the "Madchester" years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the 1990s it was labelled the most famous club in the world by Newsweek magazine...

 nightclub from the threat of police closure he soon found the problem: the proclamations of owner Tony Wilson
Tony Wilson
Anthony Howard Wilson, commonly known as Tony Wilson , was an English record label owner, radio presenter, TV show host, nightclub manager, impresario and journalist for Granada Television and the BBC....

. It was reported that his opening advice was "Gentlemen, shut that loudmouth up!"

Carman's reputation was built through representing The News of the World against Sonia Sutcliffe, Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

 against GTech and Mohamed Al-Fayed
Mohamed Al-Fayed
Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al-Fayed is an Egyptian businessman and billionaire. Amongst his business interests are ownership of the English Premiership football team Fulham Football Club, Hôtel Ritz Paris and formerly Harrods Department Store, Knightsbridge...

 against Neil Hamilton
Neil Hamilton (politician)
Mostyn Neil Hamilton is a former British barrister, teacher and Conservative MP. Since losing his seat in 1997 and leaving politics, Hamilton and his wife Christine have become media celebrities...

. As well as his representation of Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 when they were sued for libel by South African journalist, Jani Allan
Jani Allan
Jani Allan is a South African columnist and radio commentator. She became a household name as a columnist for the Sunday Times where she worked between 1979-90. She is also known for her alleged affair with an interviewee, the late right-wing political leader Eugène Terre'Blanche...

. Carman recognised that the case had "international, social, political and cultural implications."

Carman was head of chambers of New Court, Temple before leaving to go to 4-5 Grays Inn Square in 2000 for the last few months of his career. He died of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. The cancer cells may metastasize from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly...

 on 2 January 2001, in Merton
London Borough of Merton
The London Borough of Merton is a borough in southwest London, England.The borough was formed under the London Government Act in 1965 by the merger of the Municipal Borough of Mitcham, the Municipal Borough of Wimbledon and the Merton and Morden Urban District, all formerly within Surrey...

 in south west London.

Get Carman

In April 2002, the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 broadcast the biographical
Biographical film
A biographical film, or biopic , is a film that dramatizes the life of an actual person or people. They differ from films “based on a true story” or “historical films” in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their...

Drama film
A drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, class divisions, violence against women...

 Get Carman: The Trials of George Carman QC starring David Suchet
David Suchet
David Suchet, CBE, is an English actor, known for his work on British television. He is recognised for his RTS- and BPG award-winning performance as Augustus Melmotte in the 2001 British TV mini-drama The Way We Live Now, alongside Matthew Macfadyen and Paloma Baeza, and a 1991 British Academy...

 as Carman, Lisa Maxwell
Lisa Maxwell (actress)
Lisa Maxwell is an English actress and television presenter.-Early life:Born in the Elephant & Castle district of Southwark, South London in November 1963, she was trained at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, and first acted on TV aged 11 in a schools programme A Place Like Home...

 as Gillian Taylforth
Gillian Taylforth
Gillian Taylforth is an English actress. She is best known for her roles as Kathy Mitchell on the BBC soap opera, EastEnders and as Jackie Pascoe-Webb on ITV's Footballers Wives , but more recently as Sgt. Nikki Wright in ITV's The Bill...

, Douglas Reith as Jonathan Aitken and Sarah Berger as Jani Allan
Jani Allan
Jani Allan is a South African columnist and radio commentator. She became a household name as a columnist for the Sunday Times where she worked between 1979-90. She is also known for her alleged affair with an interviewee, the late right-wing political leader Eugène Terre'Blanche...


Personal life

Carman was married and divorced three times. He married Ursula Groves in 1955, then married Cecilia Sparrow in 1960, with whom he had one son, Dominic. Their marriage was dissolved in 1976, when he married Frances Venning, and that marriage was also dissolved, in 1984.

His son Dominic wrote the controversial biography No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman in 2002 and stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in Barking
Barking (UK Parliament constituency)
Barking is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election. It has elected Labour MPs since its creation in 1945, usually with strong majorities.- Boundaries :The...

 for the 2010 General election.

External links

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