John Perry KC

The Chambers of 25 Bedford Row is saddened to announce that John Perry KC passed away on 17th December 2023. John was a stalwart member of Chambers for many years.
Jeremy Dein KC has written a moving tribute which will accord with the views of all that knew him.
John Perry KC was born in a small Jamaican village.  He arrived in the UK in the 1970s working as a court clerk, and later as a lecturer, at LSE. At a time when the Criminal Bar was unthinkably challenging for ethnic minority practitioners, he miraculously secured a tenancy at 2 Crown Office Row, a leading common law set. Amongst its members was a young Tony Blair, to whose wedding John was invited as a friend of the future Prime Minister.

Only John could have left a leading civil set to join a then small and unheralded Chambers, 11 South Square (which has now grown to become 25 Bedford Row). He made that decision in the mid-80s because he wanted to help spearhead our new breed, a pure defence Chambers. He went from the Champions League to non-league overnight, giving up a thriving civil practice. Never once did John profess to regret that move. On the contrary.

John Perry KC was an icon in every way. A tall, handsome man, exuding class and style. A shining intellect with a mammoth knowledge of the criminal law. A superb appellate lawyer, respected and always praised by the then LCJ, Lord Lane. This achievement cannot be overstated bearing in mind the prejudice that characterised the era. But John, through his infinite powers, overcame and conquered.

Those of us lead by John will never forget what we learned, and all the fun that went with it. He could be unpredictable, even irascible, but it was always in a background of courtesy and appreciation. He was, quite simply, a master of his trade, an incredible character, widely liked and highly respected by all. John was chambers first Silk, and First Recorder. He was offered a High Court appointment but turned it down. Classic John. He was, along with Rock, our role model, our inspiration. Simple as that.

At Christmas 1990, a group of us were invited to Jamaica by John. Once there, we witnessed his extraordinarily humble beginnings, and followed his story by touring the beautiful country he loved so much. This was an unforgettable experience, still alive in the memory as if it was yesterday. Thanks to John for that trip, and for decades of precious memories. John Perry KC made a huge and unique contribution to the evolution of 25 Bedford Row. He was fundamental to the development of our ethos, and his courage, dignity, intellect, humour and sheer class will never be forgotten. He was a one off, and it was a genuine privilege to have known and learned from the great John Perry KC.

He will be much missed by everyone at 25 Bedford Row.


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