Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sir Peter Williams

I see Sir Peter Williams has died.

I've been watching his journey with prostate cancer for some time. I got diagnosed a couple of years earlier than him. We're almost exactly the same age. We've had a similar journey for quite a few years. And, in different ways, we have tried to be people who would made some kind of contribution to society. But our lives crossed only once.

It was half a century ago. We shared an illegally fast trip to Auckland airport in his car to meet a member of my church who was to be a client of his for the next couple of years. There was a problem involving an iron bar and the head of an off-duty detective. Peter called me as a character witness in the Court case. Both relatively young and early in our respective careers, we developed an immediate respect for each other. 

We never met again. But his passing touches me today. I followed with great interest his work with the Howard League and passion for prison reform. I received his book for Christmas and enjoyed his account of the cases he selected (yes, the one I was involved in was not on his list as particularly memorable). But most of all I was simply moved by his philosophy of human nature and his motivation to remain on the side of defence throughout his professional career. 

An extraordinary man. 

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