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Honorary Graduate's Speech: Mr Tim Brooks, Doctor of Laws (LLD)


Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Mr Tim Brooks was awarded his honorary degree for his contribution to public life in Leicestershire over several decades. Mr Brooks, a JP, has been Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire since 1989 and is a former High Sherriff of the county. He received his honorary degree on Thursday, July 11 during the afternoon degree ceremony. The following is his response after the degree ceremony oration.

Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, my lords, ladies and gentlemen - most especially graduands. As you will appreciate as a totally non-academic 'tiller of the soil', I stand before you humble, but just as today is so special for all of those graduating so it is particularly special for me.

I am delighted to receive this Honorary Doctorate from such a respected University. I am humbled however to think how little I deserve this accolade but regard it as a mark of respect for all those that have assisted me in the role of Lord Lieutenant for the past 13 years, most especially those who work so hard to make Leicester and Leicestershire a better place for all to live and work in - also to those wonderful people who give their time voluntarily for so many charitable courses.

For me, coming as it does in the Queen's Golden Jubilee Year, and close to my retirement I am particularly thrilled. I would like to congratulate all of those graduands here today who have worked so hard over the recent years to achieve your ambition.  I know how much you will owe to your parents and University staff for all our help and support and to your friends who have encouraged you through the tough times and laughed with you through the good ones. Many, many congratulations to you all.

The Public Orator has been generous in his introduction and no doubt added to any skimpy knowledge you may have had of the duties of a Lord Lieutenant. You may have thought that Lord Lieutenants spent their time being entertained at dinners and smoking cigars. This is only part of the truth, as cigars are not one of my own indulgences. However you may have heard of the wealthy man who purchased a very expensive box of two dozen mature Havana cigars for the sum of 24,000 dollars. He thought he should insure them and added them to his household contents policy. He greatly enjoyed smoking them for the next month or so and, when the box was empty, he decided to enter a fire claim against his insurers. They not surprisingly refused to pay but he took them to court and the Judge found to his regret that clearly under the terms of the policy the insurers must pay in full - this in spite of the fact that not even the premium had been paid. However the insurers brought a criminal charge against the man; arson on twenty-four different occasions! The defendant was found guilty on all counts; fined one thousand dollars on each and ordered to pay costs with two years jail in default!        

That strikes a little bell in my mind because I have, Iím pleased to say, my cousin here today - and when I was turning out my Grandfather's house in Lancashire, I came across some old cigars. Being a non-smoker and not realising anything about cigars I thought they must be too old to be any good at all and in turning out everything I put them on the bonfire. Perhaps I might have had a claim, but I knew my cousin was very sad that they went that way.

As Lord Lieutenant and a long-standing Magistrate, my commitment to the demanding role of the voluntary work of Justices of the Peace has been considerable. This has given me some insight into the legal system, though I hesitate to say this in front of newly-inspired and qualified law students as yourselves.

The Lord Chancellor's department appears to enjoy sending directives to the wonderful Magistrates who undertake 95% of criminal of court work in this country in their free time. He expects more of them each year in the course of their work. They are the backbone of our country - long may they continue to bear the strain and be gratefully recognised.

The old adage about the law being an ass is sadly occasionally true - especially so at present when there is so much new legislation inadequately drafted and insufficiently debated. I always feel that lawyers have an unfair advantage if they wish to stand for parliament due to their very professional training ranging from powerful oratory to dulcet persuasion.

They also have enormous responsibilities in using these attributes with honesty and integrity for the good of the country. The excessive litigation inspired from across the Atlantic may earn lawyers a fortune, but monetary compensation can never correct an earlier misfortune or injustice. Coming shortly before the white paper on the criminal justice review I trust that our Lords and Masters will not forget that justice should never be dictated by the financial constraints of the treasury nor by the illusory benefit of centralisation. 

I have no doubt that you will have plenty of areas of work to consider for your future careers, but I sincerely hope that whatever you take on you will really enjoy the direction you choose and that it will bring credit both to you and to the University of Leicester. Many congratulations again, and my very best wishes to you all.

July 2002

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Last updated: 26 July 2002 17:00
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