Fair Trials long time trustee and chair passes

Article by Fair Trials

Fair Trials mourns the loss of Peter Lipscomb, who served as a trustee and chair for more than a decade during a critical period in the organisation’s history.

Fair Trials CEO Normal Reimer noted, “Although I did not have the privilege of meeting Peter, his work to support Fair Trials and advance the causes of human rights and criminal justice reform is legendary. His legacy lives on in the vital work Fair Trials undertakes to promote fairness and justice.”

Fair Trials Founder Stephen K. Jacobi, who had a long friendship with Peter Lipscomb, explained Peter’s pivotal role at Fair Trials:

“Peter Lipscomb OBE, became a trustee of Fair Trials in 1999. From the beginning he was a source of strength and sage advice. Eventually he was to take over the chairmanship of Fair Trials and propelled it to a position of global leadership. As things transpired, Peter Lipscomb remained as Chair for a further decade and, in partnership with then CEO Jago Russell, used his broad spectrum of contacts to move our organisation from a small charity to the major human rights organisation we have now become.

On a personal note, I mourn one of my closest friends for over 25 years, we shared a number of passions together including politics. I already miss him.”

Jago Russell, Former Fair Trials Chief Executive observed,

“As Chair of Fair Trials for over a decade, Peter Lipscomb steered the organisation through a period of major growth and strategic change. He chaired board meetings masterfully, and as Chief Executive, I could not have wished for a kinder, wiser or more generous mentor. Peter’s selfless commitment to resisting the erosion of the rule of law, and to Fair Trials and its employees, was inspiring. It is in large part thanks to him that Fair Trials was able to achieve so much over the past 15 years and that it is in such a strong position to continue its work now for fairness, equality and justice.”

Professor Jon Silverman, Fair Trials Trustee from 2009-2019 said: “Peter was an exemplary chair of trustees, always courteous and consensual at board meetings but with an innate authority which ensured that hard decisions were never ducked. He commanded great respect and his contribution to the geographical expansion of Fair Trials, with a re-alignment towards strategy rather than focusing on casework, was a significant one.”

Nigel Siederer, a former trustee who served with Peter observed: “Peter and I were trustees of Fair Trials at about the same time, though he became Chair while I remained ‘in the ranks’ as an ordinary trustee. He was an excellent Chair, combining the skills of chairing meetings with the guidance of providing leadership without interfering with the chief executive’s management role.  He was one of the best Chairs I have ever come across over several decades of working with boards of trustees.

With his low-key and discreet manner, he brought into the organisation the technical skills that he had developed as a company secretary in the commercial sector.  We had excellent, efficient and effective meetings.  Peter contributed to the organisation’s long-term survival from difficult and unsteady beginnings.”

Anand Doobay, who also served on the board with Peter said: “I learnt an immeasurable amount from the way in which Peter fulfilled his role as Chair. I looked forward to our Board meetings as I knew that they would be inclusive, efficiently run and challenging in terms of content but courteous in tone. Peter would always be thoroughly prepared and would try his utmost to allow us to reach considered and consensual outcomes and he had a self-evident commitment to aims of the organisation. I am very sad to hear that he has passed away and my thoughts are with his family.”

Christopher Bayne, Chair of Trustees from 2000-2007 said: “Peter, you were an amazing support to me when I was Chair of Trustees in the early years of the charity. You were also a very generous donor at a very critical time. Finally you were a wonderful friend. Thank you.”

Sarah De Mas, Deputy Director from 1996-2007 noted: “I was sorry to hear of the passing of Peter Lipscomb who joined the Board of Fair Trials Abroad, as it was then known,  in the early, pioneering days of research and casework.  As member of the Board, his was a steady hand on the tiller at the time when the organisation sailed in choppy waters introducing and promoting new thinking on cross-border justice in justice systems across the European Union and beyond.”

Catherine Wolthuizen, former Fair Trials Chief Executive from 2006-2008 observed: “Peter Lipscomb was a source of calm, wise stewardship through a period of considerable change at Fair Trials. His leadership was crucial to securing the foundations of a revitalised organisation, helping to set it up for expansion and impact. As Chief Executive for part of this journey, I valued his support and counsel and am very sad to hear of his passing. But his legacy endures in the work of Fair Trials, which remains as relevant and vital as it did when he and I worked together.”