Senior Widgery lawyer Basil Hall dies

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One of the top lawyers at the original inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday has died.

Sir Basil Hall, who was Solicitor to the Widgery Inquiry, passed away in Epsom, Surrey, earlier this month. He was aged 93.

When the decision was taken to set up the now discredited Widgery Inquiry in 1972, Hall had just been appointed to a top job in the Treasury Solicitor’s Department - the largest provider of legal services to the British government.

As part of his role for Widgery, Hall took statements from witnesses including civilians, police and soldiers - including members of the Parachute Regiment.

In his written evidence to the Saville Inquiry, Hall insisted he had “no interest or wish” to protect the Army against any allegations made during the course of the 1972 hearings.

He told Lord Saville: “At no time did I receive any instruction, order or indication from the Tribunal, Counsel or any other person associated with the Inquiry that I should seek to take statements or gather evidence in such a way as to protect the interests of the Army.

“I reject any suggestion that the members of the Treasury Solicitor’s Inquiry team were in any way biased or prejudiced in favour of the Ministry of Defence or were subject to any improper pressure from interests outside the Inquiry.

“I have no reason to believe that any member of the team acted in such a way and I should have taken a very serious view had I been aware of any such thing.”

In 1975, Basil Hall was appointed Procurator General and Treasury Solicitor, becoming also responsible for career planning of members of the legal Civil Service generally.

Although in that post much of his time was spent in administration, he continued to play an active role in the business of his department.

He was appointed CB in 1974, raised to KCB in 1976.

He retired in 1980 but continued to be extremely active. He acted as deputy chairman and then chairman of the Civil Service Appeal Board from 1981 to 1984 and from 1981 to 1992 he was legal adviser to the newly formed Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

He had been asked on his retirement in 1980 whether he would like to be considered for an appointment as a member of the European Commission on Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The opportunity did not come until 1985, however, and he served as a member until 1993.

He had a keen interest in military history - he served with an armoured car regiment during World War II - and was appointed a member of the council of the National Army Museum from 1981 to 1992. Thereafter he continued to be a trustee of the museum’s development trust.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, along with their two sons and one daughter.