A LAWYER who worked on a historic case has spoken about his career in a lecture at the University of Winchester Centre for Information Rights’.

John Clarke was at the West Down campus to talk about his time working on the landmark Victoria Gillick case.

In 1985, he was the solicitor who acted for Victoria Gillick in her bid to stop GPs from prescribing contraception to under-16s. The resulting House of Lords’ decision led to the concept of "Gillick Competence” which is still used in legal cases.

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The lecture took the form of an interview with Jonathan Whettingsteel, a partner at Winchester law firm Dutton Gregory.

Hampshire Chronicle: John Clarke (left) taking with Jonathan WhettingsteelJohn Clarke (left) taking with Jonathan Whettingsteel (Image: University of Winchester)As well as sharing his experiences of the Gillick case, John spoke about his early life and dreams of becoming a 60s pop star before his father persuaded him to follow a career in law.

For most of his long career, John specialised in Criminal and Prison Law and dealt with many clients in maximum security prisons. During his discussion with Jonathan, he recalled the changes he had seen in the legal system, particularly the cuts to Legal Aid.

John comes from a family of lawyers, and he spoke about his great grandfather, Sir Edward Clarke, the barrister who represented Oscar Wilde in his libel action against the Marquess of Queensbury and defended Adelaide Bartlett in the notorious Pimlico Poisoning Mystery.

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Many of John’s stories feature in his recently-published memoir The Law and I - 44 years in Litigation.

Hampshire Chronicle: L-R: Jonathan Whettingsteel, Dr Emma Nottingham and John ClarkeL-R: Jonathan Whettingsteel, Dr Emma Nottingham and John Clarke (Image: University of Winchester)The audience also heard that John had led a double life – as well as his busy legal practice he managed an 18-acre smallholding. 

The lecture was organised by Dr Emma Nottingham, head of the Department of Law at the university, and an expert in bioethics and the rights of children in healthcare, who wrote her doctoral thesis on the Gillick case.

Among John’s hobbies is bookbinding and after speaking, he presented Emma with a bound copy of her thesis.