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Geoffrey Robertson

At the 2009 Ideas Festival, Brisbane
Born Geoffrey Ronald Robertson
30 September 1946 (1946-09-30) (age 63)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Residence England
Occupation Lawyer
Employer Doughty Street Chambers
Title QC; Recorder
Spouse(s) Kathy Lette
Children 2
Geoffrey Robertson website

Geoffrey Ronald Robertson QC (born 30 September 1946 in Sydney, New South Wales) is an Australian born human rights lawyer, academic, author and broadcaster. He holds dual Australian and British citizenship.

Geoffrey Robertson is the founder and head of Doughty Street Chambers[1]. He serves as a Master of the Bench at the Middle Temple, a recorder and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London.



Geoffrey Robertson was born in Australia and grew up in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood, attending Epping Boys' High School. He obtained his law degree from the Sydney Law School before winning a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Law. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Sydney.[2]

Robertson married author Kathy Lette in 1990 and currently lives with her and their two children in London. They had met in 1988 during the filming of a Hypothetical episode for ABC Television; Robertson was going out with Nigella Lawson at the time and Lette was married to Kim Williams, today CEO of Foxtel.[3]

Legal career

Robertson became a barrister in 1973. He became a QC in 1988. His became well known acting for the defence in the celebrated English criminal trials of Oz, Gay News, the ABC Trial, The Romans in Britain (the prosecution brought by Mary Whitehouse), Randle & Pottle, the Brighton bombing and Matrix Churchill. He has also acted in well known libel cases, including defending the Guardian against Neil Hamilton MP. Robertson was threatened by terrorists for representing Salman Rushdie.[4] He has appeared in civil liberties cases before the European Court of Human Rights and in other courts across the world. He sat as an appeal judge at the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone until 2007. He is a patron of the Media Legal Defence Initiative.

Media career

Over a twenty year period, often with long intervals in between, Robertson has hosted an Australian television series of programmes called Geoffrey Robertson's Hypotheticals. These shows invite notable people, often including former and current political leaders, to discuss contemporary issues by assuming imagined identities in hypothetical situations.

Writing career

Robertson has written several books. One of them, The Justice Game is on the school curriculum in New South Wales, Australia.

His 2007 book The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man Who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold details the story of John Cooke, who prosecuted King Charles I of England in the treason trial that led to his execution. After the Restoration, Cooke was convicted of high treason and hanged, drawn and quartered.

In his 2006 revision of Crimes Against Humanity, Robertson deals in detail with human rights, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The book starts with the history of human rights and has several case studies such as the case of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, the Balkans wars, and the 2003 Iraq War. His views on the United States' atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan can be considered controversial. He considers the Hiroshima bomb was certainly justified, and that the second bomb on Nagasaki was most probably justified but might have been better if it was dropped outside a city. His argument is that the bombs, while killing more than 100,000 civilians, were justified because they pushed Emperor Hirohito of Japan to surrender, thus saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of allied forces, as well as Japanese soldiers and civilians.


  • Was there an Armenian Genocide? (online), Doughty Street Chambers, October 2009, ISBN 9780956408600
  • The Statute of Liberty, Vintage Books Australia, March 2009, ISBN 9781741666823
  • Media Law (with Andrew Nicol QC), Sweet & Maxwell, fifth edition, 2008
  • The Tyrannicide Brief, Chatto & Windus, 2005
  • Crimes Against Humanity — The Struggle for Global Justice, Alan Lane, 1999; revised 2002 (Penguin paperback) and 2006
  • The Justice Game, 1998 Chatto; Viking edition 1999
  • Freedom the Individual and the Law, Penguin, 1993 (7th ed)
  • Geoffrey Robertson's Hypotheticals — A New Collection, ABC, 1991
  • Does Dracula Have Aids?, Angus & Robertson, 1987
  • Geoffrey Robertson's Hypotheticals, Angus and Robertson, 1986
  • People Against the Press, Quartet, 1983
  • Obscenity, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979
  • Reluctant Judas, Temple-Smith, 1976


External links



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