Michael Havers: Wikis

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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Havers 

In office
13 June 1987 – 26 October 1987
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone
Succeeded by The Lord Mackay of Clashfern

Born 10 March 1923 (1923-03-10)
Died 1 April 1992 (1992-05)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative

Robert Michael Oldfield Havers, Baron Havers PC, QC (10 March 1923 – 1 April 1992) was a British barrister and Conservative politician. From his knighthood in 1972 until becoming a peer in 1987 he was known as Sir Michael Havers.


Early life

Havers was a son of High Court Judge Sir Cecil Havers and brother of Baroness Butler-Sloss (born 1933) who in 1988 became the first woman named to the Court of Appeal and later President of the Family Division.


Havers was educated at Westminster School, and after war service in the Royal Navy, at Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge.

Political and legal career

Havers was named a Queen's Counsel in 1964 and became a member of the Privy Council in 1977. He was elected to the House of Commons representing Wimbledon in 1970, a seat he held until 1987. He served as Solicitor General under Edward Heath from 1972 to 1974, and as Attorney-General for England and Wales and Northern Ireland from 1979 to 1987 under Margaret Thatcher. In June 1987 he was appointed Lord Chancellor and consequently became a life peer as Baron Havers, of St Edmundsbury in the County of Suffolk. However, he was forced to resign that October, due to ill health.

Role in the Guildford Four and Maguire Family miscarriages of justice

Havers represented the Crown in two of the most notable miscarriages of justice in British judicial history[1]: the trial and appeal of the Guildford Four and also of the Maguire family (known as the Maguire Seven), all of whom were wrongfully convicted. Collectively, they served a total of 113 years in prison and one of the Maguire Seven, Giuseppe Conlon, died in prison, convicted on the basis of discredited forensic evidence[2].

In the case of the Guildford Four, the Director of Public Prosecutions was found to have suppressed alibi evidence[3] that supported Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill’s claims of innocence. The Director of Public Prosecutions, for which Havers was acting, was also found to have suppressed confessions by Provisional IRA bombers, know as the Balcombe Street Gang that they had carried out the Guildford and Woolwich bombings.

In his submission to Sir John May's Inquiry into the Guildford and Woolwich bombings in 1989 Labour MP Chris Mullins cast doubt on Havers’s integrity in the matter[4]:

Sir Michael Havers represented the Crown at the trials of the Guildford Four, Mrs. Maguire and her family and at the re-trial/appeal of the Guildford Four. He is, therefore, probably the person who can lay claim to the most detailed knowledge of this affair. I respectfully submit that any inquiry that passed without the benefit of his experience would be deficient….
The only hope of sustaining the original convictions was to rewrite the script from top to bottom. This Sir Michael and his colleagues proceeded to do with ingenuity and relish.


His sons are the Honourable Philip Havers, QC and the actor, the Honourable Nigel Havers.

In popular culture

Havers was portrayed by Peter Blythe in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's controversial The Falklands Play.


  1. ^ Guardian: After 16 years of waiting, an apology at last for the Guildford Four[1]
  2. ^ New Scientist: Faulty forensic testing convicted Maguire Seven [2]
  3. ^ New York Times Letter: Sins of the Guildford Four Prosecution[3]
  4. ^ Evidence to Sir John May's Inquiry into the Guildford and Woolwich bombings - 1989[4]

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Cyril Black
Member of Parliament for Wimbledon
Succeeded by
Charles Goodson-Wickes
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Howe
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Peter Archer
Preceded by
Samuel Silkin
Attorney General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Mayhew
Preceded by
Samuel Silkin
Attorney General for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Mayhew
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Mackay of Clashfern

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