William Macpherson

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Person.png Sir William Macpherson   SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
William Macpherson.jpg
Born1 April 1926
Blairgowrie, Scotland
Died14 February 2021 (Age 94)
Alma materWellington College, Trinity College (Oxford)
SpouseSheila McDonald Brodie

Sir William Macpherson of Cluny led the public inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence from 1997 to 1999.[1] Other cases include acquitting three former police detectives of lying over evidence against Patrick Armstrong, a member of the Guilford Four.


From 1944 to 1947, he served as a captain in the Scots Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army.[2] He was a member of the 21st Special Air Service Regiment of the British Territorial Army. During his time there he was deployed in Denmark, France, and Norway as a part of the deployment exercises. He would go on to be the commanding officer of the regiment between 1962 and 1965, and later serve as an honorary colonel between 1983 and 1991.[3][2]

Macpherson started his law career, when he was called to the bar in 1952.[2] He would go on to practise as a common law barrister. He was appointed the recorder of the Crown Court in 1972 and was appointed to the Queen's Bench, as a judge in the High Court in 1983.[4] He was knighted in the same year.[5] He was the presiding judge of the Northern Circuit between 1984 and 1988.[3] He retired in 1996.[4]


Through his legal career, Macpherson was involved in numerous important cases, including the 1993 trial at Old Bailey acquitting three ex-detectives of lying over evidence against Patrick Armstrong, a member of the Guilford Four.

He presided over the case which resulted in paying[Why?] an undisclosed sum of damages from a British newspaper to British journalist Kate Adie "over allegations of sympathetic coverage[How?] toward Colonel Gadaffi as a part of her coverage of the 1986 United States bombing of Libya".[6]

He also handled the case that resulted in the conviction of the serial child murderer Robert Black in 1994.[4][3]

In 1991, Macpherson was appointed honorary fellow at Trinity College, Oxford. He was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's ceremonial guard in Scotland.

In 1997, Macpherson was appointed head of the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which led to the Macpherson report.

Full article: Macpherson Inquiry