Alex Ruck Keene of 39 Essex Chambers shares a personal appreciation of Alastair Pitblado, the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee, who died on 24 June 2018.
I last saw Alastair in the Supreme Court at the hearing of his appeal (on behalf of the patient) in the Y case. He was very sick with the illness that ultimately took him, but the fact that he had come almost directly from his hospital bed to attend the hearing was perfectly characteristic of him.
Alastair was absolutely tenacious in pursuit of the protection of the rights of those on whose behalf he acted as Official Solicitor, and in defending the systems established for their protection. I hope he would have appreciated the irony that two days after his death the Strasbourg court delivered a judgment making clear just how right he had been in Re X to insist on the importance of the participation in proceedings of those being deprived of their liberty.
I did not always agree with Alastair, and indeed vividly recall giving a talk at a conference about why he was wrong on a point, with him in the front row giving me that characteristically quizzical look that meant there was a lot he could say but was holding back (for the time being).
But there was no doubting the care that Alastair took – and instilled in all those under him to take – to ensure all the complexities had been considered before deciding what call to make on behalf of any individual P. No one could ask more of someone bearing such responsibilities and we owe him a huge debt of thanks.