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October 13, 2011

Freedom Under the Law

By Judge Colin Colston - QC

Magna Carta Lecture

This series of lectures might have been sub-titled “Four Professors and a Common Lawyer”: you have had four professors; I hope you will not feel that this is the funeral.

1. In 1765 Blackstone described Magna Carta as “the Great Charter of Liberties, which was obtained, sword in hand, from King John”. As Macaulay might have said: “Every schoolboy knows” that the date of Magna Carta is 15 June 1215 and the place Runnymede. But I suspect that only a small part of today’s population knows much about the events in the early part of the 13th Century which led up to it. Until the last few months I confess that I would have been hard pressed to tell a Hertfordshire jury, here in St Albans, anything worthwhile about it.

2. For that reason, before I turn to look with you at some of the Chapters in Magna Carta, I want to digress to try and put those momentous days of June 1215 in some kind of setting. As a mere common lawyer I ask the indulgence of the academics and historians among you if you do so with a broad brush.

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Freedom Under the Law



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