Master Pat Edwards, who has died of acute myeloid leukaemia, was a distinguished government lawyer who in retirement was one of the most supportive and hardworking Benchers of this Inn. One of her last visits to the Inn was to attend the opening of the Women in Law exhibition in which she featured.
Patricia Anne Edwards was born on Monday 29 May 1944, the daughter of Marion and Maurice Edwards, a marine surveyor. She spent her childhood in Wales until 1958 when the family moved to London. Following a state school education, she read law at King’s College London from 1962 to 1965, the first in her family to attend university. She had no family connections with the law and no one, including Pat herself, knew quite what sparked the aspiration to become a lawyer. After studying for Bar Final exams by correspondence course while working full-time, she was Called to the Bar on Tuesday 18 July 1967; she was awarded the Chrystal Macmillan Prize by Middle Temple for being the woman member with the highest marks in her finals that year.
Pat did not do a pupillage in chambers. In those days it was quite common to go straight from Call into employment as a barrister. Pat had worked at the Criminal Appeal Office, which supported judges of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), while doing Bar Finals, and stayed there as a qualified lawyer for a further seven years, latterly as Deputy Assistant Registrar. In 1974, she secured a post in the Law Officers’ Department – a highly unusual move which reflected how well Pat was thought of, rather than being recruited directly its legal staff were seconded from the government legal service and at a more senior level. One of the things she did there was to be joint secretary to a public inquiry, another unusual opportunity for a junior lawyer. In 1977 she moved to the Home Office where she was to stay until 1994. There Pat did the more conventional work of a government lawyer, drafting legislation, advising on issues from immigration to dangerous dogs, negotiating international treaties and getting involved in litigation in the ECJ and ECHR. From 1994 to 1996 Pat was Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman, and in 1996 was appointed to her last post, Legal Director of the Office of Fair Trading, heading a team specialising in competition and consumer protection law. She retired in 2004.
Pat became a Bencher in 2003. She was a member of various committees, but particularly the Scholarships and Prizes Sub-committee, which she chaired between 2014 and 2018. Pat was always careful to spend time with students and was a good role model for them. She regularly volunteered for scholarship interviewing and attended moots. In 2014 she took part in the mooting excursion to the University of North Carolina. She was due to return last year and was much involved in the planning. She was so looking forward to the trip but sadly was too ill to attend. She made many friends out there, one of whom wrote after her death: ‘There was something about her, something utterly genuine, warm and yet ‘‘flinty’’, that made me admire her from our first meeting’, a description with which all her friends can agree.
Pat was Lent Reader in 2017; no one present will forget her Reading on the theme of London’s Burning, given in a Hall lit with red flames, while Pat herself wore a dress appropriately flecked with red and gold.
In 1970 Pat married Roger Cox, a member of Gray’s Inn, then practising at the Bar (he later became a Circuit Judge). On becoming Reader, Pat was enthralled by the College of Arms’ suggestion that she could use a punning reference to her married name in her coat of arms, in peacock feathers (‘P Cox’).
Pat’s interests were not exclusively at Middle Temple. For years she was involved in organisations and charities in and around Dulwich, where she continued to live after Roger’s death in 2009. In 2018 she was awarded a BEM for her local charity work. It was typical of Pat, who was essentially a very private person, that she never spoke of this. She always enjoyed travelling, in later years often with her mother Marion. Marion died last August, aged 99. Within a few weeks Pat was taken ill with pneumonia and diagnosed with leukaemia; despite weeks of gruelling treatment she died peacefully in hospital on Friday 24 January 2020. A memorial service will take place in Temple Church when circumstances allow.