Allan J. Lawrie

The Scottish-born lawyer Allan James Lawrie, K.C. (1873–1926), who in May 1918 presided over the appeal of BR’s conviction, was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, and called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1899. As a comparatively young man in 1911, he was appointed deputy chairman of the County of London Quarter Sessions and sat on the bench there until his death over fourteen years later. Liberal in both politics and law, Lawrie unsuccessfully contested a Yorkshire seat as a Liberal in the 1900 general election and, after inheriting property in East Lothian, maintained an active interest in the party’s fortunes in that region of Scotland. On the bench he was “undoubtedly in sympathy”, according to his obituarist, with a new emphasis on reformatory justice at the London Quarter Sessions (The Times, 2 Feb. 1926, p. 16). Regarding BR’s case, Lawrie thought that a sentence of three or four months would have been more proportionate. Notwithstanding Home Office dissatisfaction with the reassignment of BR to the first division, Lawrie was not overly indulgent of a prisoner whose conviction he had, after all, upheld. In addition, shortly before BR’s release, Lawrie recommended to the Home Office that any extra remission of the sentence be conditional upon BR pledging to abstain from peace propaganda (3 Sept. 1918, BRACERS 122569). The advice was ignored as the Home Office was satisfied with Frank’s assurances about BR’s post-Brixton plans.