Tributes paid to popular Calderdale barrister following his death

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Courtrooms in Bradford and Leeds were packed this morning as judges, lawyers and work colleagues paid tribute to one of the region’s most popular and respected barristers.

Judge Peter Benson led the tributes at Bradford Crown Court following the death of former Rastrick Grammar School pupil John Topham.

The judge, who had known John for 40 years, said the legal community in Bradford and Leeds had learned of his death over the weekend with great sadness and the packed courtrooms, which were linked via video for the tributes, were a reflection of the affection and respect in which he was held.

John, who leaves a wife and two sons, was called to the Bar in 1970 and worked as law lecturer in Huddersfield before moving into practice.

Judge Benson paid tribute to John’s “warmth and decency” and Yorkshire common sense which endeared him to juries.

John, who was a cricket fan and Huddersfield Town supporter, would have been 70 next year and Judge Benson described him as “a true gentleman” who would be much missed by all.

Barrister David McGonigal said John was always thorough and fearless in putting his clients’ cases and he remained his ever-cheerful and good humoured self despite his health problems.