Principal's Blog: Late November 2018

blogBowerscrop1Visit of President Santos:
On 14 November we were delighted to welcome ex-President Santos of Columbia who spoke at a lunch in our Medieval Kitchen. He is also a Nobel Prize Laureate. Most of the 25 guests were experts in the country and its history and politics convened by our wonderful Golding Senior Fellow, Eduardo Posada Carbo. Pres Santos is now a Professor in the Department of International Development here and in Harvard and is setting up a foundation to take his global ideas forward. He talked about poverty; climate issues; transitional justice and Venezuelan migrants which is causing real issues in Colombia (and is proportionately a larger problem than the Syrian immigrants to Europe). He also spoke hilariously about Pres Trump asking him whether he should invade Venezuela (although the subject was not so funny.

Freshers Concert:
A vigorous and varied Freshers Concert on 9 November was convincing evidence that music is thriving here at Brasenose. The programme included piano, singers, violin, saxophone and cello and all the musicians were in their first year. It was a really memorable event.

Ellesmere Law dinner:
We were very lucky to be addressed by Lord Briggs at the Annual Ellesmere Law dinner on 10 November. Michael Briggs was one of the most outstanding Chancery barristers of his generation and an excellent High Court and Court of Appeal judge. He has been in the Supreme Court for about a year and conducted an important review of civil justice. In a wide ranging address he spoke of how digitisation and AI may affect the courts and warned that as Sir Nigel Shadbolt (my Fellow Head of House at Jesus College) had predicted “one cannot put the digital gene back in the bottle” nor could one simplistically state that robots would do the hard work leaving judges to make the judgments. It was necessary to have a pact between judges, lawyers and AI.

It was also of interest to hear how digitised the Supreme Court is, with Michael not having used paper since the beginning of the year save for permissions for leave to appeal.

Rosie Duthie the President made a very entertaining speech too. The Ellesmere is a great opportunity for students to mix with Fellows and practising lawyers.

Ceremony of Remembrance:
On 11 November, the one-hundredth anniversary of the Armistice, a moving ceremony of Remembrance was held in the Chapel. A small exhibition about the Great War had been organised by the Chaplain, and she drew out two particular names to focus upon, Antony Strode Jackson, a Brasenose undergraduate who won gold in the 1500 metres at the Stockholm Olympics, and Bob Brandt, a former tutor of Classics. Jackson won no fewer than four DSOs, and by 1918 he was the youngest Brigadier General in the British Army. Seriously wounded, though, he never ran again. Brandt was killed at Ypres in July 1915. The names of all the Brasenose dead in the War were recited, year by year, and it seemed an impossibly long list.

I try to get around to speak to different groups of staff around College and to thank them for their efforts. On 12 November I talked to buttery and catering staff. I emphasised the many plaudits I receive about our catering.

I have really enjoyed reading recently Why We Get the Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman, Future Politics by my Chambers colleague Jamie Susskind sand The Skripal Files by Mark Urban. I would recommend them all although none are optimistic books.

[I am grateful to the Vice Principal for the paragraph on the Ceremony of Remembrance]

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