David Pollard: the University man (1939–2011)
As someone taught by and who taught with David, I am privileged to speak of his time as a valued and respected teacher and colleague in the Department of Law at Leicester, somewhere he spent just over 30 years of a 40 year academic career.
He joined the Department in October 1971, following his former Hull colleague, John Woodliffe, to become part of an expanding team, led by Jan Grodecki, to take this fledgling Department forward. David and John both became Senior Lecturers in 1975, the end of my first year as a teacher in the Department.
Among David’s many contributions to the undoubted success of the Department, three in particular stand out:
First, his lead role in establishing links with the Université Robert Schuman in Leicester’s twin city, Strasbourg leading to our Law with French Law and Language degree, laying strong foundations on which others were later to build our double degree (LLB/Maîtrise) with the renamed University of Strasbourg. David was honoured for his work by the French State with both Chevalier and Officier des Palmes Academiques. He was thus ‘foreign secretary’ to a succession of ‘prime ministers’ in the Department: Jan Grodecki, Edward Griew, James Fawcett, Alan Dashwood, David Allen, Robin White and Chris Clarkson.
Secondly, he had a significant role in establishing Leicester as one of the first law schools to have a compulsory module on EEC law, as it then was.
Thirdly, he played a major part in the establishment of the Department’s pioneering taught postgraduate degree: the LLM in Welfare Law with John Woodliffe, David Hughes and Robin White. In good part this built on David’s mapping out of the contours of this new legal subject in the Encyclopaedia of Social Welfare Law. Initially Editor and contributor directing several other authors he eventually undertook this mammoth work solo. I know of no one with a comparable depth and breadth of knowledge of this important but ‘Cinderella’ subject.
David taught in his time a variety of subjects: Family Law, Criminal Law, social security law, and Constitutional and Administrative law. In research and teaching terms, he was a scholar in both English and French public law, producing with David Hughes and latterly also Neil Parpworth a major work on the Constitutional and Administrative Law of this country, as well as entertaining the SLS public law group with often wicked thoughts on possible prosecution of a certain French President.
But David was never just a member of the Law Department. He was in the widest sense of the term a University man. He was an active member of the University’s wine club, of its town/gown Haldane Society, and of Robert Kenny’s Christmas Choir. He was also for a number of years one of the University’s Public Orators, giving well-crafted and finely delivered orations in respect of a variety of famous honorary graduands on Degree days: Mario Soares, President of Portugal; Betty Boothroyd, Speaker of the House of Commons; the actor, Nigel Hawthorne of ‘Yes Minister’ fame; the eminent actress, Janet Suzman; and Tom Butler, Anglican Bishop of Leicester and latterly Southwark, coincidentally one of David’s close friends from University days at Leeds.
Just as he gave generously of himself and his talents to all these activities, so he gave generously of his time, his convivial companionship, sound counsel and support to colleagues, especially early career colleagues. Many of them have recounted to me in the last 10 days their gratitude to David. He was also particularly generous to students in terms of his time, insight and guidance. Consequently, they adored him as a teacher and mentor.
Like those colleagues and students, all of us here today to celebrate David’s life and mark his passing, are each so much the better for having known him.
David Bonner, November 2011