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Insolvency Law

Expert guidance on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency

08 AUG 2009

Royal Courts of Justice - Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy display and some recent additions to the collection

As the final draft of the Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy display at the Royal Courts of Justice is signed off today (the date for the unveiling ceremony will be posted in due course), some further exciting news comes from the museum.

On Wednesday of this week (05/08/09) Professor David Graham QC and John Tribe travelled down to Hunterston in Donhead St Matthew, near Shaftesbury, to visit Professor Muir Hunter QC's widow, Mrs Gillian Petrie Hunter. We had an enjoyable afternoon discussing, inter alia, Professor Hunter and his bankruptcy work and wider activities, and Mrs Hunter's time as Sir John Betjeman's secretary. Mrs Hunter has kindly lent a number of interesting items to the museum on long-term loan. These include:

  • Professor Muir Hunter QC's court wig and Queen's Counsel gown. These are now on display at the museum. They join Registrar Cunliffe's full-bottomed wig which is on long-term loan from the Royal Courts of Justice.
  • Copies of all the books that Professor Hunter wrote or edited. This of course includes Williams on Bankruptcy, which subsequently became Muir Hunter on Personal Insolvency. 
  • Professor Hunter's personal copies of Cork one and two; he was vice-chairman of both committees, the first Cork committee on European harmonisation was set up in 1973 and the second committee was set up at the beginning of 1977. 
  • Three lever arch files and one box file of materials on the Poulson bankruptcy (John Garlick Llewellyn Poulson). During the course of the public examination hearings at Wakefield County court in 1973, Hunter's questioning led to a brief but for him extremely anxious period when his conduct was the subject of investigation by the Bar Council's disciplinary committee; the complaint soon proved to be groundless and was dismissed. A useful summary of the background to the Poulson can be found in the judgment of Walton, J in Re Poulson (A Bankrupt) [1976] 1 W.L.R. 1023. The attempt by Mr Reginald Maudling (former Home Secretary) during libel proceedings to gain access to transcripts of private examinations failed.  The documents, including, nearly all the transcripts of the public as well as the private examinations in the case, provide a superb basis for a more detailed study of the Poulson affair; this important material is matched by the archives of Desmond Simpson, solicitor to Poulson's Trustee in Bankruptcy which have been lodged in the National Archives at Kew. 
  • Two lever arch files of material on Professor Hunter's work for Amnesty International. He went out to observe, on behalf of the recently formed Amnesty International, trials of political personalities in several African countries. The early Amnesty International archives do not appear to have maintained this material. Hunter's connection with Ndabaningi Sithole (31 July 1920 – 12 December 2000) the founder of ZANU is of particular significance.

The long-term loan materials from Mrs Hunter are now being catalogued. The results will be posted here in due course. The above materials, particularly the Poulson archives, are going to form the core of two doctoral funding bids. CILP, which has been closely associated with Professor Hunter, is particularly grateful to Mrs Hunter for her kindness to us and her assistance generally.

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