Our Readers' Opinions
January 21, 2014
A legal giant dies

Editor: The Caribbean has lost a legend. Prominent Queen’s Counsel and political pioneer, Karl Hudson Phillips, died in London last Wednesday, the day after his arrival to celebrate his son’s 30th birthday and to attend other business matters. He was 80.{{more}}

Hudson Phillips represented St Vincent and the Grenadines’ government in several important cases, including the Commission of Inquiry headed by Guyanese senior counsel Rex McKay, which was set up to look into allegations of wrongdoing by the then Police Commssioner Randolph Toussaint. The costly investigation cleared Toussaint.

Hudson Phillips was also lead counsel in the claim for pension and gratuity filed by Henry Williams, who acted as Governor General. I, in my capacity as Solicitor General, was associated with the brilliant Queen’s Counsel in the Williams case, as well as constitutional motions filed by Duff Walker James and Edgie Richards. The government was successful in all the cases.

He was also a close friend and advisor to the then Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell in the 1990s. He and Doodnauth Singh of Guyana were the leading prosecution lawyers in the brutal murder of Grenada’s Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and prosecuted the case against Abdul Malik who had murdered a British socialite and buried her in a shallow grave near to his home in Christina Gardens. Besides being an outstanding lawyer, Hudson Phillips had a colourful political life. He inspired two famous calypsoes “Ah fraid Karl” and “Not a damn seat for them”, a prophetic remark made by the then prime minister George Chambers in 1981 about the electorate of the Organisation for National reconstructon (ONR) headed by Hudson Phillips.

Hudson Phillips was Attorney General under the Eric Williams PNM administration and his break with the PNM came with the undated resignation letter, which was introduced by Williams after the resignation of Hector Mc Clean from the party and Hudson-Phillips from government. Hudson Phillips challenged the undated letter as being undemocratic, unconstitutional and dictatorial and said he was not prepared to sign it under any circumstances. He then declined to run for a seat in the party. He later formed the ONR, which was not a successful party.

His close friend for 70 years, Ferdie Ferreira, told journalists that Karl said to him after the ONR defeat that “I gave my life to this thing (politics), they rejected me and I now have to settle down and look after my family.” He then started to practice in the Eastern Caribbean including St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ferreira said that his late friend had liked the finer things in life and had a dual personality – both aggressive and charismatic, but most time he was charming. He could sing, liked photography and he would play Chopin on the piano before moving seamlessly to “Jean and Dinah.”

He was runner-up in the Island Scholarship, attended Tranquility and Queen’s Royal College, before going to Cambridge University in the UK.

He will be buried in his homeland, Trinidad and Tobago. Condolences to his widow, Kathleen, his son and two daughters.

May his soul rest in peace.

Oscar Ramjeet