Andrew Mollison: Legal profession pay tribute to 'longest serving court watcher'

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image copyrightWayne Digby
image captionMr Mollison watched criminal cases at Sheffield Crown Court for more than 40 years

More than 150 judges, barristers, solicitors and court staff have paid tribute to a man described as the UK's "longest serving court watcher".

Andrew Mollison, who has died aged 74, spent 42 years observing proceedings at Sheffield Crown Court.

During a eulogy at the court The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, described him as an "institution" who will be sadly missed.

Mr Mollison, from Parson Cross, Sheffield, died on 10 November.

Judge Richardson said he had been inundated with messages of condolence from across the country since his death, including letters from "Lord Justices, judges of all ranks and many others".

He said: "They have written to me almost as if Andrew was a member of their family and, in a way, he was.

"The role he fulfilled was very important, it is so very easy to forget in the current circumstances that our courts are open to the public, after all it's the public we serve.

"As juries represent the wider public in terms of judgement it was Andrew, and others like him, who represented the public as observers of the administration of justice."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionMr Mollison was described as an "institution" at Sheffield Crown Court

Tom Ingall, BBC Look North correspondent

Court watcher is not an official job by any stretch of the imagination but Andrew rarely missed a day.

A silent sentinel to justice unfolding, he'd observe the comings and goings, the ins and outs of trials and the courtroom procedures that punctuate them.

He'd be happy to share his tips, ask what we were covering and offer his thoughts on cases of all different types.

As a much younger reporter, I was always reassured by his friendly face in a building which can seem overwhelming.

He was a real gent. Courteous, always ready with a smile and happy to talk about whatever he'd seen happen that day.

He'll be missed. Not just by journalists but by the entire court staff including the judges.

The short service was also attended virtually by Mr Mollison's aunt Joan Goodison, who those present heard he never failed to call on a Sunday morning.

Tributes were also paid by Judge Peter Kelson QC, who first met Mr Mollison in 1981.

He said Mr Mollison travelled across the country to support barristers and judges, and had travelled to London to wait outside the House of Lords on the day he was appointed Queens Counsel.

"Andrew was unique, loyal, constant," he said.

"It's abundantly clear from the outpouring of sentiment following his death that Andrew was much loved."

In closing, he read a message from retired judge Michael Murphy QC, who Mr Mollison first befriended in the 1970s, saying: "We think he was the longest serving court watcher and if anyone wishes to challenge that title, please don't."

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