Gordon Hewart Biography

Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart, PC (7 January 1870 – 5 May 1943) was a politician and judge in the United Kingdom. Born in Bury, Lancashire the son of Giles Hewart, he was educated at Manchester Grammar School and University College, Oxford.

He was a Liberal Member of Parliament from 1913 and was made a Privy Counsellor in 1918, Attorney General from 10 January 1919 to 6 March 1922. He entered the cabinet in 1921, and was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 8 March 1922 to 12 October 1940. He was given a peerage as Baron Hewart in 1922 to allow him to sit in the House of Lords as Lord Chief Justice. Upon his retirement he was created Viscount Hewart.

In 1929 Hewart published The New Despotism, in which he claimed that the rule of law in Britain was being undermined by the legislature. This book was very controversial and led to the appointment of a Committee on Ministers' Powers—chaired by the Earl of Donoughmore—but its Report rejected Hewart's arguments. He has been described as "one of the most vigorous and vociferous believers in the impeccability of the English jury system of this or any other century" However, in 1931, Hewart made legal history, when (sitting with Mr Justice Branson and Mr Justice Hawke) he quashed the conviction for murder of William Herbert Wallace, on the grounds that the conviction was not supported by the weight of the evidence. In other words – the jury was wrong. Lord Hewart was the originator (paraphrased from the original) of the aphorism "Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done." He died in Barnet aged 73.