Tributes paid to renowned Eastbourne barrister

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The legal world has paid tribute to one of England’s most renowned barristers after his death at his home in Eastbourne.

Michael Worsley, 89, died on December 22 after a career spanning more than 55 years as a Queen’s Counsel.

When Mr Worsley retired in 2010, he was celebrated as the Old Bailey’s oldest – and most experienced – prosecutor.

Due to his experience and expertise, Mr Worsley acted as prosecutor in some of the country’s highest profile murder trials.

His cases include the prosecution of the three men behind the killing of police Special Constable Nisha Patel in 2006 and the arranged murder of Surjit Athwal by her husband Sukhdave Athwal and his 70-year-old mother Bachan Athwell in 2007.

He also led the prosecution of the infamous Security Express robbery in the 1980s – the country’s largest ever cash robbery which saw a gang of thieves steal more than £6 million.

During the trial Mr Worsley cross-examined the EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor about the finances of her ex-husband Ronnie Knight.

In 1995 Knight, who had been in hiding in the Costa Del Sol for close to 10-years, admitted to receiving more than £300,000 from the robbery.

In 1968, Mr Worsley acted as the prosecuting counsel in the obscenity trail against Bill Butler, the owner of Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton.

The trial, held in Brighton Magistrates Court, saw Butler charged with possessing obscene articles for commercial publication after the store printed a now infamous short story by the author J. G. Ballard.

Mr Worsley was also famous among colleagues for wearing “comfortable” sandals around the court.

Although not visible in court, the brown sandals were usually present along with the wig and gown.

A number of prominent barristers have paid tribute to Mr Worsley following his death.

Joshua Rozenberg said, “Sorry to hear Michael Worsley QC has died at 89. He was the Old Bailey’s most experienced prosecutor when he retired after 55 years at the bar.”

Criminal barrister, Peter Grieves-Smith, said, “Very sad news. One of the greats of the Criminal Bar.”

Another barrister, Julian Blake, said, “Sad to hear about Michael Worsley QC - a great leader of my old Chambers and former room-mate.

A service for Mr Worsley was held at Our Lady of Ransom in Eastbourne on Monday, January 4.

He is survived by his wife Jane, his children Ben, Mark and Angela and grandchildren Jacques, Leonie and Clara.

His family ask that any donations are given to St Wilfrid’s Hospice courtesy of the funeral directors Haine and Son, 19 South Street, Eastbourne, BN21 4UJ (01323 727801).

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