Sir William Macpherson



High court judge Sir William Macpherson (chief of the Clan Macpherson) has died aged 94. He had been a captain in the Scots Guard during World War Two before receiving his calling towards the law. In a forty-year legal career, he became a judge in 1983 and was the man who sentenced murderer Robert Black. In 1997, he headed the inquiry into the murder of Steven Lawrence, a famous racial murder in 90s Britain. At the time the police had decided there was insufficient evidence for a murder prosecution, and Sir William was not a popular choice to lead the inquiry, being seen as too establishment, old and conservative.

Instead, Macpherson published his comprehensive report in 1999, revealing widespread incompetence in the police actions after the murder. Against considerable disdain and complaints from The Telegraph and the Met, he also declared the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist and set out reform recommendations across the entire legal and policing spectrum. This was akin to setting off a nuclear bomb in establishment society. Macphersons reforms lead to the founding of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, among sixty-seven other immediate changes, and remains one of the go to texts on societal inequalities to this day. In 2012, two of Lawrence’s killers were finally found guilty of murder in a court of law, incidentally.

When Macpherson wasn’t shaking the British establishment to its core, he also enjoyed playing golf and Clan ceilidhs. He was a unique pick for Unusual Suspects and had been MacPherson Clan Chief since 1969.


William Macpherson
1 April 1926 – 14 February 2021