Farewell to Lord Shawcross

THE sons and daughter of renowned war crimes prosecutor Hartley Shawcross paid emotional tributes to their father at his funeral in Jevington on Tuesday.

His son William, the writer and broadcaster, described his father as 'a brilliant mind … a hero … a great dramatic actor – the Lawrence Olivier of Sussex'.

Lord Shawcross, as he became in 1959, lived in Cowbeech in the latter part of his life and also owned the estate of Friston Place. He died at home on July 10, aged 101.

Famed the world over for his commanding performance as Britain's Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials of 1945-46, Shawcross was also Labour's postwar Attorney-General and principal delegate to the United Nations during its formative years.

His other son, Hume, spoke of the time his father, then an old man and a self-confessed hypochondriac, had sent him a telegram inviting him to stay for what he expected to be his 'final' Christmas – in 1980.

'Of his three children, I had the most contentious relationship with him,' said Hume. 'I rebelled against him and spurned the love he offered and the guidance he gave me. It was the sheer force of Hartley's personality that made me rebel in this way, but the one source of hope I could always rely upon was him.

'My father was brilliant, something of a loner, with great honour and integrity, and at all times he was his own man. One word that aptly describes him is distinguished.

'His life was magnificent, full of achievement. He would have approved of today and this service, and it has been crowned by being such a superb, English summer's day.'

Daughter Joanna spoke of his quirky sense of humour, liking for practical jokes and love of poetry.

Referring to her father's boating hobby – Shawcross was a member of several yacht clubs around the world – she said: 'He is now put out to sea and I know he is under his guiding star.'

Shawcross, once described as 'the best-looking man in English public life', was married three times.

His first wife, Alberta Shyvers, took her own life in 1943 while suffering from an incurable illness. The following year he married Joan Mather, the mother of his children, who was killed in a riding accident in 1974. Finally, he married Monique Huiskamp in 1997, by whom he is survived.

William said: 'His brilliant mind and his remarkable command of the English language were all deployed in Nuremberg, to astonishing effect. He was a hero to the people who had fought in Europe and had yearned for the judgment at the war crimes trials.

'He was not always the easiest of fathers. He could be very tough on us, and on Joan. But he was also very tough on himself.

'The most important thing for him was always his family. He had a love of England, a love of poetry and a love of Glyndebourne.

'In his will he asked for any service for him to be in memory of Joan as well. He said he hoped to find her waiting for him just around the corner. Now he has turned that corner, their souls are reunited and their bodies are together in the same grave.'

Lord Shawcross held honorary degrees from nine universities in Britain and the USA and was the director of 15 companies including EMI, Shell Petroleum and Times Newspapers. He was a council member, pro-chancellor and later Chancellor at the University of Sussex.