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Roger Errera

We are very sad to announce the death of Roger Errera last August.

Roger was one of the speakers at the opening of the Bingham Centre in the Royal Courts of Justice on 10 December. It was fitting that he speak, as an indication of the international role the Centre wanted to mark, and also because of his life-long contribution to the rule of law worldwide.

Over the years Roger spent much time in the UK, starting with a year -long sabbatical in London with his wife Irene and two young children in 1983, as a visiting professor at University College London. During that time he introduced many of us to the French and European approach to public and international law, showing how the French system evolved in similar fashion to the common law, albeit with more precise concepts. He also engaged on issues of freedom of religion and expression (on the latter believing that the American "absolutist" first amendment was not suitable for European countries which, due to their recent history, should be entitled to limit such as hate speech or holocaust denial.

Such was the affection and respect in which Roger was held (UCL later awarded him an Honorary Fellowship) that just three years after that first visit he was invited to spend another sabbatical year, this time as Senior Research Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies.

He was a participant in, and moving force behind the periodic exchanges between the Anglo-French judicial exchange. He was for many years a valued member of the board of Interights, and on the editorial board of Public Law, to which he contributed a regular section on the jurisprudence of the Conseil d'Etat.

Roger was a graduate of the famous Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), from which he entered the Conseil d'Etat as an 'auditeur' in 1959, then named as a 'Conseiller d'Etat in 1985. Outside of the Conseil d'Etat Roger held high office in France including, from 1982-85, the French expert on the UN Human Rights Committee. In 1988 he was appointed to chair the Board of the Ecole Nationale Superiure de la Police (the training school for the higher echelons of the French national police). In 1998 he was appointed as a member of the Board of the Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature (the state institution for judicial training) where he then directed training on immigration and aliens law. From 1998-2002 he served on the Conseil Superieur de la Magistrature, where he took part in the vetting of judicial appointments and judicial discipline.

The UK was not the only country where Roger was a welcome visitor. He was a German Marshall Fund Fellow at Harvard in 1975, Visiting Professor at the Central European University in Budapest, a frequent participant at exchanges between the Conseil d'Etat and the Cour de Cassation and the Israeli Supreme Court and a participant in the Salzbourg Seminars and in meetings at the Academy of International Law in Florence. After the fall of the Soviet Union he participated in seminars all over Central and Eastern Europe and acted as an expert or consultant of the Council of Europe, the EU Commission and the OECD on legal and judicial matters and human rights.

His books on Liberty (1968) and the role of judges and the judicial system in France (published shortly before his death) obtained a strong following. He was also editor of the respected series 'Diaspora'.

Anyone who had the fortune to know Roger well will miss his rigorous intellectual energy, his infectious humour, his deep integrity and profound commitment to the values in which he passionately believed.

Jeffrey Jowell