City’s second honorary recorder stepping down

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The Honorary Recorder of Bradford, Judge James Stewart QC has announced his retirement later this month.

Three years ago, he became only the second holder of the post in his home city since Bradford Council decided to revive the title in 2001, taking over as resident judge from Judge Stephen Gullick.

“I have loved my time at Bradford Crown Court, and have had tremendous support from my fellow judges and staff there but sadly I have to bring my career to an end on health grounds and admit it is time to hang up my wig,” he said.

Called to the Bar in 1966 he joined Bradford Chambers, becoming a Queen’s Counsel in 1982 at the age of 38.

The same year he became a Crown Court Recorder moving to chambers in Leeds where he became joint head of Park Court Chambers before his appointment as a Circuit Judge in 2002.

During his period at the Bar he appeared in a number of high profile cases including the Strangeways riot trial and the trial of Arthur Hutchinson, nicknamed the Fox, who murdered a Sheffield solicitor, his wife and son following a wedding reception.

Since becoming a Circuit Judge he has regularly presided over murder trials in West Yorkshire and sits at the Old Bailey and in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

He is also one of the judges approved to handle terrorism cases on the North Eastern Circuit.

Judge Stewart was described by the council as “a Bradfordian through and through” when he was appointed. His father Henry Hamilton Stewart, a surgeon, was made a Freeman of the City in 1974 in recognition of his medical services to Bradford while his mother Edna was a Justice of the Peace in the city for 25 years.

Judge Stewart’s first wife Helen, the sister of the late Richard Whiteley, died in 1998. He married his second wife Debbie in 2006 and has one surviving daughter Georgina, a teacher having sadly lost another, Alexandra, a barrister, to cystic fibrosis in 2003.