13:07, August 07 55 0 theguardian.com

2017-08-07 13:07:02
Other lives  Jim Daniell obituary

My friend and colleague Jim Daniell, who has died of cancer aged 67, played an important role in the creation of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. The historic Belfast agreement of April 1998 included a commitment to “bring forward proposals for future criminal justice arrangements”.

As director of criminal justice in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) from 1994 until 2000, Jim brought together a team of practitioners and independent experts, which he chaired. The Criminal Justice Review’s 294 recommendations were fully put into effect and the new arrangements have borne up under scrutiny. Jim personally drafted much of the final report, published in March 2000. It exemplified his strengths – clear strategic direction allied to the detail needed for successful implementation.

Jim was born in Chipping Sodbury, in the Cotswolds, to Christine (nee Pickard) and Robert Daniell. His father was a manager with the National Provincial Bank (later NatWest) and the family moved around as Robert was promoted to larger branches. Jim went to Barnstaple grammar school, Devon, and then Warwick University, where he got a first class degree in law. His first job after that was with the Greater London council before he moved to the Home Office.

Jim was the epitome of an excellent public servant. Ferociously hard-working, he had outstanding integrity. Jim joined the NIO a year after direct rule had been introduced in 1972. While much of his civil service career was in Northern Ireland, first during the Troubles and then after the Belfast agreement, he also made a notable contribution to policing reform at the Home Office from 2000 to 2003. Jim and a senior colleague were then summarily “let go”.

Jim did not become embittered. Instead, he went on to make a whole series of constructive contributions to the public sector and related fields. From 2007, for three years he chaired the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission. He also conducted reviews on important issues in Northern Ireland such as vetting for child protection purposes, the criminal injuries compensation scheme, and access to justice. From 2011 he was both an assistant commissioner for the Boundary Commission of England and Wales and a panel chair for the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Jim had also been principal private secretary to successive Northern Ireland secretaries, first to Douglas Hurd and then to Tom King, in the 1980s. He was in Los Angeles on an official visit with the former when a call came through to the hotel that Jim’s wife, Sally, had given birth to their twins, Robyn and Liam.

He was self-effacing, Jim’s commitment, energy and problem-solving skills inspired loyalty in those who worked for him. His personal charm and understanding of others enabled him to win round many not initially supportive of his approach.

Sally (nee Williams), whom he married in 1979, survives him, as do their children.