13:44, March 15 327 0 theguardian.com

2020-03-15 13:44:03
Other lives  David Turrell obituary

My colleague David Turrell, who has died aged 70 following a long illness preceded by a stroke, was a tribunal judge. He adjudicated on disputes involving government administrative agencies, delivering justice to vulnerable people with skill and compassion.

He began deciding welfare benefit appeals in 1984 as a member of social security tribunals and many thousands of appellants appreciated his incisive decisions. From 1993, he decided to specialise in that particular area of law, ceasing more lucrative work at the bar, and accepting appointment as a full-time legal chair of appeal tribunals.

He was commended in 1996 for a unique collegiate approach to administration and personal development. In 1999 he became full-time district chair of appeal tribunals for east England, a position he held until his retirement.

In 2008, as part of judicial reorganisation, tribunal legal chairs were at last recognised for the comprehensive work they performed and accordingly he was formally appointed a judge of the first-tier tribunal (social entitlement chamber). He had worked in most areas of the tribunal service, and his knowledge of social security law was recognised as “encyclopedic”.

Born in Oxford, David was the son of John Turrell, an auto body assembler, and his wife, Mary (nee Jackson). He went to Oxford grammar school, continued his studies with the Workers’ Educational Association and then signed up for a degree in social and political science at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

In 1971 he joined the Prison Service, serving for seven years and rising to be deputy governor of Bullwood Hall, a prison for women and young offenders in Essex. After a year’s further study his degree was converted to a diploma in law and, after passing the bar examinations, he achieved his ambition, becoming a barrister of the Inner Temple in 1979.

In 1978 he married Elizabeth Galvin, a doctor, who practised in Hockley, Essex, where the family settled. They had two children, Richard and Michael. David enjoyed his family, fellowship, rugby and travelling to the Greek islands. He was also a stalwart supporter of St Peter and St Paul’s church in Hockley.

He is survived by Elizabeth, Richard and Michael.