Denys Roberts : biography
Dato Seri Paduka Sir Denys Tudor Emil Roberts, KBE, SPMB, QC (Traditional Chinese: 羅弼時爵士, 19 January 1923 – 19 May 2013) was a British colonial official and judge. Joining the colonial civil service as a Crown Counsel in Nyasaland in 1953, he became Attorney-General of Gibraltar in 1960. In 1962, he was posted to Hong Kong as Solicitor-General, and was successively promoted to Attorney-General in 1966, Colonial Secretary in 1973 and Chief Secretary in 1979. He was the first and only Attorney-General to become both Colonial Secretary (and Chief Secretary) in Hong Kong. Never having been a judge before, he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1979 and was the first and only Colonial Secretary (and Chief Secretary) of Hong Kong to receive such appointment.Who was who, London: Adam & Charles Black, 1996.
Roberts was the last non-Chinese person to hold the post of Chief Justice of Hong Kong. After retiring in 1988, he had served as President of the Court of Appeal of Bermuda, Chief Justice and President of Court of Appeal of Brunei Darussalam before finally retiring from the judicial service in 2003.
Roberts lived in retirement in Norfolk, England, where he spent his time writing. He published his memoir, Another Disaster, in 2006, in which he recounts his life in the colonies. He died, aged 90, on 19 or 20 May 2013. 20 May according to obituary notice in the Times on 21 May 2013. 19 May according to Obituary in Daily Telegraph 3 June 2013.
- Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1960)
- Queen's Counsel (Gibraltar, 1960)
- Queen's Counsel (Hong Kong, 1964)
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1970)
- Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1975)
- SPMB (Brunei Darussalam, 1984)
- Official Justice of the Peace (Hong Kong)
- Wadham College, Oxford (1984)
Place named after him
- Sir Denys Roberts Squash Courts (羅弼時爵士壁球場), located at Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong
Roberts was called to the bar by Lincoln’s Inn. In 1950, he began his career as a barrister-at-law based in London, but it was discontinued when he joined the colonial civil service in 1953 as a Crown Counsel in Nyasaland (now Malawi). In 1960, he was promoted to Attorney-General of Gibraltar and became an ex-officio member of both Executive and Legislative Councils of Gibraltar. In the same year, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours, and made a Queen's Counsel of Gibraltar on 20 June.
Roberts served for only two years, which was much shorter than his predecessors, and was posted out of Gibraltar in 1962. According to his memoir, he reckoned that the reason was probably because he offended the Governor in a military parade where he shouted openly at the Governor’s aide-de-camp for the poor arrangement of the event.Roberts, Sir Denys, Another disaster: Hong Kong Sketches, p. 14.
In 1962, Roberts was sent to Hong Kong as Solicitor-General and was made a Queen's Counsel of Hong Kong on 8 September 1964. He was appointed Attorney-General by then Governor Sir David Trench in 1966 and became ex-officio member of both Executive and Legislative Councils of Hong Kong, promoted Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1970 New Year Honours, and was appointed Colonial Secretary, succeeding Sir Hugh Norman-Walker, by Governor Sir Murray MacLehose in 1973. Roberts was the first and only Attorney-General to become Colonial Secretary in the history of Hong Kong. He continued to hold the position when Colonial Secretary was renamed Chief Secretary in 1976.
During his tenure as Colonial Secretary and Chief Secretary, Roberts assisted MacLehose to implement a wide range of policies from political reform to housing development. He paid particular attention to trade development and visited a number of places, including the United States and Latin America, to promote trade relations.〈羅弼時爵士將率貿易團，首訪拉丁美洲，擴雙邊貿易〉，《工商日報》第六頁，1978年5月22日。 In the 1975 Queen's Birthday Honours, Roberts was promoted Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his public services. In 1979, he chaired an investigation to look into the aftermath of the fraud scandal of Golden Jubilee Secondary School.〈金禧事件後，羅弼時親自處理〉，《工商日報》第八頁，1978年7月15日。 Roberts was acting Governor for a number of occasions when the Governor was absent.
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