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Sir Clive Callman

Obituary for Sir Clive Callman, Fellow and former Governor at Birkbeck, University of London.

We are saddened to announce the death of Birkbeck Fellow and former Governor Sir Clive Callman. Callman, a Circuit Judge and for 24 years, Deputy High Court Judge in the Family Division, first came to England in 1939 aged 11, a Jewish refugee fleeing Berlin with his family. He is remembered for his deep generosity, volunteering and advocacy for a wide variety of public and charitable institutions. As patron of the Friends of Progressive Judaism, he supported fundraising for the reestablishment of non-orthodox Jewish communities in Europe; he also acted as the legal assessor for the General Medical Council.

A keen advocate for widening access to education, particularly legal education, Callman made major contributions to the development of schemes to further and improve the training of young barristers. His colleague Rachel Ellison noted that “He was committed to advocacy training and student advisory work, informally mentoring many young people. His door was always open to those in need. In retirement, he went back to school himself, qualifying as a mediator. He worked on complex international cases well into his 80s.” He was knighted by the Queen in 2012 for services to Law, Education and Charity.

Known in legal circles for his keen analytic mind and talent for cross-examination, he took a leading role in the University of London’s Strategic Issues Group from 1992 to 1994. This was one of the most explosive periods in the University of London history, when financial and other pressures were threatening the federation of the University with dissolution. Members of the University noted that they owe it “in very large part to Judge Callman that the University was guided safely through this difficult period of what we now realise was not decline but merely late adolescence, and that he helped to define the new conditions under which it now once again flourishes.”

His contributions to Birkbeck were outlined in his Fellowship oration, where it was noted that it was here that he “made his longest and most sustained contributions. No Governor has given Birkbeck as much service in our history as Judge Callman, who served on our Governing Body for 18 years continuously. During that time, he [gave] unstintingly of his time and his wisdom.”

“Judge Callman was involved in some of the most important and far-reaching transformations in Birkbeck. One of these was the incorporation of the University’s Centre for Extra-Mural Studies into Birkbeck in 1988, which would subsequently form our Faculty of Continuing Education. He had also helped to lay the ground for the sponsorship of Professorships in Financial Economics.

“The vision of Judge Callman, working with the then Master, now Baroness Blackstone, in seeing the important and largely unaddressed need within this city for students to be able to study law on a part-time basis, led to one of the most conspicuous successes of recent years, the setting up of our School of Law. This has given opportunities to many students to change life course, and enter the law, as well as to many others who seek wider and deeper understanding of the legal processes that are so important a part of modern life.

“It is in no small measure due to Judge Callman that, since the establishment of Birkbeck’s School of Law, taxi-drivers across the capital have become even more well-versed in the subtleties of tort and probate than ever before.”

He is predeceased by his wife Judy. He leaves his two children and his six grandchildren.