UK

Ex family court head takes own life after dementia diagnosis

Britain's former most senior family law judge has taken his own life after recently being diagnosed with dementia.

Sir Nicholas Wall's family said the 71-year-old had suffered for several years from a rare neurological disease called fronto temporal lobe dementia.

Sir Nicholas became president of the High Court's Family Division in 2010 but retired on health grounds in 2012.

The Family Law Bar Association said he was "a compassionate judge who... cared deeply about the outcome of his cases".

Sir Nicholas, who was called to the Bar in 1969, became a recorder in 1990 and then a judge of the High Court Family Division in 1993.

He went on to work at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Administrative Court and Court of Appeal.

In a 2011 interview with the Times, Sir Nicholas said a "live-in lovers" law would protect women in long-term relationships from losing their home and income in a break-up with their partner.

A year later he suggested couples should be allowed to divorce without having to blame one or the other, saying he could "see no good arguments against no-fault divorce".

A death notice in the Times says Sir Nicholas "died by his own hand on 17th February 2017".

In a statement, Sir Nicholas's family said he "took his own life having suffered for several years" from a disease that "had only recently been diagnosed".

Sir James Munby, his successor as President of the Family Division, said: "Sir Nicholas often spoke with passion, and in plain language, about the importance of family life, the good practice of family law, and the proper administration and resourcing of family justice.

"He was appropriately outspoken about the plight of children caught up in the midst of parental conflict.

"He expressed his deep concern again and again about the impact of domestic abuse on children and on family life."

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