Sunday, April 14, 2024

Prominent Gloucestershire lawyer who fought for the environment passes away

Eminent lawyer Polly Higgins has died at the age of just 50.

Ms Higgins, who lived near Stroud, was told in March that she had terminal cancer and had about six weeks to live. She was a hugely respected barrister and an expert in ‘ecocide’ – the deliberate destruction of the natural environment. Her husband is the resident judge at Gloucester Crown Court, Ian Lawrie QC, where lawyers and staff were told today of her death. Judge Lawrie has recently been on leave to be with his Scots-born wife before she passed away on Sunday.

She has been described as ‘one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement’. She presented a proposal to the United Nations Law Commission for ecocide to be recognised as an international crime and she was the author of ‘Eradicating Ecocide’ and creator of the first non-commercial trust fund for ‘Earth Protectors.’ Ms Higgins grew up on the shores of Loch Lomond and childhood discussions with her meteorologist father and artist mother were often about green issues.

According to an interview she gave to the Scotsman newspaper, her parents were at first shocked that their daughter had entered the legal profession. However, she explained “the Earth is in need of a good lawyer!”When Ms Higgins was told last month that she had an aggressive form of cancer and had only weeks to live, she said the work she pioneered would go on after her death.

“My legal team will continue undeterred,” she said.

“But there are millions who care so much and feel so powerless about the future, and I would love to see them begin to understand the power of this one, simple law to protect the Earth – to realise it’s possible, even straightforward. I wish I could live to see a million Earth protectors standing for it – because I believe they will.”On Ms Higgins’ Facebook page today, her colleague and ‘fellow warrior’ Jojo Mehta, wrote: “Polly’s gone. At 5.05pm, peacefully, with her husband beside her and two of her closest friends.

“And on Easter/Ēostre … the festival of new life, in more than one tradition.

“It’s up to all of us now. #PollysLaw

“So much love. Tune in to her. She’ll be there. She’ll be everywhere.”

Author and activist Naomi Klein tweeted: “She devoted her life to changing broken laws that have failed so miserably to protect the natural systems on which we all depend. Her work will live on.”

Kate Raworth, a teacher at the Environmental Change Institute of Oxford University, said she was devastated by the loss of such a brilliant and pioneering legal campaigner.

“May bright young lawyers worldwide be inspired to continue her essential work,” she tweeted.


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