Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips, ORTT, QC
Former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago
Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips (20 April 1933 - 16 January 2014) was an advocate and Barrister-at-Law (Trail LAwyer) who had practiced extensively in English-speaking jurisdictions in the Caribbean. He was a former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and a former judge of the International Criminal Court. He was also Lead Counsel in the murder trial of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
Early life and education
Born on 20 April 1933, Karl Hudson-Phillips, received his early education in Trinidad, where he was born, and proceeded to the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom). He graduated B.A. in Law in 1955 and then proceeded to do a postgraduate degree at the same university, graduating LLB in 1956 with specialisation in English Company Law and Comparative Law. Hudson-Phillips read law at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge;in 1959 when he was called to the bar at Gray's Inn, London. He returned to Trinidad and Tobago where he established a distinguished legal practice and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1970 after only 11 years in practice.
He served as a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 1976. Between 1969 and 1973 he served as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. During his tenure of office, he was also in charge of the legislative programme of the Government and successfully piloted major law reform measures in the areas of Industrial Relations, Family Law and Criminal Law. In addition, he was the standing representative of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to the Law of the Sea Conference and was Leader of the Trinidad and Tobago Delegation to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in Singapore in January 1971.
In this capacity as Attorney General he was associated with the dreaded "Public Order Act" which was proposed by the People's National Movement government in response to the Black Power riots and Army Mutiny of 1970. In 1973 he fell out of favour with then Prime Minister Eric Williams (for openly campaigning to replace Williams, who had spoken about retirement). He resigned as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs on 12 September 1973, effectively ending his political career in the PNM.
In 1974 Hudson-Phillips founded the National Land Tenants and Ratepayers Association of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1980 he founded the Organisation for National Reconstruction, a political party which contested the 1981 General Elections. Despite getting the second-highest vote tally in the election, the ONR failed to secure a single seat in Parliament. The ONR went on to form an accommodation with the National Alliance to contest the 1983 local government elections, and went on the merge with those parties (United Labour Front [ULF] and Democratic Action Congree [DAC] of Tobago) to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR). Hudson-Phillips and Basdeo Panday, as the leaders of the two largest factions in what became the NAR decided to step aside and allow A.N.R. Robinson, leader of one of the smaller parties, to become party leader. The NAR contested the 1986 general elections and won 33 of the 36 seats in Parliament. However, Hudson-Phillips did not take an active role in the party after the election (allegedly due to disagreements with A.N.R. Robinson).
During his career, in addition to being an elected member of parliament, Hudson-Phillips served as a Director of several companies, Chairman of BWIA International Airways Ltd. (1987-1990), and Chairman of Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. (TSTT, 1987-1991). He was previously Chairman of TEXTEL - the national external telecommunications carrier, that was subsequently merged with TELCO , the internal carrier, to form TSTT.
In addition to the Grenada murder trial, Hudson-Phillips has been involved in many high-profile cases throughout the Caribbean, as both Presecutor and Defender. In 1999 he was elected President of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
In February 2003, Hudson-Phillips was elected to the first ever bench of International Criminal Court judges. As "dean of the judges", he chaired the first meetings of judges before the election of the Presidency. He also contributed actively to the drafting of the Regulations of the Court. He resigned from the court for personal reasons on 14 March 2007.
On 23 July 2010, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, President of the UN Human Rights Council, announced that Hudson-Phillips would head a panel of experts to investigate whether Israel's Gaza flotilla raid on 31 May 2010 breached international law. Along with Hudson-Phillips, the panel includes Briton Desmond Lorenz de Silva and Malaysian Mary Shanthi Dairiam.
Honours and awards
In 2010, Hudson-Phillips, was a recipient of the Order of the Republic Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT), the country's higest honour.
Karl Hudson-Phillips died peacefully in his sleep in London on 16 Janaury 2014, where he was visiting with family. He was 80.