Bullstrode Whitelocke KC
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Justinian in Bullstrode Whitelocke KC, On the Couch

Author, hunter, orator, barrister, lover, philosopher, mimic, poet, teacher, statesman. Bullstrode Whitelocke shows us his other side

Bullstrode Whitelocke KC  is one of Australia’s most celebrated barristers, politicians, philanthropists and bon vivants.

He is the 32nd chalker of the Cerne Abbas Giant and was the United Australia Party candidate for the bellwether seat of Eden Monaro at the recent federal election.

He has self-published thousands of books, festschrifts, novellas, poems and white papers.

His most recent treatise, Whitelocke: On Lawmanship 3rd Edition, is considered the definitive text on the crucial but often misunderstood concept of lawmanship and reportedly sits on the bedside tables of a persuasive minority of the High Court of Australia.  
Today, in his late 80s, Bullstrode is as busy as ever. He divides his time between work engagements, teaching and leisure.

A successful and ever-popular after dinner speaker, Bullstrode is able to speak for hours on any subject of his choosing: more often than not Greek philosopher Heraclitus, the evils of Richie Benaud or the rule in Hadley v Baxendale.

He has proved an innovative entertainer, wowing audiences with after-dinner filibusters, hilarious impersonations of Sir Henry Parkes and lengthy recitals of his award-winning Latin limericks.

In his personal time, Whitelocke enjoys quietly reflecting on the common law and hunting.

Whitelocke is said to have shot over 500 cassowaries on his vast game ranch in the Daintree, almost three quarters of the known population.

Describe yourself in three words.
Intentionally left blank.

What are you currently reading?
As airport reading and between the third and fourth chukkas, I generally read "The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes", Pastoureau, M. 2004 Washington Square Press.

In my lighter moments, I dip into "Banking: Law, Theory and Practice", Emanuel, Montague R. London. Virtue, 1926. (A corpulent work that nevertheless touches on enough of the key points to satisfy the ill-educated.)

Of course I would be remiss not to mention the dog eared copy of "The Separation of Canon and Common Law: Eight (8) Centuries of Legal Madness", Whitelocke, B. Sydney 2004 (self-published) that is my constant companion.

What's your favourite film?
I have a soft spot for the 1985 film "Return to Oz". I have no idea what constituted a "children's movie" in the mid-1980s but, in the name of God, Lord Diplock, and all other things sacred, this is surely the scariest film ever made.

I make all juniors watch it and am told its effect is resounding, given my unrelated insistence that my domestic staff travel around my chambers on roller blades and my familial tradition of preserving the heads of deceased relatives in large jars.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
Although I find it hard to look past the Lion of Bradfield, Dr Brendan Nelson, I would have to nominate Heraclitus. The incoherent and wildly contradictory teachings of the Weeping Philosopher make my life a daily roller coaster ride of moral ambiguity.

What occupation would you like to have, if you weren't a barrister?
My booming baritone voice, directionless righteous indignation and profound suspicion of immigrants, government and "the man" mean that I would have been equally well qualified to be a talk-back radio host, Nationals senator or taxi driver.

What is your favourite piece of music?
"All Rise": English quartet Blue's edgy, urban tribute to the common law protections provided by the jury trial. Never has Magna Carta sounded so good.

What is your most recognised talent?
Whilst I dislike speaking about myself, I have identified 2 widely recognised talents:

1. Circular breathing. This talent means I do not have to pause to draw breath during any courtroom submissions or other speaking engagement. This makes it almost impossible to interject.

2. Sartorial splendour. I am well known for changing my ensemble numerous times a day during a hearing to maximise the impact of my advocacy, with important cross-examinations conducted whilst wearing the pelt of a Ross Leopard Seal I slaughtered in the Antarctic. That prince of a skin is a full eight (8) feet long and its impact on witnesses is undeniable.

What is your greatest fear?
For a long time, my greatest fear was to be written about by Peter Roebuck. The acidity of his pen appears to have subsided, so my greatest fear is now sans serif fonts.

What words or phrases do you overuse?
"Your honour, may I request a brief adjournment to enable us to sing another rendition of God Save the King."

What is your greatest regret?
My ongoing complicity in the fusion fallacy.

Whom do you envy and why?
Phillip Seymor Hoffman.

What is currently obsessing you?
The quest for a fifth category in Masters v Cameron.

What's your most glamorous feature?
My high cheekbones. I've often been told I look like a slightly older Andrew Refshauge.

If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
Truffles: Mysterious, sought-after, expensive and constantly hunted by swine and Frenchmen.

What human traits do you most distrust?
Red hair. Everyone knows that those possessing high levels of the reddish pigment pheomelanin are aggressive, prone to wild mood swings and unreliable. Kerry O'Brien and Mick Hucknall are ample evidence of this.

What would you change about Australia?
Federation. I would disband all levels of government and have Australia ruled by krytocracy.

I am also concerned at the discriminatory age ceiling for appointment to the High Court, which (given that I am deep into my 80s) may prevent me from resuming my rightful place on the bench.

Whom or what do you consider overrated?
The Factory Laws and Braith Anasta.

Do you ever use a breath-freshener?
Only when hunting the arctic fox. That most skittish of game is uniquely alert to the scent of human breath.  I manufacture my own freshener, to perfectly replicate the odour of caribou breath, from rubbing alcohol, pomade, tiger balm and the judgments of Lord Denning (widely considered a breath of fresh air).

What would your epitaph say?
Bullstrode Whitelocke (known as the Black Prince of Champerty and the Velvet Salamander) 1921 - [  ].  Died the way he lived: surrounded by friends, hunting dogs and startled cassowary, in a hail of bullets.

What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word "law"?
I always think back to a dress-up party hosted by William Gummow where Kirby J came dressed as equity.  It was profoundly awkward.

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (http://justinian.com.au/).
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