It is with great sadness that I convey the passing of one of our longest serving and most respected ABI family, yet another victim of this dreadful pandemic.
George was admitted to hospital after feeling unwell just a day after arriving in Switzerland and was tested positive for covid-19. Despite some early signs that he would win this battle, he passed away on the 20h April 2020.
I knew of George Devlin quite some time before I actually knew the man himself, as the first meetings I attended as a newly elected member of the ABI Governing Council in 1986/7 took place at George’s offices in Marylebone High Street, London.
We rarely saw him on these occasions but lunch was always laid on for us courtesy of George, offering tea, coffee and sandwiches and for those who preferred even bottles of beer. His generosity and willingness to help became more apparent to me in later years and I have several memories of when this was displayed, quietly and without fuss. He was also an active Trustee of the ABI Benevolent Fund for many years.
Born in Belfast, George moved to London as a young boy and his natural grasp and understanding of the law together with his tenacity soon found him undertaking enquiries for local solicitors in London’s East End.
He joined ABI in the late 1960’s and was elected by his peers as President in 1976.
During the 1970’s the UK underwent a number of social changes and newly introduced laws saw an increase for instance in divorces due mainly to the Reform Act of 1969. This naturally had a knock on effect for our members and George and the GC of the day worked hard to put in place new guidelines to ensure compliance.
Clearly George’s capabilities soon came to the attention of some of the City’s leading law firms who were involved in high level cases. His experience and reputation saw him being sought after to undertake in-depth investigation work in a number of cases which also highlighted his skill in appearing for clients in court as a McKenzie Friend.
Some of these historical cases are well documented and I can only suggest that those who may be interested need only Google George’s name, I think you may be surprised. Some media reports even referred to George as a lawyer, which is not surprising.
Despite his supposed retirement, up until the year before last he confided in me that he was acting for a client in a multi-million pound appeal case, which took him to a Court in Israel as well as Court in the UK. Out of interest he kept me updated when he could and then rang me to say the case had finally concluded with his client winning a huge claim. In fact George was nominated as ABI Investigator of the Year in 2018 for this achievement but had to be persuaded to be nominated.
The loss to ABI will obviously be felt more by those older members who knew George, and I suppose those are now in a minority.
We have lost not only a colleague, but to some an old friend. We enjoyed time together at the same banquet table at the ABI annual meetings for many years. In fact we had already booked our places for this year’s AGM.
I will always remember George as a gentleman, but with a wicked sense of humour. RIP.
Click here for The Times Obituary