Admission Of Sheriffs

The big day, Friday, 27 September, finally arrived. Chris Hayward CC and I were sworn in as Sheriffs of the City of London. Here we are just coming out of Guildhall together after swearing our oaths and on our way to the traditional sumptuous Break-fast.

We now have a formal job description. Links if you want to follow the story so far, and as it unfolds;

or hear it from Ian Harris’s perspective. If you like spectacle, the please do browse the photos –

At the Break-fast, we had two magnificent addresses:

“THE RETIRING SHERIFFS”, Proposed by His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, The Recorder of London, and “THE SHERIFFS”, Proposed by Professor Jo Delahunty QC, Gresham College.

Then I responded followed by Chris. My remarks went like this:

A Word Of Thanks

Friday, 27 September 2019, Guildhall

Fellow Sheriff, Mr Recorder, My Lords, Aldermen, Chief Commoner, Masters, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We’ve had the most wonderful and innovative meal, planned by past Master Cook Mark Grove and executed perfectly by his team.  We hope you liked the football theme – a dessert sculpture for our year that I call “football for peace” – a Pattenmaker’s shoe kicking round a World Trader’s globe.  We thank the Cook & Butler team immensely.

In the medieval era, a Break-Fast meant just that, breaking a fast.  For any devout person taking up a new position of substance, he or she would fast and pray through the night, then be admitted the following morning, and celebrate by eating for the first time with colleagues, friends, and family.  Chris and I are no different. 

We are two of the most qualified individuals for a medieval post of substance such as Sheriff.  As our families know, we ate nothing since midnight and broke our fast this afternoon with you over canapés.  As you can see, we have practiced for years to be become Sheriffs by breaking many fasts.  Over the year to come we intend to break many many more.

Chris and I have been a team in Broad Street Ward with John Bennett and John Scott, and even more of a team since our election in June, and we’ll be a team this weekend, tomorrow on the Thames and Sunday at the Sheepdrive on London Bridge.  This talk has been a team effort.  I’ll start, and Chris shall finish.

The enduring Shrieval theme is “Primacy of Rule of Law” .  What do Sheriffs do?  First and foremost we support the Lord Mayor. Our second job is to support the Judges, as our two predecessors, Vincent and Liz, have done so ably.  As have many predecessors, Tim and Neil, Peter and William, Charles and Christine, and so on back to the 7th Century.  It is a daunting list of 13 centuries of breakfasts.  As Jo said, “a long-term vista”.

For every Lord Mayor the Rule of Law is the most abiding, underlying theme whatever other objectives he or she promotes.  At its most basic level the Rule Of Law is the concept that both the government and citizens know the law and obey it.   “…most of the content of the Rule Of Law can be summed up in two points:

(1) that the people (including, one should add, the government) should be ruled by the law and obey it and

(2) that the law should be such that people will be able (and, one should add, willing) to be guided by it.”

Geoffrey de Q Walker, The Rule Of Law: Foundation Of Constitutional Democracy, (1st Ed., 1988).

For too many people, the importance of the Rule of Law is often either unrecognised or taken for granted.  We have recently seen the importance of this concept to British society.  Rule of Law is fundamental to trade and commerce.  The Sheriffs help amplify that message to businesses, schools, universities, cultural institutions, diplomats, charities, and the City Livery. 

So Chris and my first set of thanks must go to the judiciary and legal communities for all they do for us, especially our new landlords, all those at the Central Criminal Court, the “Old Bailey”.

To Jo Delahunty, my fellow Gresham Professor, as our principal guest, may Chris and I thank you so sincerely for your challenging words – to hold a mirror to ourselves and our nation.  Your call for justice, your call to defending our standards, your call to meeting them, these are the messages the City wants to hear and wants to achieve in these challenging times.

Mr Recorder we give thanks for your remarks today, but moreover, to you, the Common Serjeant, all the Judges, and members of the legal community here today we give thanks.  Without you holding up the foundations of our society, all else is, as we might say in the City, moot.

Chris will extend many other thanks we both wish to make.  But there are two groups of people I must thank personally.  The first is my Shrieval Chain Committee.  The Committee was led by Sir David Wootton, with my campaign manager and Committee Secretary Ruby Sayed, and Joint Committee Secretary Lars Andersen, with my friend Robert Woodthorpe Browne as Treasurer, and many dear supporters.  I must single out special thanks to Sir David Lewis and Archie Galloway who started me along this path many years ago. 

As an immigrant, and experiencing the opportunity to be the first American Sheriff and first Italian Sheriff, as well as being Irish and British, with my wife Elisabeth as a German, our City life is witness to the very ethos of the City, the one celebrated in the pantomime of a former Broad Street Alderman, Dick Whittington – an open, tolerant community of merchants, creating prosperity, sharing success, and enriching their environment, supported by a fantastic judiciary.

The second group Chris cannot thank are Elisabeth and my families.  Some travelled here with other friends from eight time zones away, others from the Continent.  You have all been such wonderful encouragement to Elisabeth and me and we are honoured that you came today to support us.

As I conclude, may I share the motto of my mother livery, the World Traders, that says so much to all of us in this wonderful City of London, “Commerce and honest friendship with all”.

Thank you.