Jason Solomons is a respected film critic on BBC News, Sky News and BBC Radio.
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Farewell fearless Karl
He was described as ruthless, arrogant, too hasty and controversial, but for those who knew Queen’s Counsel Karl Hudson-Phillips, he was nothing short of warm, hard-working, charming, fearless and down-to-earth. This was how former ambassador Reginald Dumas yesterday summed up the life of Hudson-Phillips while delivering the eulogy at his funeral service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-of-Spain. Hudson-Phillips, 80, a legal luminary and political pioneer, died on January 15 in England.
The service was attended by hundreds of mourners, including President Anthony Carmona, acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, government ministers and members of the legal fraternity. They gathered to bid farewell to the country’s former attorney general and judge of the International Criminal Court.
The homily was read by Rev Clive Abdulah, who said Hudson-Phillips was a giant of the old school. Abdulah also chastised church and political leaders for failing to give citizens hope. Reginald Dumas knew Hudson-Phillip for more than 65 years, having attended Queen’s Royal College (QRC) with him. Dumas said many had described his friend as arrogant and astute, some even calling him “ruthless,” while others looked at him as being “elite.”
“But to those who knew Hudson,” said Dumas, “he had a warm, common touch about him. He was seen as aloof but was charming.”
‘He was feared by many’
All these things, Dumas said, indicated a multi-dimensional personality. At times, Dumas said, Hudson-Phillips was “hasty...too hasty,” but he worked hard. Even though Hudson-Phillips was feared by many, which prompted calypsonian Hollis Liverpool to pen a song after him, Dumas said Hudson-Phillips took his blows and never forget his humble beginnings.
Dumas said Hudson-Phillips was not perfect: he had faced academic challenges while in Form Five at QRC, for which he was heckled by his classmates; but he continued to strive for excellence. He said one thing Hudson-Phillips was noted for was his fearlessness; he had even written a letter to the late Dr Eric Williams to take action against one of his government ministers who was flouting the law.
Dumas said there were many qualities to admire in Hudson-Phillips, but the two that stood out for him were his leadership style in the Organisation for National Reconstruction, and his integrity. Hudson-Phillips, he said, also fought against corruption. “He was a fearless man...that alone made him a target,” said Dumas, “and even in the midst of his passing, the venom persists.” Trying hard to contain his tears, Dumas said: “Hudson was not only my friend. Part of me is gone and it is not going to come back.”
‘Shoes too big to fill’
Children Jennifer, Sarah and Kevin spoke highly of their father. Jennifer, from Hudson-Phillips’ first marriage, said he “emulated what was best. We are better off having shared his smile. No stones were left unturned with him.” She said one of the things her dad would always tell her was: “Do not let your heart be troubled.” Daughter Sarah gave a snapshot of the life she shared with her father, stating that tough love was his style.
Sarah said the last e-mail her father sent her was full of praise and advice: “You have done brilliantly with little stumbles. You must steer the course. You did better than I did in my time,” Sarah said, choked with emotion. His last advice to Sarah was “to continue to work your butt off.” Sarah, who is studying medicine in London, said there would never be another man in her life like her father.
“I am the luckiest girl to be able to stand next to you, proud to ever call you my father. Dad, your legacy is your honour.” Hudson-Phillips’ son Kevin, a financial consultant in London, remembered the last e-mail his father forwarded to him. In it, his dad said he was interested in purchasing a boat, but had a change of heart because of his age and “your mother will howl with disapproval.” Kevin said his father spoke about wanting to go in the garden to prune the trees, but complained that he did not have the muscle to do the job.
Kevin recalled that Hudson-Phillips also urged him to set his goals for the next ten years, and praised his dad: “Dad, you gave me direction, guidance and freedom, and I am a man today because of you.”
Ramesh breaks down in tears
Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, yesterday broke down in tears as he paid final respects during Karl Hudson-Phillips’s funeral service. Maharaj, a close and dear friend of Hudson-Phillips, attended the funeral along with his wife Lynette, also a SC. Following the service, Maharaj said Hudson-Phillips’ loss was a heavy blow for him.
“I don’t think the life of Karl would be difficult for anyone to follow. But if it is one thing we should learn, is that he was a man of honesty and integrity.” Maharaj said Hudson-Phillips believed that in politics there should be no corruption and high standards of public life should always be maintained. “I think that is relevant in our society today.”