Tributes have been paid to the campaigning lawyer, Frank Maguire, who has died aged 55. The joint managing partner of Thompsons Solicitors, he died at home in Ayrshire after a long battle with cancer, his family at his side.
A specialist in personal injury and health and safety law, Mr Maguire came to prominence first through his work representing trade unions following the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 and then through his long struggle to win justice for those who had been exposed to asbestos at work or who suffered with hepatitis C through infected blood.
His firm has been appointed to represent all transfusion and haemophiliac victims at the Penrose Inquiry, set up by the Scottish government two years ago. It is gathering evidence on how hundreds of people in Scotland were given contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s.
In a statement, the Maguire family said: “Frank’s wife, Fiona, and their sons, Calum, Matthew, Luke and John, would very much like to thank all those who have been concerned in Frank’s care, especially over recent weeks.”
“Our heartfelt sympathies lie with Fiona, the boys, and Frank’s immediate family,” said Syd Smith, joint managing partner at Thompsons Solicitors. “Frank Maguire combined a a razor-sharp intellect with a passionate commitment to fight for justice for victims, particularly those suffering from industrial diseases like asbestos exposure and Hep C.
“His loss will be keenly felt by everyone who knew him, but particularly his colleagues at Thompsons, his fellow campaigners, politicians at Holyrood and Westminster, the legal profession and the trade union movement.”
Having interviewed Mr Maguire several times though the years, he always struck me as a man of great integrity, strength of character and determination. That was also reflected in the admiration and indeed affection of those whom he represented, sometimes without reward.
That determination was demonstrated last year when he won a major victory for the victims of asbestos-related illness when Lord Emslie threw out a bid by insurers to block a law passed by the Scottish parliament which confirmed the right to compensation.
Leading the tributes to Mr Maguire at Holyrood was the Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, who described him as “a true champion for the underdog. His tireless campaigns for the victims of Hepatitis C blood contamination and former shipyard workers, their families and others affected by asbestos-related diseases, will live on as a tribute to him.
“As legal adviser to many of the UK’s leading trade unions, Frank’s advice and counsel led to many victories for ordinary men and women seeking compensation from rogue employers. He will be sorely missed.”
The funeral arrangements will be announced later in the week.