Skip to content ↓

View entry

Back to search results

Name: RUSSELL, Robert Ernest Gordon 'Pat' (Major)

image of individual

Nee: son of Ernest Gordon Russell

Birth Date: 1904 Belfast

Death Date: 6 Nov 2000 Nairobi

First Date: 1930

Profession: Advocate, Kisumu

Area: Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu

Married: 1. Hilary Barden b. 16 May 1904 Toddington, Beds., d. 119 Jan 961 Redruth 2. 1962 Elizabeth

Children: son (22 Nov 1934 Kisumu); another son

Book Reference: Golf, Sitrep 2, Sundown, Hut, Masonic, Telegraph Obit.

School: Imperial Services College (Haileybury)

General Information:

KR 784. No birthdate in KR records.
Club Champion at Nyanza Golf Club in 1939. Captain of Nyanza Golf Club in 1939. Pre-war volunteer to the Kenya Regiment (KR 784). Climbed Mt Kenya - Batian with Eric Shipton in 1930.
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Nyanza Voters List
Masonic - Hon. G.D. of C.
Telegraph - 6 Nov 2000 - R E G "PAT" RUSSELL, who has died aged 96, was a High Court judge in Uganda from 1965 until 1975 and in 1970 presided at the inquiry into the curious affair of the British diplomat Brian Lea. Russell had moved to Uganda shortly after the war to set up his own legal practice. Following his appointment to the bench, he conducted several judicial inquiries. None aroused as much interest as that into the case of Lea, who had fallen in with a plan to fake his own abduction as a means of drawing attention to the plight of Ugandan Asians who held British passports but were unable to obtain entry to Britain.  Counsel representing Lea put it to the inquiry that his client had been tricked into visiting an island in Lake Victoria, supposedly to investigate a plan for Asians to enter Britain secretly, and that three days later he had been kidnapped. But after hearing more than 50 witnesses, Russell declared the kidnapping "bogus", and described Lea as a "weak and unstable but emotional character who most imprudently became associated with Asians on extremely familiar terms". Lea, Russell added, was undoubtedly affected by the plight of Asian holders of British passports in Uganda.
Russell later held an inquiry into President Milton Obote's arrest and detention of five of his ministers in 1966. The hearing was held in camera and Russell's findings were never revealed; the former ministers remained in detention until 1971 when Obote was overthrown by his army commander Idi Amin. In 1973, Russell was in his chambers in the High Court in Kampala when Uganda's Chief Justice, Benedicto Kinanuka, was taken by Amin's soldiers from the adjoining room and murdered. This experience perhaps influenced Russell in his decision to decline Amin's invitation to stay longer in Uganda. Instead, he moved to Kenya, where he practised as an advocate until he was 91.
Robert Ernest Gordon Russell was born in Dublin in 1904 and went to the Imperial Services College (later renamed Haileybury), where he excelled at cricket and boxing, for which he was English Public Schools Champion. By the time Pat left school, his father was practising law in Nairobi, and it was there that he took his matriculation examination for training as a solicitor. He returned to England to qualify and after being admitted a solicitor went back to Kenya and set up a practice at Nakuru in 1927. He moved to Kisumu in 1933, attracted by business from the Kakamega gold rush. His work allowed time for cricket and golf (he played off scratch) and for mountaineering.
In 1930 he was a member of only the third party to reach the 17,058 ft summit of Mount Kenya (the party included the Everest climbers Eric Shipton and Wyn Harris). On the outbreak of war in 1939, he enlisted as a private in the King's African Rifles. He was mentioned in despatches during the campaign in Ethiopia which enabled Emperor Haile Selassie to return from exile in 1941. He was then abruptly promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the British military administration in Ethiopia and charged with establishing a judicial system. Medieval conditions in the country, combined with limited resources, made this a formidable task. The Emperor, however, was sufficiently impressed by Russell's efforts to offer him the Presidency of the Ethiopian High Court when Britain withdrew from Addis Ababa - an offer which Russell declined. Pat Russell's first wife Hilary died in 1961. He is survived by his second wife Elizabeth, whom he married in 1962, and by two sons from his first marriage.
Hut - Advocate, son of 'Boom-Boom' Russell, married to Elizabeth
See also Ernest Gordon Russell

Back to search results