Freak shotgun accident kills barrister

A well-known Norfolk barrister has died after a shotgun was discharged accidentally during a grouse shooting expedition. Stephen Franklin, 57, who practiced at East Anglian Chambers in Cathedral Close, Norwich, suffered fatal injuries following the accident on farmland near Frosterley, north of County Durham, last Friday.

A well-known Norfolk barrister has died after a shotgun was discharged accidentally during a grouse shooting expedition.

Stephen Franklin, 57, who practiced at East Anglian Chambers in Cathedral Close, Norwich, suffered fatal injuries following the accident on farmland near Frosterley, north of County Durham, last Friday.

Last night his widow Julie, 51, said that her husband was being towed in a trailer behind a quad bike up the moor when the accident happened. She said the trailer rocked after going over a bog and the gun went off, killing her husband instantly.

He was due to come home that evening and had gone on one last grouse shoot after failing to get any birds the previous day.

Mr Franklin, who lived at Wacton, near Long Stratton, was a trustee of the Earsham-based Otter Trust and was with an employee on trust land in County Durham when the accident happened.

Mrs Franklin said: “My husband will be terribly missed by such a lot of people. Professionally he was very well liked and he was a wonderful family man. In his last phone calls he said how much he was enjoying the beautiful countryside. We are all devastated.”

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The couple have two daughters Jade, 24, and Faye, 17.

Mrs Franklin said her husband enjoyed a wide variety of interests, particularly sailing. He also played the trumpet and had recently learnt to play the saxophone. “He had a great sense of humour and he was a great Elvis fan,” she added.

A police spokesman said that Mr Franklin's death is not being treated as suspicious. A police investigation is ongoing and officers from the Health and Safety Executive are also investigating.

Last night Mr Franklin's chambers said in a statement: “As a member of chambers Stephen was appreciated for his intellect, quiet courtesy, and general unflappability. As well as having the ability quickly to gain the confidence of his clients, those qualities meant that he was an advocate who was listened to with respect both by his opponents and by the judges in front of whom he appeared. His friendship and kindness will be hugely missed by all at East Anglian Chambers. Our heartfelt thoughts go to Stephen's family.”

Having graduated from Durham University, Mr Franklin was called to the Bar in 1974 and practiced for five years from Park Square, Leeds, before joining what is now Fenners Chambers in Cambridge.

Mr Franklin obtained a three year appointment as Crown Counsel in Hong Kong in 1982 and, upon its conclusion, moved into private practice from barristers' chambers in Hong Kong.

Returning with his wife and daughters to Norfolk in 1996, Mr Franklin re-joined Fenners, maintaining a good civil practice in Hong Kong to which he would return periodically each year. He moved to East Anglian Chambers in 2001.

Mr Franklin had a broad range of common law expertise, although in recent years the emphasis had been towards construction work and partnership disputes often involving substantial claims.

His high profile cases included acting for the first defendant, Rentokil, in what was described by the trial judge as the most complex personal injury case ever litigated in Hong Kong. The case involved 80 days in court.

Mr Franklin's funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Boston Spa, Yorkshire, on Friday September 7 at 1pm.

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