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John Calvert Griffiths QC CMG was the Attorney General of Hong Kong[1] from 1979 to 1983.

John Calvert Griffiths

John Calvert Griffiths

(1931-01-16) 16 January 1931 (age 88)
ResidenceHong Kong and the UK
EducationSaint Peter's, York
Emmanuel College, Cambridge University
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Spouse(s)1st Elizabeth Jessamy Jean Crowden
2nd Marie Charlotte Biddulph
Parent(s)Oswald Griffiths
Christina Flora Griffiths (nee Littlejohn)


Early lifeEdit

Griffiths was born in Persia, now Iran,[citation needed] on 16 January 1931. He is the son of Oswald Hardy Griffiths and Christina Flora Griffiths (née Littlejohn).[2]

He was educated at St. Peter's School, York where he was a scholar. He then did his National Service from 1949 to 1950 and held the rank of Lieutenant.

He then attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1955 and a Master of Arts in 1960.

Legal Practice in EnglandEdit

Griffiths was called to the bar of the Middle Temple in 1956. He was appointed a Recorder in 1972, a position he held until 1990.

He was made a Queen's Counsel in 1972.[3]

He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Inns of Court and the Bar from 1973 to 1977 and a member of the Senate between 1984 and 1986.

Attorney General of Hong KongEdit

Griffiths first came to Hong Kong in 1976 to prosecute the Ma brothers for importing heroin in a triad case which garnered the involvement of the CIA.[4]

Three years later, in 1979, Griffiths was appointed Attorney General of Hong Kong.

In his capacity as Attorney General, he served on the Hong Kong Executive Council and Legislative Council. He also served as Chairman of the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission.

He served as Attorney General until 1983 and was succeeded by Michael Thomas QC.

Post AG practiceEdit

After stepping down as Attorney General, Griffiths entered private practice as a barrister in Hong Kong and England, handling both civil and criminal matters. He succeeded Neil Kaplan Q.C. as Head of Chambers of Des Voeux Chambers in 1990. He retired from full-time practice in 2012, but still remains a door tenant at Des Voeux Chambers.[5]

In 1984 and 1985 he headed an inquiry in England into the membership of the House of Fraser.[6]

In Hong Kong, he defended Chim Pui-Chung in a costly, 131-day-long trial in the late 1990s.[7] He also represented Lucille Fung, wife of retired judge Miles Henry Jackson-Lipkin, but withdrew when her state of mind made discussions with her difficult.[8]

He acted for Nancy Kissel when she was charged with the murder of her husband.

Griffiths also acted in the following cases:[9]

  • Representing a leading firm of developers against the Housing Authority, in relation to the Private Sector Participation Scheme.
  • Representing New World Development Co. Ltd to apply for leave for Judicial Review about arguments regarding the proposed listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • advising a leading property firm against the Government about work conditions regarding Times Square.
  • advising the Oriental Daily News in respect of a libel claim.
  • representing a famous Cantonese singer in a claim involving tax.
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Williams Dixon Hobley
Attorney General of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Michael David Thomas


  1. ^ Wesley-Smith, Peter (1988). Constitutional & administrative law in Hong Kong: text and materials. China and Hong Kong Law Studies. p. 468.
  2. ^ Unless otherwise noted biographical information from Griffiths Who's Who 2012 entry
  3. ^ London Gazette, 13 April 1972 p4378 and 18 July 1972, p4593 (correction)
  4. ^ Griffiths CV, Des Voeux Chambers, Jan 2012
  5. ^ "DesVoeuxChambers". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  6. ^ Hansard, HC Deb 19 March 1985 vol 75 c440W
  7. ^ Vines, Stephen (3 August 1998). "Peking's rich friend guilty but unbowed". The Independent. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Justin (29 March 2006). "Court delves into confused mind of ex-justice's wife". The Standard. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  9. ^ taken from Griffiths Des Voeux Chambers CV, January 2012