Senior Circuit Judge, Old Bailey 2005 – 2017
I have found that nothing worthwhile is achieved without working for it.
His Honour Judge Stephen Kramer QC, joined Hampton School almost 60 years ago and fondly recalls a ‘surprisingly’ enjoyable education which provided him with a good grounding academically, as well as friendships which remain to this day.
He recalls a much stricter regime than that experienced by today’s Hamptonians. In particular, he remembers History teacher, Ernie Badman, a strict disciplinarian with a penchant for outburst “both verbally and occasionally physical” but who achieved the desired results. “It is to him that I owe my distinction in A level history and my open exhibition at Keble College, Oxford,” he admits. School records show that Stephen immersed himself in Hampton life whether as a patrol leader in Junior Scouts, secretary of the Drama and History Societies and, further up the School, as Senior Prefect. He remembers feeling a sense of pride, riding to School on his bicycle, wearing a tribly hat as part of the prefect’s uniform and which “made me stand out a bit.”
After Hampton, Stephen headed to Oxford to study law. One of the first members of his family to attend university, he credits this success to the education and work ethic Hampton gave him. A calling to the law was instilled from a very early age: Stephen’s grandfather, Emil, was a lawyer in Mainz before World War II but fled to the UK in the 1930s as a refugee. Unable to continue in the legal profession in England, Emil used his expertise to assist many Jewish refugees, who had also escaped to England, to obtain financial restitution from the post-war German government. Stephen remembers stacks of legal documents piled high in his grandparents’ living room and believes his admiration for his grandfather’s pursuits of justice kindled within him his own love for the law.
His choice of profession was also influenced by one of his university tutors who said to him “bigger fools than you, Kramer, have gone to the Bar and succeeded!”
Following his heart and his tutor’s endorsement, Stephen studied international law in France before returning to England to begin life as a practising barrister. His skills at the Bar were quickly recognised and he gained widespread prominence in the profession. In 1995, he took Silk, and was appointed a Crown Court Circuit Judge in 2003. He became a Senior Judge at the Old Bailey two years later.
The former Judge presided over many high profile court cases throughout his career, including the notorious Baby P trials in 2009.
He says of his role “it is the best job in the judicial criminal firmament. The Bar is, or has in my case, been a profession requiring hard work, long hours, often at night and at weekends, application and the ability to put points over to lay people (juries, lay magistrates) and professionals (judges) alike. When that works, it is immensely satisfying. It is also a profession where there is a camaraderie that I think is unique.”
His message to today’s Hamptonians:
The Hampton School of today continues to provide the framework for success that was available even 50 years ago to me, provided that you apply yourselves. Take advantage of every opportunity the School gives you academically, culturally and in the sporting field. And the more you put in the more you are likely to enjoy life at Hampton and to achieve – even if there are some bumps in the road along the way.