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Judge dies on tennis court.

A leading Midland judge died of a suspected heart attack yesterday after collapsing while playing tennis at a Birmingham club.

Judge Malcolm Lee QC, who was 56, was taken ill at the Edgbaston Priory Club and died despite desperate attempts to save his life.

The father-of-six, who presided over the city's Mercantile Court, had been playing his regular Sunday morning game at the Priory where he had been a member for more than 20 years.

Last night, the judge's shocked son, Mr Oliver Lee, a Royal Marine, said the tragedy had come like a "bolt from the blue".

He said his father, who lived in Edgbaston, had been playing a friendly game with three friends when he collapsed early in the match.

A doctor, who was playing nearby, tried to resuscitate Judge Lee at the scene. Paramedics also tried to save his life but he was certified dead on arrival at Selly Oak Hospital.

Mr Lee, who lives in London, said his mother, Anne, and two of his sisters had been informed of the death in Tunisia, where they were on holiday, and were due to fly home. The judge and his wife had been separated for more than 15 years.

Mr Lee said: "This has come as an enormous shock to us all. Dad was a real family man who thought the world of his children.

"He also loved playing tennis and squash and had a real passion for walking and the countryside. His other great passion was reading, particularly the classics.

"He was very fit and healthy and played tennis every Sunday morning for years which has made his sudden death even more of a shock."

The judge's death is another blow to the Lee family, which has been beset by tragedy this year. Judge Lee's daughter Lydia was the girlfriend of a young barrister from Belbroughton, Worcestershire, who was killed in a freak accident while walking alongside a railway line in London.

Mr Ben Showell, aged 23, had been near the track when he was hit by a train in Brixton.

Mr Lee added: "This year has been a terrible year for our family with Ben's death and now with the death of our father it is almost unbelievable."

Oxford-educated Judge Lee was chairman of the Kinver Edge Trust in Staffordshire. The Lee family gave the land, now owned by the National Trust, to the nation in 1917.

Judge Lee leaves three sons, Oliver, who is 26, Dominic, aged 24 and Adrian, aged 21, as well as three daughters Lydia, aged 23, Flora, aged 20, and Georgina, aged 18. He also leaves a partner, Sarah Hunt.

Mr Brian Hirschfield , who is general manager at the Priory, said members had been left in a state of shock by the judge's death.

He said: "There are many of our members who are doctors and staff are trained in first aid. The very best help was on hand and efforts were made to try and revive Malcolm at the scene but nothing could be done.

"For such a thing to happen with no warning while he was just enjoying a game of tennis makes it all the more of a shock.

"Malcolm was a very friendly chap who was well-liked by everyone and will be sadly missed."

Mr Peter Wiseman, secretary of Birmingham Law Society, said Judge Lee would be missed both on a personal and professional level.

He said: "Malcolm was the first Mercantile Judge to be appointed in the Midlands. So far as the legal profession was concerned he combined intelligence and vigour with common sense.

"For someone so intelligent he came across as a very human person. The Mercantile Court was an immediate success as a direct result of his excellent stewardship. "

Judge Lee was appointed to the Midland and Oxford Circuit as a Circuit Judge as well as a Circuit Mercantile Judge, overseeing civil commercial cases, in October 1993.

He was born in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1943. Educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, he won a scholarship to Worcester College, Oxford, where he studied classics before being called to the Bar.

He came from a prominent Birmingham legal family. His mother, Mrs Fiona Lee, was a former leading light of the Birmingham magistracy. She died in March last year at the age of 83.

Mrs Lee, who lived in Harborne, Birmingham, became a JP for Birmingham and was on the juvenile panel before becoming its chairwoman from 1976 to 1979.
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Title Annotation:National
Author:Williams, Dale
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 30, 1999
Words:744
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