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The Death Penalty Project pays tribute to Professor Nigel Eastman

  • News
  • 4 Mar 2022

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Nigel Eastman eminent forensic psychiatrist, founding member of Forensic Psychiatry Chambers, barrister and friend of The Death Penalty Project, who passed away suddenly on 17 February 2022.

Nigel Eastman’s impressive career spanned both the medical and legal worlds, as Professor Emeritus of Law and Ethics in Psychiatry in the University of London, Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in the National Health Service, and qualified barrister who was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn. He published research across both fields and acted as advisor to the Law Commission and UK government, as well as being a member of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister of State’s Expert Group on the death penalty.

Nigel’s commitment to enhancing the knowledge of lawyers, judges and doctors in psychiatry saw him conduct extensive training as well as publishing research and writing educational resources. He played a fundamental role in shaping our work with local partners, building the knowledge and practical skills of mental health professionals around the world and encouraging them to engage with the criminal justice system. Nigel was the mastermind and co-author of our Handbook and Casebook on Forensic Psychiatric Practice and delivered training sessions to judges, lawyers and mental health experts all over the world.  Most recently, Nigel helped us to design and deliver an online curriculum for psychiatrists in Bangladesh. The course, aimed at medical professionals acting as expert witnesses in criminal legal proceedings, will support the identification of serious mental health issues in criminal cases and strengthen the protections for people with mental health conditions in serious criminal cases.

In addition to his enormous academic and capacity building achievements, Nigel was regularly instructed as an expert witness in death penalty cases.  He was, in fact, the first forensic psychiatrist we ever instructed, and at the time, the only one prepared to act pro bono. For the following 25 years, Nigel continued to assess death row prisoners, prepare the most thorough psychiatric reports to court and appear as an expert witness.

Integral to the work and success  of the The Death Penalty Project for over two decades, Nigel will be deeply missed. We are extremely grateful for his generous contribution to our work and honoured to have been able to call him a friend as well as a colleague and ally in the fight towards global abolition of the death penalty.

Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar, Co-Executive Directors of The Death Penalty Project, said:

“from the very first case of Winston Solomon in Trinidad, in which he wrote an urgent last-minute report that was admitted as fresh evidence and resulted in the quashing of an unsafe conviction, to the many other cases over succeeding years, Nigel became an important expert in our work before courts and international tribunals. It was a huge undertaking and involved assessing death row inmates in far from ideal conditions. Nigel’s efforts and expertise saved the lives of many people with serious mental health conditions facing the death penalty. They had previously never been seen by a mental health expert, let alone a forensic psychiatrist of Nigel’s eminence. We will miss him and will always be grateful for the enormous impact he made to The Death Penalty Project and the people we assist.”

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