Jeremy McMullen QC (1949-2015)

8 April, 2015

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is greatly saddened to hear of the death of Jeremy McMullen QC, one of the country’s leading judges on employment law and a Patron of the BHA. He died on 10 February at the age of 66, having led a long and successful career as a barrister and judge, culminating as one of the two permanent judges of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, also having sat on the Queens Branch Division and Central London County and Southwark Crown Courts.

A great supporter of Humanism, Jeremy once said ‘Humanism is the only rational explanation of life. It simply requires us to live compassionate lives, treating others with fairness and respect. It involves us seeing the best in all around us.’

Jeremy worked to defend the rights of working people throughout his career, beginning as a trade union officer at the GMB before becoming a barrister and a judge. As well as writing books on employment law – educating employees about fair treatment in the workplace – Jeremy made a number of landmark rulings in defence of workers against exploitative employers.

When the department store Woolworths closed in 2009, McMullen ruled in favour of the union Usdaw, changing a technical detail in employment law and requiring employers to double the time they consult with employees when considering a large number of redundancies. This brought the UK in line with the EU Directive on employment law and ensured all 27,000 Woolworths employees were treated fairly.

Outside of this, McMullen also ruled that women working as lap dancers in the adult entertainment industry – who suffered from a lack of employment rights, as nightclubs often treated them as self-employed workers – were indeed employees, and should be treated as such.

Jeremy had a humanist funeral and is survived by his wife Debbie, their son and daughter and two grandchildren.


See Jeremy’s obituary in the Guardian:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.