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Tributes paid to David Burgess

29 October 2010

Tributes have been paid to David Burgess, one of the UK’s leading immigration solicitors, who was allegedly pushed under a train at King’s Cross station earlier this week.

David, also known in his private life as Sonia, was dressed as a woman when he died.

He worked at north London firm Luqmani Thompson & Partners and for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

He was best known as a founding partner of Winstanley Burgess, where he acted in a number of high-profile cases such Chahal v UK at the European Court of Human Rights.

Funda Kanzu, clinical manager at the Medical Foundation, met Burgess when she was working as an interpreter for Winstanley Burgess.

“Initially he was the brilliant solicitor we all admired very much,” she said.

Kanzu got to know Burgess as a friend when they travelled to Canada in the summer of 1993 to interview Kurdish asylum seekers.

A few years later she lost touch with him, but was delighted when Burgess joined the Medical Foundation in 2005, to read and check medico-legal reports for asylum seekers.

“I had knowledge of his cross-dressing which I respected as part of him,” said Kanzu. “Many people did not know and found out through the press.

“We loved and respected him. He was very gentle and extremely modest, but, when it came to injustice, he was a tiger. He was dedicated to human rights and trying to make the world a better place.”

A statement on the Luqmani Thompson website read: “We are immensely saddened by the death of David Burgess, an enormously talented practitioner, an inspiration to a generation of lawyers practising in this field, and a great friend.

“David’s contribution to legal development is unquestionable but what is sometimes forgotten is that he was a pioneer in setting legal tests and trends in genuinely trailblazing cases.

“This firm has tried hard to live up to the high standards set by David. We would not have been the same firm without his contribution and encouragement; we shall not be the same firm without him.”

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