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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Spencer West announces sad loss of leading employment lawyer

Spencer West announces sad loss of leading employment lawyer


Dr John McMullen was often described as 'the King of TUPE'

Spencer West has announced the sad and sudden loss of friend and colleague, employment partner, Dr John McMullen (pictured).

The firm described John as a “highly respected and well-liked colleague with not only a national, but an international reputation” and said his passing was “a significant loss to the profession and to our firm”.  

John was a fellow of Girton College, Cambridge, and a professor and visiting professor at Durham University, Leeds University and Leeds Business School. He spent more than 25 years as a pro bono executive member of the Industrial Law Society and trustee, supporting the development of junior lawyers in the field of employment law. He was previously head of employment at Pinsent Masons.

Legal 500 described John as “one of the country’s highest profile employment lawyers” and Chambers & Partners Guide to the Legal Profession stated that John “inspires tremendous confidence”. 

John was a leading expert on Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE). Spencer West said he was often described as “the King of TUPE” and the “TUPE guru”. John recently contributed his expertise to ACAS as they updated their TUPE advice for employers having previously sat as an ACAS Council Member. 

A prolific writer, John was an editor of Harvey on Industrial Relations and Employment Law and as the author of both 'Business Transfers and Employee Rights’ – the go-to text for practitioners – and ‘Redundancy Law and Practice’ – which emerged as an equally invaluable resource.

He was recently invited to contribute to the latest edition of Smith and Wood’s student text ‘Employment Law’, fulfilling a dream of his. John also served on the editorial board of ELA Briefing, the journal of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Spencer West said: “John spent his life giving back to the communities around him. He was passionate about helping people who had no access to the law or to legal aid, supporting people from vulnerable and minority communities. 

“John will be greatly missed here at Spencer West where he has been a partner and respected colleague and valued friend for the last two years.” said Managing partner Simeon Spencer. 

“John was a keen cyclist, living and pedalling in the heart of Yorkshire with plenty of cycling challenges on his doorstep. He brought charm, erudition and an inimitable ‘Northern-ness’ to his practice that inspired those who worked with him and whom he advised and supported.” 

The Solicitors Journal offers its sincere condolences to John’s family, friends and colleagues.