Former chief constable and Yorkshire County Cricket Club president Sir Lawrence Byford dies

Sir Lawrence Lawry Byford, who has died aged 92.
Sir Lawrence Lawry Byford, who has died aged 92.

A leading police officer who wrote a groundbreaking report into the failings of the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper has died.

Sir Lawrence ‘Lawry’ Byford passed away yesterday at his home in Pannal near Harrogate, aged 92.

His 1982 report on the Yorkshire Ripper case led to fundamental changes to the way investigations into serial killers would be carried out across the world.

It was just one of the significant achievements made by a miner's son from West Yorkshire who eventually rose to the top of the police service.

Sir Lawrence also became President and Chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club in his retirement, persuading the committee to abandon its rules barring overseas players.

It paved the way for the committee to sign a 19-year-old Indian cricketer, the now legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

Born in Normanton in 1925 to coal miner George and wife Monica, Sir Lawrence left school in his early teens without any qualifications and went on to become an apprentice
electrician working at a local pit.

After being drafted during World War II and serving with the Royal Signals, he joined the West Riding Constabulary in 1947 and worked as a detective before advancing through the ranks.

He was appointed Divisional Commander of Huddersfield in 1966 and then Chief Constable of Lincolnshire in 1973.

Throughout his early career, he also studied part-time for qualifications to off-set what he perceived as his lack of education in his childhood years.

He graduated from the University of Leeds in 1956 with a Law degree and two years later was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn.

In 1977, he was appointed an Inspector of Constabulary and in 1983 became Chief Inspector of Constabulary, the principal professional adviser on police matters to the Home Secretary and other ministers.

A knighthood followed in 1984, the year he was also appointed by the Home Secretary to head a Working Group into the IRA bombing at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.

Sir Lawrence's passion for cricket led to his involvement at Headingley and membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club, but he was also a life-long support of Leeds United and rugby league fan.

In 1987, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire and in 1992 a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leeds for his outstanding contribution to public service and criminal justice in Britain.

But he never forgot his roots, naming his home ‘Dalefield’ in recognition of the council estate where he grew up in Normanton.

And of all the accolades he received, being named a Diamond Jubilee Honorary Citizen by Normanton Town Council in 2012 was something he described as "the greatest honour of them all’.

A devoted family man, Sir Lawrence declared his maxim in life to be "faith, family and happiness".

He spent 67 years married to his local sweetheart, Muriel (née Massey).

The pair went on to have three children - Bill, Mark and Jill; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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