Retired judge who grew up in Ely lands new role as a sheriff....but this one is purely ceremonial and strictly honorary

Neil McKittrick, the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Neil McKittrick, the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A former judge, who heard his last case eight years ago, has taken on a new role… a sheriff.

But Neil McKittrick won’t be responsible for any law and order issues since his duties as the new High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire are strictly honorary and ceremonial.

Mr McKittrick, who was born in Cambridge but grew up in Ely, has lived in Peterborough for more than 30 years. He heard his last case at Peterborough Crown Court in 2011.

As High Sheriff he has put local media on his list of priorities to champion.

“Both print and broadcast media play a vital role in our democracy in educating, informing and holding the powerful to account,” he said.

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“A lively media reflects a lively society and we need to remember how important their work can be.”

Mr McKittrick made his declaration at the Old Bridge Hotel on Wednesday (March 20), succeeding Dr Andy Harter, who held the post last year.

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Mr McKittrick said: “As a Cambridgeshire man, born and bred, I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve as sheriff for the next year.

“I hope to concentrate on encouraging and thanking those working in the voluntary sector and those supporting the old, the infirm and those suffering with cognitive difficulties. There are so many people doing excellent work in our communities and they deserve our gratitude. I would like to meet as many as possible.

“Of course, I do not forget young people and those who work with them and I hope that many donations made during my year will go to youth projects through the High Sheriff’s Fund administered by the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

He is married to Jean and they have two children. He is a solicitor by profession, qualifying in 1972. He served as a stipendiary magistrate in London and later as a circuit judge in Peterborough and Ipswich.

Whilst working in London he once saw former London Mayor Ken Livingstone come before him for not paying his community charge – better known as the poll tax.

He retired in 2011 and was appointed a deputy lord-lieutenant for Cambridgeshire in the same year.

The office of High Sheriff is the oldest continuous secular office under the crown. A record of high sheriffs in Cambridgeshire goes back to 1155 and historians believe there may well have been sheriffs locally before that date. The office is unpaid and non-political.

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