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Dedicated and honest civil servant helped shape justice system

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James Anstey Daniell, who has died, aged 67, played a unique role in the creation of today's criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

The historic Belfast Agreement of April 1998 included a commitment to "bring forward proposals for future criminal justice arrangements", although the approach was not prescribed.

Thus, as Director of Criminal Justice in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), Jim, as he was known, had considerable scope to fashion the Criminal Justice Review.

While it is fashionable in some quarters nowadays to disparage civil servants, Jim was the epitome of all that is best about the role. Ferociously hard-working, always focused on finding practical solutions to problems, he was never afraid of 'telling truth unto power', thanks to his outstanding integrity.

Jim joined the Northern Ireland Office about a year after Direct Rule had been introduced in 1972. While much of his civil service career was in Northern Ireland, first during the Troubles and then after the Belfast Agreement, he also made a notable contribution at the Home Office, and latterly in various roles allied to government.

Towards the end of 2000, Jim moved to the Home Office, as director of crime reduction and policing policy. In three years, he had a number of achievements there, including the establishment of the Security Industry Authority, and contributing to policing reform, as well as bringing his Northern Ireland expertise to bear in helping coordinate the Government's response to the disorder of the summer of 2001.

From 2007, for three years he chaired the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission, having previously served in senior roles at both the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Jim had also served in private secretary roles in the Northern Ireland Office, the second time in the mid-1980s as the Principal Private Secretary, first to Douglas Hurd and then to Tom King.

He was in Los Angeles on an official visit with the former when a call came through to the hotel that his wife, Sally, had given birth to their twins, Robyn and Liam.

While personally self-effacing, Jim's commitment, energy and problem-solving skills ensured he inspired loyalty in all those who worked for him.

Jim bore his last illness courageously, supported at home by family and friends. He passed away on July 16. A thanksgiving service will be held at St John's Church in Hartley Wintney at 1.30pm on Monday, August 21.

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