Family and friends say sex change man, formerly from Skipton, was a ‘trailblazer’ in human rights issues

David Burgess, who was also known as Sonia

David Burgess, who was also known as Sonia

First published in News by

Tributes have been paid to a “trailblazing” human rights lawyer who was killed when hit by a train.

David Burgess, who was undergoing a sex change and preferred to be called Sonia in his private life, was educated at Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton between 1959 and 1966.

The 63-year-old was struck by a train at King’s Cross underground station, London, during the evening rush hour on Monday, October 25.

Nina Kanagasingham, 34, of Cricklewood, north London, who is also undergoing a sex change from male to female, has appeared at the Old Bailey in London, charged with murder.

Kanagasingham is accused of pushing Mr Burgess under the train.

The court was told that Kanagasingham wished to be called Nina and that his sex change had not been completed.

Kanagasingham was remanded in custody for a plea and case management hearing on February 3 next year. No bail application was made.

Mr Burgess’s colleague, solicitor Syd Bolton, of Brougham Street, Skipton, said: “I’m a children’s rights lawyer working in London and over the last ten years have become closely professionally acquainted with him, having worked together for a charity giving legal advice.

“His death is a big personal blow to his friends and to the legal profession – he was one of the most outstanding lawyers of his generation.”

Mr Bolton said he was aware Mr Burgess was undergoing a sex change but in his profession he knew him as David.

He understood that Mr Burgess, who was a boarder in School House at Erymsted’s before going on to study at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, had carried out his early training as a solicitor in Skipton.

His family said in a statement: “Sonia was a loving and wonderful person and will be missed deeply. We would appreciate being given space to come to terms with our loss.”

Mr Burgess had specialised in immigration law since the 1970s and leaves two adult daughters and a son.

A spokesman for Luqmani Thompson and Partners in Wood Green, north London, the law firm where he worked, said: “We are immensely saddened by the death of David, 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.”

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