Distinguished criminal and civil judge Shaun Spencer QC today praised Bradford’s Crown Court as “one of the finest buildings on the circuit” at a tribute ceremony to mark his retirement after more than four decades in the legal profession.

Judge Spencer, 70, told a packed courtroom today he chose to spend his final two working days in the city because it was “a happy court centre” with cheerful and hard-working staff.

Judge Spencer graduated from Durham University and pursued an academic career until he was called to the bar at Lincolns Inn in 1968.

He joined the North Eastern Circuit as a barrister and was made Queen’s Counsel in 1988, becoming a judge in 2002.

He was, for some years, the designated civil judge in Bradford.

His interests include Tudor church music and singing madrigals.

Judge David Hatton QC, who led the tributes, said Judge Spencer was responsible for complex and important decisions in criminal and civil jurisdiction.

“He has done the state some service and they know it,” he said. “He leaves behind many friends and a great number of admirers.”

Judge Hatton said he had discovered that Shaun Spencer was in fourth place on the ‘21 Hottest Regional Male Barristers list’. Women who compiled it referred to “his smouldering Twitter picture”.

But Judge Hatton said it turned out to be a different Shaun Spencer, who worked in Manchester.

Peter Moulson QC said Judge Spencer had immense personality, combining great intellect with a keen sense of fun and a “unique court vocabulary”.

Mr Moulson recalled the day Judge Spencer went to a local shop and asked for a ham salad sandwich, only to be told: “We’ve run out, love.”

“Have you run out of the ham, the salad, the bread or all of the aforementioned?” Judge Spencer inquired.