Aberfan Disaster

But hardly had his appointment been announced when the Aberfan disaster took place. An inquiry was immediately demanded. Davies was chosen as chairman. A Welshman was to enquire into a Welsh disaster. His strong emotions for behind his apparent self-control he was an emotional man sometimes spilled over both during the lengthy hearing and in the wording of his report. His condemnation of the National Coal Board was complete and unqualified. Nine named officials of the board were blamed individually and the report was particularly scathing about the behavior of the board and its chairman, Lord Robens. Yet despite the damning report, nobody was prosecuted, dismissed or even demoted. His appointment to the House of Lords in 1974 came as a great relief, soon after he was again pressed to leave judicial work in order to chair the Police Inquiry which was especially concerned with the problems of police pay. The report is always associated with his name and is still often referred to in present controversies on similar topics. His recommendations for pay rises were accepted not without reluctance by the government and the Treasury. Through much of this period he was a member of the Criminal Law Revision Committee, many of whose proposed reforms were adopted. His family, his wife, his daughters and their children came first in his devotion. But Wales and everything Welsh were also a source of devotion. For 11 years he was pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales. In addition he was a Life Governor and Fellow of King’s College, London, and an honorary fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He was treasurer of Gray’s Inn in 1965. To all these institutions he always acknowledged his debt. Until his health failed he continued to live in Gray’s Inn but ultimately moved to a home near the care of one of his daughters and her husband.