Leading tax academic Professor John Tiley, 72, has died following a fall from the top of the Cambridge Law Faculty on Sunday evening. His body was found by police at the on Sidgwick Site at 6:45pm, following reports that a man had fallen from the top of the building. Cambridgeshire police have confirmed that his death is not being treated as suspicious.
Professor Tiley was a Fellow of Queens' College and had been Britain's premier tax academic for over twenty years. At the University he held the position of Emeritus Professor of the Law of Taxation, having formerly been chairman of the law faculty. Tiley, who was also the Director of the Centre for Tax Law, lectured students on the Law of Taxation as part of the Faculty Tripos.
Having begun his academic career at Oxford University in 1963, he moved to Birmingham before settling on Cambridge in 1964. His work, which included five volumes of Studies in the History of Tax Law, earned him a CBE and the title of an honorary QC.
A spokesman for the University has described Sunday night's events as occurring "unexpectedly and tragically". The spokesman also extended "deepest sympathies" to Tiley's wife and three children.
Tiley's death has sparked a shocked and greatly saddened reaction on Twitter. Tax adviser Pete Miller said, "Desperately sad news about John Tiley. A lovely man and a good friend, he will be sadly missed"..
This is not the first time in recent years that University property has been the scene of such a tragic incident. In 2008 the body of Robert Clancy was found on the University New Museums Site. The circumstances were initially treated as suspicious, but it was later determined that Clancy had taken his own life.
Christina Sweeney-Baird, vice president of the Cambridge University Law Society, said that Tiley will be missed by all of his students, by whom he was "hugely admired".
Matthew Weiat, a former Caius student who was taught family law by Tiley from 1983-84, shared his memories of the professor with TCS: "He was in many ways a typical Cambridge don - wry, ironic, knowledgeable, unafraid to lure students into traps of their own making before gleefully pointing out their errors.For that reason alone I have to admit to having been rather frightened of him at first!He had sparkly eyes, verging on the glinting! It was impossible to tell from his expression whether one had just said something worth saying or something utterly banal – in my case it was usually the latter...And after my second year had no further interaction with John until relatively recently, when I saw him at a conference.I went up to him, and told him that he had taught me. His expression on hearing this, some three decades later, was as gleeful as it had been during those supervisions all those years ago.
When I told him that I was now a teacher and researcher of law myself he seemed genuinely delighted; and when I added "not in family law though", he said something like "Thank goodness for that - I seem to remember having made up quite a lot of what I taught students on that course".He was lying, of course, and the making of the observation was both indicative of his modesty and the pleasure he took in laughter!I know he will be very much missed as much for those qualities as for his extraordinary scholarship and contributions to the legal academy."
Tiley served as a part-time judge from 1983 to 1997. However, Mr Tiley's most recent high profile work, had been as member of the UK Treasury's controversial General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) taxation study which formed part of the 2013 Finance Bill due to receive royal assent this month. The project was set up to bring an end to abusive tax avoidance structures - however the proposals have been subject to widespread financial services industry criticism, which also spilled into the mainstream media - including a report in The Daily Telegraph.
Indeed, Labour MP Austin Mitchell was reported to have spoken out over the issue last month and put forward his own suggestions for membership, once the bill has passed, of new GAAR advisory panel - Mitchell has urged for the panel "not to appoint anyone from the tax avoidance industry" – reports of John Tiley's presentation to the Chartered Institute of Taxation's conference last year have suggested to some industry commentators that Tileys' views may have been at odds with Mitchel and his supporters.