Children of former Privacy Commissioner Sir Bruce Slane mourn his death, just 10 days after their mother died

Sir Bruce Slane spent much of his legal career fighting for justice and equality.
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Sir Bruce Slane spent much of his legal career fighting for justice and equality.

Sir Bruce Slane's children are mourning his death, just 10 days after their mother Lady Penelope Slane also died.

Sir Bruce, who was New Zealand's first Privacy Commissioner from 1992 to 2003, died around lunchtime on Saturday.

Lady Penelope's funeral is on Monday, so the family will wait for at least another week before farewelling Sir Bruce.

Their son Peter said it was a tragedy to lose both parents within such a short space of time, and his father had been hit hard by his mother's death.

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"They separated 15 years ago, but of course it still had an impact, he was very sad," he said.

"It's not a good space for us to be in. We were already going through with preparations for one funeral, and we're having to start over again."

Peter said Sir Bruce's health had been declining over the past year as he battled a blood disorder, but he remained active until the end.

"He was still reading the papers, and prepared to give comment on everything," he said.

"He used to hold regular lunches at the rest home, trying to solve the world's problems over a glass of wine. You had to be prepared to defend your position."

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The couple had two sons Peter and Chris, a renowned cartoonist, and daughter Judith.

Born in 1931, Sir Bruce was educated at Takapuna Grammar School and later graduated with a law degree from what was Auckland University College.

In 1957, he became partner in the firm that was to become Cairns Slane Fitzgerald and Phillips.

He had part-time roles with the news media including stints as a radio commentator and a newspaper columnist. His radio career was at a time when the Law Society prohibited lawyers from advertising themselves, so he was known to listeners under the pseudonym Bruce Christopher.

Sir Bruce was chairman of the Broadcasting Tribunal for the entirety of the organisation's life.

In 1989 he was presented with a special award at the radio industry awards, "in recognition of an outstanding contribution to radio in New Zealand".

He was also active in the business world, holding directorships on various company boards.

In 1985 he received a CBE, and in 2003 was appointed a distinguished companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2009, he was knighted for services to personal and human rights.

Current Privacy Commissioner John Edwards remembered Sir Bruce as an upstanding legal professional with a strong sense of social justice.

"Bruce was a humanist and a great lawyer but he was modest and self-effacing," he said.

"He would often joke about being the only layperson to ever be the president of the Law Society."

Edwards said he believed deeply in access to justice and equality.

"He always did the right thing - he had a strong sense of social justice and sticking up for the ordinary, everyday person," he added.

Slane likewise said his father worked tirelessly to make sure people were treated fairly.

"He wanted to leave the world in a better state than when he arrived," he said.

"He'll be very missed by his family."

 - Sunday Star Times

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