Yorkshire County Cricket Club players, officials and supporters are mourning the death on Saturday, February 10, of the Club’s former President and Chairman, Sir Lawrence Byford, CBE, QPM, LLD, DL, at the age of 92.
Sir Lawrence joined the West Riding of Yorkshire Police Force in 1947 and rose through the ranks to become Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Police in 1983, serving in the post until his retirement in 1987.
Both Sir Lawrence and his wife, Muriel, were among the keenest of Yorkshire’s members and had been married for over 67 years.
Following the death of their distinguished President, Sir Leonard Hutton, in September, 1990, Yorkshire nominated Sir Lawrence to succeed him and he was voted in by an overwhelming majority at the Club’s annual general meeting the following February.
A couple of days later, a meeting of the general committee also appointed him as Chairman to succeed Brian Walsh who had made it known he did not wish to stand again.
Sir Lawrence then served as Chairman until 1998 and he stayed on as President for a year after that.
He made an immediate impression on the members, telling them that he had no intention of being a “hands off” President, and he was as good as his word, helping to improve the Club’s difficult financial situation and also ending Yorkshire’s policy of playing only those cricketers born within the county.
This change of direction rather surprisingly brought no revolt among the members who were beginning to realise that their team were playing with one hand tied behind their back as all other counties were benefiting from setting on top overseas players.
The opening up of the boundaries led to India’s young superstar, Sachin Tendulkar, becoming Yorkshire’s first overseas player soon after the start of the 1992 season. Australian fast bowler, Craig McDermott, had initially been given a three-year contract from 1992 but he pulled out of the deal because of injury and it was while Sir Lawrence was on Yorkshire’s pre-season tour of South Africa that he became actively involved in bringing Tendulkar to Headingley instead.
After joining the Police service, Sir Lawrence advanced to become Divisional Commander of the Huddersfield Division in 1968. Most of his service during that period was in the CID investigating serious crime, including homicides and complex frauds.
From 1960-1962 he was on the staff of the Detective Training School at Wakefield, training detectives from the United Kingdom and also from many parts of the world. From 1964-1966 he was on the directing staff of the Police Staff College at Bramshill, Hampshire.
In 1956, Sir Lawrence graduated at Leeds University with an upper second honours degree in law and two years later was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn. In 1987 he was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the University of Leeds.
Following his time at Bramshill, he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire in 1968, advancing to Deputy Chief Constable in 1970 and Chief Constable two years later. In 1977 he was appointed an Inspector of Constabulary by Her Majesty The Queen and initially covered police forces in the Southern Region and subsequently the North Eastern and Eastern Regions.
Sir Lawrence made numerous visits overseas in connection with his official duties and in 1979-1980 he led a Foreign and Commonwealth Office consultancy team to Turkey advising the Turkish Prime Minister and the Turkish Government on problems relating to terrorism and internal disorder.
The conviction of Peter Sutcliffe for the “Yorkshire Ripper” murders led to Sir Lawrence being appointed by the Home Secretary to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of the case and his recommended changes in investigative procedures were adopted throughout the Police Service.
Sir Lawrence was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1974 and he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979. He was created Knight Bachelor in the 1984 New Year’s Honours and appointed a Deputy Lieutenant in 1987.
In January, 1983, he was appointed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and as such was the principal professional adviser on police matters to the Home Secretary and other Ministers.
Sir Lawrence and Lady Muriel, who lived near Pannal, had three children, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. One of their two sons, Mark, was Deputy Director of the BBC and head of BBC Journalism from 2004-2011.