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Still on the trail of Eric Miller QC

Philip Selth OAM

I am back again looking for more help in my research into the life of Eric Miller QC (1903-1986). After two years slog I have finally traced Miller to two trials on Nauru in 1948 and 1949 arising out of the Chinese labourers 'riot' in June 1948 . Miller appeared (successfully) at the two murder trials when local policemen faced murder charges. The defence counsel was Tom Crawford QC.

At the first trial at the end of 1948 the presiding judge was Chief Judge Frederick Beaumont Phillips from PNG.  The second trial was presided over by Justice William Ballantyne Simpson from the ACT. The trials followed a report into the disturbances by Edward Taylor MBE.

I am trying to find information on the two trials (there seems to have been little press reporting - I can find only a brief reference in Pacific Islands Monthly to the first trial). I am also trying to find a biographical account (obituary?) for Taylor.

Are you able to point me in the direction of material on the trials and Edward Taylor?

Readers are asked if they can help Philip in his pursuit of the Eric Miller story. Philip is Executive Director of the New South Wales Bar Association. You can contact him at [email protected]


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Rod Miller


As you probably know Eric Miller QC was the defense barrister for John Murphy.

Page 84

It is interesting that they got Justice William Ballantyne Simpson, the sole judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, all the way from Canberra [or was this normal at this time?] to sit on the second case. Simpson had investigated Charles Cousens in his role as Director of the Commonwealth Security Service for the famous treason case in 1946.


Philip Selth

I have mined St Joseph's College's archives. They have nothing on Nauru; nor does the family. All the family has is a photo of Eric on Nauru - undated - and with no identification as to who others in the photo are.

It was this photo that lead me up the garden path for 2 years trying to find out what Eric was up to on Nauru.

Colin Huggins


If you contact the archivist of St. Joseph's College, Hunters Hill you will probably get your information. The Eric Miller awards are, so I have been informed, presented every year. No doubt, Eric, left personal notes with the college after he died. Eric's son, Roger, was in the class in front of mine. Roger may be still alive. The archivist would be able to fill you in with his whereabouts as I would be very surprised if Roger was not a life long Old Boy member. These lists of life members are no longer printed, so I can't help you there.
There is also the possibility that there could be some readers of this blog who are also SJC Old Boys. Best luck with your searches.

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