law pages of Bournemouth and Poole College.
John Hart, who has died aged 75, was as a party in the House of Lords case Pepper v Hart he was also the first man to win Mastermind.
The first three Mastermind champions were women, Hart, a classics master at Malvern College, romped home to take the trophy in 1975.
In 1992 Hart and nine other teachers at Malvern challenged the Inland Revenue over the amount of tax they were being required to pay under the 1976 Finance Act. From 1983 to 1986 they had taken advantage of a “concessionary fee” scheme, which allowed their children to be educated at rates one-fifth of those paid by other pupils.
The Inland Revenue argued that the total cost of their education (which they estimated at £10,000 per pupil per year) should be treated as a taxable benefit; but the teachers argued that the cost to the school was minimal as, since it was not full to capacity, the children were occupying places that would not otherwise have been filled.
A literal interpretation of the Act seemed to support the Inland Revenue’s case, and both the High Court of Justice and Court of Appeal had found in favour of the taxman. But when the case was considered by a panel of five judges in the House of Lords, they took into account the debates on the legislation as it made its way through Parliament, which showed that ministers’ intention had been that such benefits should be taxed on the marginal cost to the employer, as the teachers had argued. The Lords found in favour of Hart by a 4-1 majority.
Pepper v Hart, as the case has come to be known, is regarded as a landmark in that it overturned a principle of at least 300 years’ standing that judges should not refer to “extra-statutory” sources when interpreting the law.
John Hart, born September 30 1936, died November 15 2011