#BBCSilk Series 3 Episode 5 & 6
I was away and without TV or internet access for over three weeks,so I have just caught up with the last two episodes. As they are both about the same story line I thought it was appropriate to write about them together. Although the story line made great drama, any attempt to be realistic was abandoned in these episodes.
Martha takes on the case of Seam McBride, a former boyfriend from her home town, who is charged with murder. At the beginning of episode 5 she tells him no barrister would agree to represent such a close friend, and then proceeds to ignore her own advice. The reason for not representing somebody you know well was illustrated when the names of people booking rooms at the hotel where the murder took place were those of other pupils in the same class as Martha and McBride. It was a piece of evidence that pointed to his guilt. She knew that, yet in order to keep defending him she had to keep quiet about it. The effect of that would probably be to mislead the court and that is unethical and puts her in breach of the professions’ code of conduct. Of course she would have known that information before the case started as the hotel’s register and bookings list would have been part of the prosecution case.
She also is so sure of his innocence. ‘I can tell by looking in their eyes if they are guilty or not,’ she says. She is so committed to the idea that the police make the evidence fit the case for guilt that she loses all objectivity. The discovery of the gun and of McBride’s jacket add to the weight of evidence against him and Martha really doesn’t know how to deal with this apart from accusing the police of framing her client. She really should have asked for the jury to be discharged so that the jacket and the gun could be forensically examined. She might then have found out that the gun was fired by a left handed man rather than the right handed McBride.
Recalling bent solicitor Micky Joy to testify he says that lawyers just play games in court and the first casualty is truth. Coming from a dishonest lawyer that was a bit of a liberty. I am sure though it’s what many people believe, but jury trial is not meant to find the truth but to establish guilt or innocence, in the belief that the system we use of testing the evidence by cross examination ensures that the guilty are convicted and the innocent go free. Most lawyers believe it works and that is the reason they so passionately defend our adversarial trials.
For the rest of the two episodes they reflected some of the life of a set of Chambers. For example the interest in boxing was quite common as young men were taught to box, often in clubs supported by Oxbridge Universities, in order to divert them from criminal activity. The allegation of sexual harassment against Billy showed the strong loyalty in the clerks’ room to a flawed but tremendously humane personality like Billy.
So is this the last of Martha Costello and Shoe Lane Chambers. Perhaps not, but I think most barristers even if they find the series too flawed to really enjoy it would applaud Maxine Peake’s support of their cause in fighting for justice4all against the current Lord Chancellor.