I have decided to do some posts about this forthcoming election because I think it is a crucial one for the country as to our direction of travel for the next generation. I should declare my own interests — my politics are centre-left. I feel uncomfortable with any political party at the moment, none of which represent my views at all. I believe we should remain in the EU because the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. No one has given me a satisfactory explanation as to why we should leave. Throwing words like sovereignty, undemocratic or take back control isn’t helpful unless we all agree on what those words mean.
Someone said to me that lawyers think differently and I believe he meant we look for evidence and for the definition of the words people use. So I’m going to look at what we are being told by those asking for our votes for the privilege of representing us in Parliament and suggesting questions you might like to ask yourselves about their election promises. Promises that as we all know too well can be broken the minute they are in power.
So the first question is what kind of society do we want. I’m not going to provide an answer. I have my own thoughts but I am going to suggest that you watch the film, ‘Sorry we missed you.’ It’s the story of a young couple with two children struggling when the husband is made redundant and can only get a job as a courier working on a zero-hours contract. His wife works as a carer again on a zero-hours contract. Their finances were hit by the collapse of Northern Rock – the fault of bankers. They struggle to make ends meet, working all hours and from that their family life breaks down. It may be exaggerated as most stories are, but I’m sure there is a real kernel of truth in the story.
The review in The Guardian gave it five stars and the journalist Peter Bradshaw said this at the end of his piece. ‘When I first saw this film I reflected that the European Union is the modern-day nursery of employment rights. Outside it is where working people will find more cynicism, more cruelty, more exploitation, more economic isolation, and more poverty.’
It’s your choice.
I began this blog by writing about the cases in which I had played a role either as an articled clerk, then a solicitor and for over twenty-five years as a barrister. Although mostly I worked in the criminal courts -‘defending the indefensible’ I did some cases in the family court and a few cases in the High Court.
I have recently published a number of these anecdotes in a memoir called Trials, Errors, and Misdemeanors. It is available as an e-book and a paperback on Amazon. From tomorrow 7th June to 12th June the e-book is available free.
Reluctant Consent will be available for 99p from 11th to 14th March as an ebook on Kindle.
Check out the five star reviews it has already.
Reluctant Consent has another five star review. See below. And a Danish Cassie Hardman Fan Club! How cool can that be.
Reluctant Consent is a superb follow up to Crucial Evidence and I can’t wait for the trilogy. The characters are real and you are kept guessing right to the very end. As well as this, the books give a fascinating insight (educational, in my case) to the workings of the British legal system. I have done Margaret Barnes no favours by passing my copy of both books, highly recommended, onto friends, thus denying her royalties (sorry!). I have now bought two further copies to give to friends abroad. Wait for the new Danish branch of the Cassie Hardman Fan Club.
Just a quick thought as we move into 2019. In the last pages of her book, the Secret Barrister bemoans the lack of interest in the Criminal Justice System in comparison to the NHS or education.
Her book has been a best seller but in The Guardian, on Saturday the list of 100 bestsellers for the year was published and guess what ‘The Secret Barrister’ was nowhere to be seen but ‘This is Going to Hurt; secret diaries of a Junior Doctor’ by Adam Kay was number 2. Says it all really!
I would urge anyone who values freedom to read The Secret Barrister and for a more fictionalised account of how the Criminal Justice System works try either of my novel ‘Crucial Evidence’ or ‘Reluctant Consent.’ on Amazon.
Reluctant Consent my second novel is now available on Kindle. Here is a brief outline.
Barrister Cassie Hardman is being stalked by an unknown male. She doesn’t know why but there is some connection to the defendant Paul Sadler, who faced trial for rape.
Cassie struggles with the unwanted invasion into her life as she works on a murder trial – her most important case to date. Each communication forces her to relive her role in the Sadler trial.
How does a woman like Cassie cope with defending a man accused of rape?
Can she overcome the distress caused by her stalker and defend the accused in her current to the best of her ability?
Can the stalker be identified before she comes to any harm?
I went to see the film last night. I’d read the book when it was first published and did say in a review that I thought Ian McEwan had done a brilliant job of portraying the life of a lawyer – in this case a judge. The film is perhaps even better. Emma Thompson is superb as the judge Fiona Maye. Every advocate knows that moment as one walks into the courtroom – one’s personal life, ones feeling left behind. Emma Thompson gets it just right.
The scenes in court reflect the real world. One could say that the robes aren’t quite right but the behaviour is. A High Court Judge in a tetchy mood is not to be trifled with. It also demonstrates the emotional cost for lawyers dealing with these very difficult cases, not just in the family courts but in the criminal courts as well.
The setting of the film in and around the Royal Courts of Justice and Grays Inn are as I remember them. Elegant buildings, a haven from the rough and tumble of every day London, set around manicured lawns.