JUDGE’S MEMOIRS MAKE THE CASE FOR A MORE EGALITARIAN LEGAL SYSTEM
In his thought-provoking (and entertaining) memoirs, a Senior Circuit Judge looks back on his court room experiences and his off-duty adventures.
Judge Harris offers his forthright assessments of the strengths and failings of our current legal system – and gives us many amusing anecdotes along the way.
TRIAL & ERROR
A Judge’s experiences, in the law and out of it
by Charles Harris
“I had decided to read Law. Law was a subject which was fresh, wide and useful, did not involve algebra, and might lead to a career … Perhaps, I thought, I could become a barrister. There was a touch of potential glamour and romance in advocacy – and I thought it should be possible to earn a reasonable living …”
ISBN: 978-1-86151-940-5 Paperback 317 pages Numerous Photos Extensively indexed RRP: £14.00 2020 www.mereobooks.com
Available through bookshops & internet booksellers
When Judge Charles Harris QC retired in 2017, he was the most experienced and longest-serving member of England’s cadre of civil judges. After 26 years as a Barrister, he then spent 24 years as a Circuit Judge, working in Oxford, the Midlands and London, and has dealt with every kind of dispute, from dangerous animals and negligent doctors to the sale of the Ritz Hotel.
During his career the law has become steadily more complex, more expensive and harder to implement. Indeed, nowadays it is often impossible for ordinary people to understand our legal system – and sometimes it can be also prove difficult for judges to navigate and interpret too.
In his book (which is written in clear language with as little legal jargon as possible) Judge Harris discusses many of the changes he has seen and the effects those changes have had on society. He also asks some probing and controversial questions about what he regards as the needless complexity and expense of our current legal system.
Besides revealing the workings and anomalies of the judicial world, this book is also a thoroughly entertaining memoir about his adventurous life away from the law courts. The author describes his post-war childhood and education, his experience of standing for Parliament, hot air ballooning in India, encounters in Africa, skiing in the Alps, learning to fly, deerstalking in Scotland and the ups-and-downs of family life.
This book can be enjoyed by those who have no legal training as well as by students of law, those who work in the legal professions and anyone interested in politics and the law.
About the author: Judge Charles Harris QC read law at Birmingham University, followed by the Inns of Court School of Law. He joined the Inner Temple, and was called to the Bar (became a barrister). His Chambers were in Middle Temple Lane, London. His practice developed on the Midland Circuit and in London and Winchester. Charles Harris took Silk (became a QC) in 1989, and became a Circuit Judge in 1993. For many years he sat at Oxford, Birmingham, Warwick and Northampton. In 1998 he was appointed a Designated Civil Judge in charge of an extensive area including Peterborough, Northampton and Oxford. The area was later expanded still further to Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Charles Harris was appointed a Senior Circuit Judge in 2014 (a rank between Circuit Judge and High Court Judge).
Radical Solutions for a System at Breaking Point
CHRIS DAW QC
Almost everything we do and think about crime and punishment is wrong.
In this radical new book, Chris Daw QC explains why and sets out his manifesto for
what we can do to revolutionise the criminal justice system.
fractured justice system from within. He has looked into the eyes of murderers, acted
for some of the UK’s most notorious criminals, and listened to the tangled tales
woven by fraudsters, money launderers and drug barons. Yet his work takes place at
the heart of a system at breaking point – one which is failing perpetrators, victims
and society – and now he is convinced that something must change.
For most of us the criminal law only matters when we fall victim to crime or are called
for jury service. But what if everything we have been told about crime and
punishment is wrong? What if the whole criminal justice system is a catastrophic
waste of money, churning out lifelong criminals, dragging children into court from as
young as ten, and fighting a war on drugs that can never be won?
Drawing on his own fascinating case histories and global reporting, including the 2019
London Bridge attacks, Alabama’s prison system and one of Britain’s most notorious
mass shootings, Daw presents a radical new set of solutions for crime and
punishment. By turns shocking, moving and pragmatic, Justice on Trial offers
unparalleled inside access to a system in crisis and a roadmap to a future beyond the
binary of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
trials of recent years, including countless cases of murder, serious fraud, money
laundering, armed robbery and international drug trafficking. He is an active
commentator on criminal justice issues on broadcast and social media, with a strong
Twitter following as @crimlawuk
23rd July 2020
Under the Wig
A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence
By William Clegg QC
Canbury Press / 4 October 2018 / £16.99 / hardback
How can you speak up for someone accused of a savage murder? How do you sway a jury? Or get a judge to drop a case?
Meet London’s top murder case lawyer as he meets clients in prisons, confronts witnesses in packed courts and frees innocent people jailed for decades.
In a vivid memoir, William Clegg QC revisits his most notorious and intriguing trials, from the acquittal of Colin Stagg to the murder of Jill Dando, and from Britain’s first Nazi war criminal to the man given life because of an earprint.
All the while he lays bare the secrets of his profession, from the rivalry among barristers to the nervous moments before a verdict — and how our right to a fair trial is now in great peril. Switch off the TV dramas and plunge into the criminal law in action.
Well-known cases featured:
- Colin Stagg’s trial for The Wimbledon Common Murder
- The Chillenden Murders (Dr Lin and Megan Russell)
- The Earprint Murder
- The Murder of Jill Dando
- Rebekah Brooks’s Phone Hacking Trial
- Representing the deranged serial killer Robert Napper (who murdered Rachel Nickel and Samantha Bisset)
- Fighting for Private Lee Clegg in Northern Ireland
- The trial of the man accused of Joanna Yeates’s murder
- Defending Britain’s first ‘Nazi war criminal’
William Clegg, QC, is one of the most celebrated advocates at the English bar. A barrister for 47 years, he has been the go-to lawyer for complex murder and fraud cases for decades and has fought over 100 murder cases. He is head of chambers at 2 Bedford Row, one of the four leading criminal sets in London.
Clegg also argues:
- Innocent people will be jailed for murder because of Legal Aid cuts
- Wearing of wigs in court should be stopped
- There are many cases of police incompetence – as seen in the Rachel Nickel case
NHS Law and Practice
1. Law as History
2. The History of English Law
3. Human Rights and the Whirligig of Time
4. A Glorious Revolution?
5. Judges and Ministers
6. Obscenity and the Margin of Appreciation
7. Does the Separation of Powers Still Work?Law and Rights
8. The Role of the Judge
9. Anonymity and the Right to Lie
10. Dealing with Strasbourg
11. Speaking in Tongues
12. The Public Interest
13. Judicial Misconduct
14. Recusal: When Should a Judge Not Be a Judge?
15. The Right to Die
16. The Brexit Case
17. The Supreme Court
19. Detention without Trial
21. Colonels in Horsehair
22. The British Constitution
23. A New Constitution?
24. Freedom of Expression
25. The Abuse of Power
26. A Compensation Culture?People
27. Rudy Narayan: 1938–1998
29. Lord Diplock: 1907–1985
30. Lord Scarman: 1911–2004
31. Lord Bingham: 1933–2010
32. Lord Mansfi eld: 1705–1793
33. Sir Thomas More: 1478–1535
34. Lord Denning: 1899–1999
35. Lord Sumption and Public Law
36. Bob Dylan
37. Ewan MacColl: 1915–1989Occasional Pieces
38. A Commonplace Book
39. Under Milk Wood Lost and Found
40. Getting It Wrong
Afterword: A Different Cat
Punctuation Without Tears: Punctuate Confidently — in Minutes!
ISBN: 978 0 99263 329 5 (print)
ISBN: 978 0 99263 328 8 (e-book)
Size: 178 x 111 mm
UK £7.99 (print) / £1.19 (e-book)
Punctuate with confidence the easy way! A quick, funny, illustrated guide to all the punctuation you’ll ever need to know. Whether you want to master punctuation for school, university, creative writing, journalism, business or anything else, this zany little book abandons complex rules and offers simple guidance for British and US English.
In an easy and engaging style suitable for all ages, this short guide goes through all the common punctuation marks, explaining how to use each one, and showing how to avoid some of the commonest errors.
Using funny, memorable examples, it allows you quickly to master all the common punctuation marks: full stops, commas, colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, question marks, dashes, hyphens, apostrophes, quotation marks, brackets, and ellipses. It also has sections on how to handle two punctuation marks next to each other, numbers, -ize and -ise, and a wealth of other style advice. Many of the chapters are brought to life with whacky illustrations.
‘I wish every one of my students would read this!’
Professor of Physics, Oxford University
‘Made me laugh and cheer’
Award-winning TV producer
‘A magical manual!’
Editor, Leading UK newspaper
‘What a wonderful book!’
Director, Author School
Dominic Selwood is a barrister, journalist and bestselling author.
Justice for All and How to Achieve It
Citizens, lawyers and the law in the age of human rights~
ISBN: 978 1 78551 123 3
Size: 234 x 156 mm
UK £20 / US $25
- A thought-provoking exploration of the world’s enduring legal and moral dilemmas
- Based on a prestigious lecture series delivered by an internationally-renowned barrister
What is a crime against humanity and when should it be investigated? What does ‘human rights’ mean? Is law the new religion and are its high priests, the lawyers, really all bad? What is the role of the law in the regulation of sexual behaviour? Are there limits to what we can reasonably expect from international war crimes tribunals? These and many other crucial questions are explored with wit, panache and consummate even-handedness by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, in the series of lectures he delivered as Gresham Professor of Law from 2012 to 2016. Drawing on events from every continent and every period in history – from ancient Babylon to Britain on the brink of Brexit – and referencing icons from Cicero and Socrates, Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre, Joan Baez and Muhammad Ali – Sir Geoffrey applies his own wealth of experience to moral problems that are as pressing in today’s anxious world as they ever have been.
ARLIDGE, EADY & SMITH ON CONTEMPT
General Editors: Patricia Londono, David Eady, Professor A T H Smith and Lord Eassie
ISBN: 978 0 41406 380 8
SWEET & MAXWELL/THOMSON REUTERS
The Common Law Library
THE COMMON LAW LIBRARY REMAINS AS REFRESHING AS EVER
WITH THE NEW FIFTH EDITION ON CONTEMPT LAWS
An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”
One of the most enduring aspects of the top level legal works is Sweet and Maxwell’s Common Law Library. It remains of the highest authoritative value as legal publications for the judiciary, lawyers and academics. If you want to identify where the law can be found on any major area of substantive importance look no further than this Library of books. And that remains the case with the new fifth edition of the Law of Contempt which first appeared in 1982.
The new edition appears some five years after its predecessor at a time of substantial technological change, particularly with regard to the role of the juror. As the editors write, “there has been a resurgence of interest in those who have in various ways by their actions undermined the integrity of trial by jury”. Therefore, the editors have included some most useful commentary on recent case law authorities both here and in Europe.
Of course, the temptations of the internet will remain as real concerns for the judiciary plus the ever present issues of human rights laws which are very well covered in the new edition which has incorporated all the supplements since the fourth edition.
We found the information on reform from the Law Commission enlightening, specifically their Reports on contempt No 335 covering the “dead letter” subject of “scandalising” (still with us apparently!). Their report dealing with contempt on the face of the court has been delayed, but will presumably be resurrected for a future edition of this most impressive work. Fortunately we have useful commentary on the significant changes which affect both civil and criminal contempt, and coverage of Part 81 of the CPR.
The editors state that “open justice has been a continuing theme”, and this is especially so with family matters and the protection of journalists’ sources. The text has been revised to include a number of new practice directions and other guidance which we found most useful. They cover matters like access, reporting restrictions and the publication of judgments which will be of particular interest to many readers.
For the first time, more consideration is given to the access and availability of visual recordings at a time when IT is progressing at a very fast pace. The Preface to the book makes some important observations about visual access although it is, of course, confined to the higher courts at present. It is very clear that this area will require another visit for the next edition when the fourth industrial revolution really hits the legal world.
There is a final word of warning. Most proceedings we are involved in are slow moving and technical “so that there is little to hold the attention of the casual onlooker.” The advice (or approach) is that “the presence of cameras does not intrude upon or inhibit the court process”. Therefore, rightly so, protection must be afforded to those who may not be able to cope so well with such distractions. In essence, after the comments from experiences in the New Zealand courts, it will be a slow process of evolution… but probably inevitable.
A team of ten additional contributors make this new edition as complete as it can be and they, together with the editors, have made this work the definitive authority on contempt at a time of change; we cannot do our work as practitioners without these Common Law Library books so thank you all very much for what you have achieved here.
Date of publication 23rd May 2017.
SHACKLETON ON THE LAW AND PRACTICE OF MEETINGS
General Editors: Madeline Cordes and John Pugh-Smith
ISBN: 978 0 41406 372 3
SWEET & MAXWELL/THOMSON REUTERS
AN ABSOLUTE ESSENTIAL FOR HOW TO CONDUCT MEETINGS
An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”
It is always well-worthwhile reading the new fourteenth edition of “Shackleton” which we have reviewed before – it never ceases to disappoint with its clarity and friendliness when facing an awkward meeting and its members. The editors and their five additional contributors hope that it remains “the authoritative source of information on the law and practice of meetings” and it is just that.
The new edition gives us a complete statement of the law with detailed practical guidance which we think will be of great benefit to all people involved at every level of meetings, from the beginner to the old hand. The editors have included two new chapters covering what they call the increasing practice of holding “Virtual Meetings”, and “Charity Meetings”. They also review new decision procedures in insolvency proceedings under the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016.
The purpose of this work remains as an essential reference guide. It gives the sort of information which one finds necessary when preparing, conducting and closing a meeting. The range of users of this manual cover the every-day practice of legal professionals, company secretaries, administrators and clerks, directors, local authorities and really any organisation that holds formal meetings.
We were particularly impressed with the additional information for local authorities where meetings are the ever-present activity required to get things done in our liberal democracy. Their procedures and practices do tend to overlap so we were delighted to see commentary on new case law authorities. The writing team have covered issues including bias, the delegated powers of officials (often quite substantial today), and access to information. The procedural changes which have arisen from implementation of the Localism Act 2011 are also well covered.
It is not a long book at a modest 400 odd pages with 31 chapters and a detailed index which covers paragraph numbering rather than page numbering using Sweet and Maxwell’s Legal Taxonomy. The footnotes are particularly useful and have been carefully limited to the detail which the editors (rightly) think meets the balance between a detailed legal text and what is useful for lay people.
We remain extremely grateful to Sweet and Maxwell and Thomson Reuters for continuing to publish these titles for us because it makes life just that much easier at a time when there are so many unrepresented parties involved in legal matters and we are all expected to have some form of legal expertise and knowledge (even if some of us don’t!).
Date of publication 1st July 2017.
The Lawyers Who Made America
From Jamestown to the White House
Anthony Arlidge QC
No other nation’s creation, both politically and socially, owes such a debt to lawyers as the United States of America. This book traces the story of that creation through the human lives of those who played important parts in it: amongst others, of English lawyers who established the form of the original colonies; of the Founding Fathers, who declared independence and created a Constitution; of Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Justices of the Supreme Court and finally Barack Obama. Even Richard Nixon features, if only as a reminder that even the President is subject to the law. The author combines his wide legal experience and engaging writing style to produce a book that will enthral lawyers and laymen alike, giving perhaps a timely reminder of the importance of the rule of law to American democracy.
The Data Protection Officer
Profession, Rules, and Role
By Paul Lambert
About the Book
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation created the position of corporate Data Protection Officer (DPO), who is empowered to ensure the organization is compliant with all aspects of the new data protection regime. Organizations must now appoint and designate a DPO. The specific definitions and building blocks of the data protection regime are enhanced by the new General Data Protection Regulation and therefore the DPO will be very active in passing the message and requirements of the new data protection regime throughout the organization. This book explains the roles and responsibilities of the DPO, as well as highlights the potential cost of getting data protection wrong.
Order in Court: Vol 2 of UK Barrister’s ‘Toby Potts’ Series Delivers Hilarious Verdict on Young Lawyer’s Life
Written by renowned Barrister, author and public speaker – David Osborne, ‘Order in Court: Volume 2 (Toby Potts)’ recounts the trials and tribulations of young Toby, as he graduates from Bar School and prepares for a glittering career of “legal fame”, or so he hopes. However, as Osborne and his comrades will admit, the rise to the top of the legal ladder requires grit, tenacity and a thick skin far beyond anything law school teaches. It makes for a side-splitting and intelligent read; sharply-witted and 100% accurate to the life of real-world lawyers. It’s no wonder one critic recently wrote, “It is good to read a book which is an excellent blend of accurate narrative and sound humour; David Osborne’s background as a successful barrister does much to add credence to the storyline which makes it all the more relaxingly readable”.
Toby Potts, fresh from Bar School, and clutching his graduation diploma, is a young, aspiring barrister, full of hopes and dreams and intent on becoming the leading criminal advocate of his time. He can hardly wait to get on his feet and impress the jury with his incisive cross-examination, his mastery of all things legal, and his spellbinding final speeches. Sadly, reality kicks in, and Toby finds the path to fame and fortune far from smooth and uneventful.
Chambers politics, strange clients, solicitors who come and go on a whim, and even stranger and eccentric judges, all have their part to play in Toby’s climb up the greasy pole. Moments of courtroom drama, and many more moments of high fiasco, mark Toby’s initiation into the heady world of the Criminal Bar. So much to learn, so little time. Will Toby succeed where so many have failed? He has the determination, he has the self-belief, but does he have what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the profession? Only time will tell. One thing is certain – never a dull moment! Why be ordinary, Toby was once told, if you have it in you to be extraordinary?
“The legal world is an arena unlike anything else on the planet, and those of us who stick it out and “make it” are left with experiences that live in the memory for years to come,” explains Osborne. “I wanted to write something unique, creative and funny, as well as remaining faithful to the cut and thrust of the courtroom drama. Believe me, this reads like fiction – but it’s so close to real life!”
Continuing, “Initial reader feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and, with huge demand for the series to continue, I’m currently working on volume three. With a working title of ‘My Learned Friend’, Toby’s adventures in wig and gown are set to continue!”
As mentioned, reviews have been glowing. For example, one reviewer comments, “Buried amongst the humour and wit, however, are some keen insights into the legal world and class system.”
Ben Farrar adds, “Beautifully succinct writing and hysterical legal anecdotes.”
‘Order in Court: Volume 2 (Toby Potts)’ is available now: http://amzn.to/2gCYOCA.
For more information on the book and the author’s other endeavours, visit his official website: http://david-osborne.com.
I was somewhere else yesterday. Today I am here, and tomorrow I will be somewhere else again. By this action of yours my time is wasted perhaps more than yours, as I have to go a great deal further than you.
Joseph didn’t want to go to war. He wasn’t a conscientious objector, but neither was he garlanded with battle honours. He resembles none of our burnished archetypes and he isn’t the sort of man books are normally written about. He fought only because a military tribunal forced him to. That tribunal sat in Westminster, many miles away and it was led by the Marquess of Salisbury. The Westminster decision so enraged Josephs friends and neighbours that his own, local tribunal went on strike.
Drawing on legal records and vibrant newspaper reports of the time, Joseph, 1917 raises an interesting question if you p ut a man in harms way then realise you made a mistake, shouldn’t you at least try to make amends? The book also offers some thoughts on tribunals and the law they applied and about the different ways they let Joseph down. But it is also interested in the events and characters of the time and the strange story of the place Joseph called home.
Joseph, 1917 is a book that is different in its subject and its scope from almost every other one published about the war and would serve as the perfect complement to those books. It combines several genres in which there is currently great interest not only is it a military history, it is a life story and it contains a good deal of social history and even genealogy and legal and political history. It is likely to appeal not only to devotees of Richard Holmes, but also to people who enjoy Who Do You Think You Are? and The Secret History of My Family and to readers of History Today.
DAVID HEWITT is a lawyer and writer and, like some of the people in Joseph, 1917, he sits on judicial tribunals. He was born and brought up in the place in which the book is set and he is interested in the law and what it does to people. He is also interested in lost stories, especially those that shed fresh light on great events, and he enjoys bringing those stories back into the light.
PUBLISHED 28th February 2017
Distributor: ´Orca Book Services. Tel: 01235 465521. Email: email@example.com
BIC subject category : BGH Biography: historical, political & military
Paperback 216×138 mm 288pp Portrait
please contact Alice Graham
Tel: 0116 279 2299 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Troubador Publishing ltd, 9 Priory Business Park, Kibworth, Leicester LE8 0RX
This book explains the correct logical approach to analysis of forensic scientific evidence. The focus is on general methods of analysis applicable to all forms of evidence. It starts by explaining the general principles and then applies them to issues in DNA and other important forms of scientific evidence as examples. Like the first edition, the book analyses real legal cases and judgments rather than hypothetical examples and shows how the problems perceived in those cases would have been solved by a correct logical approach. The book is written to be understood both by forensic scientists preparing their evidence and by lawyers and judges who have to deal with it. The analysis is tied back both to basic scientific principles and to the principles of the law of evidence. This book will also be essential reading for law students taking evidence or forensic science papers and science students studying the application of their scientific specialisation to forensic questions.
Animal Q.C. aka Gary Bell
By Hal Ian Brinton Published 19 March, 2016
Appointment to Queen’s Counsel is without a shadow of doubt the pinnacle hallmark of legal competency. Affectionately known as taking silk, many yearn for the title.. few seldom get it. Bar those granted the postnominals virtue of honoris causa, (Leeds did exceptionally well this year by the way), its recipients must be practising lawyers of spectacular eminence. As the author of this truly unique book demonstrates, 20 years of graft sounds about right, give or take a year here or there. But why ‘Animal’, you might wonder?
Well In the case of Gary Bell, born and raised in the city where the ‘No 1’ team sports Garibaldi red, the same city misrepresented as the gun crime capital of England and Wales, this recognition alone does suffice in conveying the significance of his achievements. Some by circumstance have to work harder than others. As any reader will learn, and undoubtedly enjoy doing so for the reasonable price of £8.99, this story goes beyond the validation of legal intellect, far beyond! It is perhaps more accurate to describe Gary’s journey as a rollercoaster steeplechase with intermittent foreign adventures, and brushes with the law – all hurling towards the highest echelons of British society. Finally a book to stand on par with Herman Hesse’s ‘Steppenwolf’. Did I mention that the author was a former Homeless Drifter, Fork Lift Driver and self confessed Pork Pie Maker (amongst other things)?
Son of a proud miner, ill – tempered and ruthlessly old fashioned, the childhood expressed in ‘Animal Q.C.’ can easily bring a tear to the eye, toys were certainly few but that didn’t stop Gary. A man on a mission. One prevailing theme throughout is that it’s not what you haven’t got that counts but how you make good use of what you do have. As the Q.C. has said on record:
‘It’s a book about aspiration really, rather than anything else.’
In the opening chapter we are given an exposition of the post war state of the St Ann’s district in Nottingham. The area was condemned a ‘slum’ in the 1960s and 70s. Gary rightly explains that the financial hardships endured by his family were hardly novel. Many people lived hand to mouth and cockroach infestations were a reluctantly accepted norm. Yet despite these challenges, people as people do, survived, no doubt with the help of one another. It seems that happiness and purpose in St Anne’s at the time was forged through a seemingly unbreakable community spirit, a rarer thing nowadays perhaps. Still to this day though, you can hear the distinctive cries of the rag and bone men in certain districts of Nottingham city. No more horse and cart however; they have gone for good. It’s cars and microphones now.
The circumstance of Gary’s mother, Maureen, an avid reader and to whom the book is dedicated is equally capable of rousing feelings of pathos in the reader. She rarely left the house, and by convention, gave way from the opportunities that life may have afforded, to the frankly patriarchal ‘back breaking’ servitude required of many a mother in those days.
One description of how Gary’s father Terrance would flick cigarette ash on the floor for Maureen to clean up is however, particularly telling. There is a saying amongst some that ‘ash stops the carpet from growing’. Irrespective of what one thinks of that, Terrance’s conduct quite simply amounts to contempt and control, undoubtedly perpetuating 19th century attitudes towards women that are redolent of female servitude and Gary is understandably quick to note it. One could comment that new ideas have come in since, but in reality we all know that the pecking order is still evident, it just depends on how one decides to implement it. Perhaps that is why some choose to get away; explore and embark upon their own journey.
On education the book’s observations are equally relevant. Schools then, much like today can be a dire experience for some, even without the corporal punishment. Life can be ruthless!
A natural intelligence however saw the future Q.C. pass his 11+ examination with flying colours. The reward? A rightly deserved scholarship at Nottingham Boys’ Private High School, the same institution that the likes of D.H. Lawrence had attended.
Gary was not to realise such an opportunity, however. A culmination of ‘political dogma’ and his father’s ‘lack of interest in education’ soon saw him being found a place at Toot Hill Comprehensive, something the author honourably declines to decry. In fact, he writes with clarity and integrity when he says that he would have undoubtedly ‘trodden a more conventional path’ had he attended the High School – perhaps to the extent that he would not have written ‘Animal Q.C.’, thank heavens then, that he didn’t go! Laughs aside though, something worthy of mention and one that the author humbly omits is that such scholarships are far from doled out ‘willy nilly’ in order to satisfy some ‘underprivileged’ quota. Only those with the highest grades at County level are afforded such chances. Ask The Rt. Hon Kenneth Clarke Q.C. MP. – .he’ll tell you!
Beyond school, Gary like so many who had been reliably informed that they were only good for menial labour was jettisoned circumstantially into the world of tedious and repetitive work. It is as the author states, ‘a terrible scandal’ and one which perhaps prevails to this day and dictates which type of employment supposedly befits working class children. He does right in exposing it and in fact has recently written a ‘Guardian’ piece commenting on Social Mobility and University Tuition Fees. Clearly the book is full of hard seen and insightful description regarding the status quo of British society. His observations however, on the working classes as cannon fodder for imperial conquest is particularly thought provoking. It’s hard not to agree!
Whilst in the world of intellectually dissatisfying work, Gary like many a young working class man is drawn into the seductive and dangerous world of football violence. Coach trips for the away games, supplemented by lager, and ‘Mr Kipling Bakewell’ tarts is certainly one way to feel purposeful. It touches a nerve though at the roots of British sensibilities and cannot be overlooked. It is a reality! Illegality aside, the sound morality of Gary and some of the other men is evident when sharing equal disgust for the behaviour of the so called ‘ferret’ who attacks a helpless child. There is a strong omniscient sense that this life is not for Gary, and as a reader you can’t help but think ‘mate you’re too smart to be getting caught up in this’, but again it is circumstance permitting. Time to travel.
There is a quintessentially British sense of fair play within the narrative; the German escapade concerning a British Garrison and a ‘Day-Glo’ tent is humorous, albeit frightening for the participants. You literally could not make this stuff up and if you did, few would believe you. A great shame and no surprise to many!
At times ‘Animal Q.C.’ reads like a John King novel – the difference being that one is fiction and one very evidently fact. It is here that we learn just how remarkable Gary’s story really is and how very easily things could have descended into an irreversible inferno. Aptly quoting Rutger Hauer’s android in BLADE RUNNER ‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe’ Gary gets it right when asserting ‘its been a preposterous life’. It has and that is all the more reason to tell it. Incidentally, those familiar with the quote may know that Hauer actually improvised part of the monologue. He literally wrote his own script, much like Gary has by taking back control of his life by drafting his own brief. Inspirational!
Extraordinary foreign escapades, and a tragic incident in which Gary’s life could ‘have gone very differently’ sees the author fulfilling what to the reader seems like destiny. I would have pigeon –holed him for philosophy though, but to our surprise and of course to much joy of those he has represented, Gary decided upon a law degree. Champion debater, mingling with high society and finding love in the right place; one can’t help but think that his is a work of fiction, but actually, it’s not. Like many of the greats, Gary has achieved something that all humans have the ability to do, but few realise that they can, and that is quite simply being the best that they can be. The first step is saying ‘No, I refuse to have my life dictated by circumstance.’ This is surely an example of the great British pride coming to the fore. Success has no limits – it evolves like a creature borne to survive – much like our judicial system no doubt!
What lies ahead for Gary in the future? some might ask. Well, as a mere reader, I could not possibly comment. It is beyond predictive theory much like his life. Denning had to go through war before becoming a member of the judiciary; arguably Gary already has – and what a better person for it!
So how one might wonder does the man from St Anne’s, ‘known to the law’, with insatiable appetite for football achieve that which the Bar Councils Kalisher report termed ‘the badge of the eminent and successful barrister’ ? The answer, skill, a strong moral compass, friends and a dogged determination.
Any why ‘Animal’ you might again enquire ? Well for that you will have to read it for your bloomin’ self!
An Honest Man by Simon Michael
Criminal lawyer Simon Michael draws inspiration from some of his own cases to create this gripping legal drama series.
About The Book
Charles Holborne is back and his life is in ruins. Although acquitted of the murder of his wife (in The Brief – the first in the series of Charles Holborne adventures), the damage done to his reputation has left his barrister’s practice in tatters. Charles may have escaped the hangman by proving he was framed, but now he’s alone, in debt and in need of a break. Then, out of the blue, the biggest brief of his career unexpectedly lands in his lap; it looks like he’s been thrown a lifeline. But far from keeping him afloat, the case drags him ever deeper into the shadowy underworld of the sleazy side of London in the 1960s. An Honest Man explores what happens when Charles come into contact with major-league villains including the Kray brothers, with whom, in truth, he feels more at ease than he does his professional colleagues…
Charles finds himself drawn into a world of violence, gang warfare, corruption and vice, where it is no longer only his reputation at stake, but his very life.
Simon Michael appeared at CRIMEFEST, the International Crime Fiction Convention in May, 2016, Bristol, UK (www.crimefest.com).
About The Author
Simon Michael was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in 1978. Since then he has spent many years prosecuting and defending criminal cases and in doing so has dealt with a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy.
Simon is an avid story teller; in truth he has been all his life. In 1989 he published his first novel and after a further 25 years of legal experience he now has plenty of plot ideas.The Brief was the first in a series of Charles Holborne adventures, and An Honest Man builds on the success and popularity garnered by book one. Inspired by Old Bailey cases and court documents, the story explores how easy it can be to find yourself turning to crime when playing a game with corrupt police officers, warring gangs and top-level career criminals. Four children, two divorces and lots of therapy meant Simon Michael spent the next 20 years in full-time practice as a lawyer, but in 2016 he retired from the Bar to devote himself to full-time writing. Simon is a founder member of the Ampthill Literary Festival and lives in Bedfordshire.
LAUNCH EVENTS ARE SCHEDULED IN LONDON AND BIRMINGHAM – JULY 2016 – FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT LITERALLY PR.