I’ve been following the Secret Barrister for ages – his blog won Independent Blogger of the Year in 2016 and 2017, which I suppose counts for something – his* often funny, but enlightening look at a life of law always gets me thinking. And now he’s got a book out.
The Secret Barrister shines a light on our criminal justice system, a shadow of its former self, gutted in acts of political bad faith by politicians looking for a quick (if dubious) win in the eyes of Daily Mail readers.
This includes a peep into the magistrates court, where amateurs (genuine amateurs – no professional legal training here) preside over 90% of criminal cases; the legal aid system, where we watch innocent people beat unproven allegations and foot the bill themselves; or a look under the bonnet of the CPS, where not sending on evidence to the defence has become fairly routine because they’re so stretched.
Its all a bit scary – even if it is easy to read, and funny in bits.
Whilst the Secret Barrister is terrifying when you consider the criminal justice system’s workings up close, it’s electrifying when he discusses the reasons behind its failings: turning the light on politicians who take a penny off the tax on a beer to cut legal aid from the most disadvantaged in society, or the tabloid newspapers who miss out vital facts from their reporting of a case, just to make it sound more sensational.
In the end, there’s no shirking it: we get what we deserve. The Secret Barrister poses a serious question: what is our nation if we sacrifice some of the essential values of democracy in exchange for a cheaper beer?
“Defendants, victims and, ultimately, society, are being failed daily by an entrenched disregard for fundamental principles of fairness.”
So what do you think? Have you read it? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?
Let me know in the comments!
*I’ve really no idea that he’s a he, but his twitter picture is this rabbit dressed as a lawyer, and it looks male to me. But who cares really?
I’ve no book recommendations that come close to this. Instead, why not go for a writer of fiction as absurd as the Secret Barrister’s facts? Kurt Vonnegut’s your man here: