BOOK REVIEW | THE SECRET BARRISTER | ANON

IN A SENTENCE: A VIVID, PANORAMIC PICTURE OF THE JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT IS BOTH COMPELLING AND DEEPLY CONCERNING – AN IMPORTANT READ.

…so little does the average voter understand or care about the criminal courts that rampant butchery of the rule of law can be gotten away with unscrutinized.

The secret barrister, p218.

Stories of the law and how it’s broken is the tagline, to put the legal system on trial is the intention. Written by an anonymous barrister from within the legal system, the book is a self-aware, systematic exposé of the injustices that have crept into our increasingly underfunded, yet treasured, justice system – there’s something ironic in that statement. It’s a vivid, at times infuriating, panoramic picture of the legal system, from magistrates court to the court of appeal and if the image is in anyway accurate, it should provoke deep alarm in us, especially if we should ever find ourselves walking it’s corridors. As the anonymous author so eloquently states:

A working criminal justice system, properly resourced and staffed by dedicated professionals each performing their invaluable civic functions, for the prosecution and the defence, serves to protect the innocent, protect the public and protect the integrity, decency and humanity of our society. This should be a societal baseline. Not a luxury.

The Secret barrister, p16.

Readability: 8/10 Written in an engaging style but with quite a lot of technical terms (though they are explained to you), the chapters are also quite long but it’s worth it in the end.

Thought Provoking: 10/10 Full of stories of injustice throughout the justice system, it will move you and concern you, but it is careful not to become just a one-sided moan, there is nuance and balance to be found. The book doesn’t just get you to shout angrily about tax cuts and the dangers of an increasingly starved justice system – although it does do that; it also brings insight into the long term impact of the short-termism that comes from headline conscious political leadership; it reveals the difficulty of arriving at true justice; in the event of injustice, it reflects on the question of where the coin of injustice should fall, heads, on imprisoning the innocent or tails, releasing the guilty?; it also causes you to reflect on the very system itself, is the adversarial system the best way to obtain true justice or not? Most of all it’s a call to attention to a broken system that is harming and at times stealing, first of all money, but secondly years, from people’s lives.

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