A new book by an anonymous Barrister describes the legal system as broken and reveals daily errors and government cuts that have left the courts no longer fit for purpose.
The book, The Secret Barrister: Stories of the law and how it’s broken, is designed to bring to the attention of the general public, facts which would not surprise those who are familiar with the court system. The author describes the impact of government cuts and the resulting delays and errors in the legal system.
The book says: “Walk into any court in the land, speak to any lawyer, ask any judge, and you will be treated to uniform complaints of court deadlines being repeatedly missed, cases arriving under-prepared, evidence being lost, disclosures not being made, victims made to feel marginalised, and millions of pounds of public money wasted.
“I wanted to bring the things I saw that upset me to a wider audience. They will not come as a shock to lawyers in the system. But whenever I [spoke]to a non lawyer about them they would look at me with horror and I realised there was a disconnect between the criminal justice system and the people it is meant to serve.”
The book describes violent abusers allowed to walk free because of missing evidence, vulnerable witnesses unable to continue with the trial after a series of adjournments and innocent people wrongly held on remand for months. All of these failing, the author attributes to years of public service cuts.
The author states:
“the system is at breaking point and now running exclusively on the goodwill of the barristers and solicitors that work unpaid, after hours, through lunch, through nights, through weekends, to plug the problems in the system. Perhaps we need to say if we, the court staff and the CPS staff weren’t going the extra mile, if judges weren’t above and beyond, then everything will collapse.”
The author has not revealed their identity but uses the accounts of real people and cases to describe the innocent being found guilty and the guilty walking free. Some have speculated that the work may be the efforts of a collection of Barristers but ‘Secret Barrister’ has said that just close family members have been informed of the identity stating, ‘I’m a junior criminal barrister, I’m extremely ordinary. I hope the focus of the book will be on the issues raised rather than me.’