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The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  5,777 ratings  ·  571 reviews
I’m a barrister, a job which requires the skills of a social worker, relationship counsellor, arm-twister, hostage negotiator, named driver, bus fare-provider, accountant, suicide watchman, coffee-supplier, surrogate parent and, on one memorable occasion, whatever the official term is for someone tasked with breaking the news to a prisoner that his girlfriend has been ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 22nd 2018 by Pan Macmillan UK
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Rich Lambe It isn't...?

Within law, specifically criminal law, if a case is tried before a Jury then the prosecution (accusing side) must convince a jury 'beyond…more
It isn't...?

Within law, specifically criminal law, if a case is tried before a Jury then the prosecution (accusing side) must convince a jury 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the accused did it.
As it is impossible in a lot of cases for a crime to be proven beyond any doubt, this has become the accepted standard.(less)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Simon Bradshaw
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I often recommend books. I sometimes say that a book is a 'must-read'. But there are few books that make me want to go up to everyone I know and tell them that I actually, really mean that they *must* read it, in the sense that it is genuinely important that they take in what the author says.

This is such a book.

If you have any interest in the English criminal justice system - and if you live in England and Wales, you should - then this book will be eye-opening, shocking and thought-provoking. A
...more
Emma
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
As a call for awareness, this is loud enough to be heard, but it also reminds us that outside the extraordinary cases, so much of the nitty gritty of law can be unimaginably dull.

That we have a crisis of funding in the law should surprise nobody, but perhaps the law suffers for attention in comparison to the NHS because we're more likely to have personal experiences of one than the other. Apart from cases sexy enough for media attention, the day to day running of the law might as well be in the
...more
Petra-X
Apr 20, 2018 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Petra-X by: purita
Saw it on Purita's profile, looked interesting.
James
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just prior to the 1983 General Election, then Labour Leader Neil Kinnock, delivered what must rank as one of the most poignant speeches ever made in British politics. In what might be called his “warning speech”, he warned of what would happen should Margaret Thatcher win. To paraphrase, he warned people not to get old, not to be young, not to get sick, not to do myriad other things – for the state wouldn’t be there to help them, nay, would actively do them harm.

Fast forward thirty-five years to
...more
Karen Ross
Fails to live up to the hype. Too much history. Insufficiently anecdotal. The sexy title (and implicit cashing in on the Secret Footballer franchise) promised a different kind of book and the 'populist' marketing leads to disappointment.

Written like a barrister writes . . . and i don't mean that in a good way
G L
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feel like this book wanted to be the This is Going to Hurt for the law but wasn’t quite engaging or funny enough- was interesting but often over complicated and the explanations were sometimes convoluted.
Nigel
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Briefly - Slightly mixed feelings on this one. Looking at the subtitle there really aren't many "stories of the law" and it majors on how the law is broken. Dry in places, fascinating in others.

In full
This book opens with some outline information about the author, the book and the criminal justice system. Written by an anonymous barrister it considers of the subject of justice over time and across countries. It also looks at the general strengths and weaknesses of the English justice system and
...more
Sophie Castledine-Dack
I had started to get worried that this book would never end, and it was only through stubborn principle that I never dnf books that I completed it at all.

I had very high hopes for it - I thought it would be the legal equivalent of 'This is going to hurt' which I found insightful, engaging and interesting. Unfortunately, TSB was none of these things to me, and I recognise that, in making this statement, I exemplify the author's hypothesis that citizen apathy towards the failings of the justice
...more
Sid Nuncius
This is excellent. It's very readable and often witty in style, but its message is stark and worrying: we have a serious problem in the criminal justice system which is getting worse.

Written by an (understandably) anonymous barrister, The Secret Barrister is an account from the inside of the realities of the English and Welsh legal system. It is interesting and very clear about how we came to have the current system, its undoubted strengths, its true aims and the terrible mess which so often
...more
Faye
Read: May 2019

In terms of the content of this book, I should really give it five stars. The Secret Barrister exposes the many flaws and weaknesses in our justice system from an insider's invaluable perspective.
The trouble is that our system is so clearly broken that the book becomes hard to read. I finished it feeling much more depressed and vulnerable than when I first picked it up. The story of the junior doctor wrongly jailed for an attack that overwhelming evidence proved he didn't actually
...more
Bookread2day
I want to read this book again!
Stephen Bentley
This is the most over-hyped book ever. I looked forward to reading it but was initially put off by the original high price of the Kindle version. The price dropped to just over 4. I wish I hadn't bothered.

The author, whoever he or she may be, makes some excellent points about the state of the criminal justice system (CJS) in England and Wales. But, my goodness, what a tortuous way to make his case. Clearly, he has not fully absorbed one of the greatest lessons of advocacy: make your point and
...more
K.J. Charles
This is terrifying and everyone in Britain needs to read it. An appalling, nightmarish indictment as to the state of the law now, the terrible flaws in the justice system, and the damage done by government cuts. The author makes it very clear this is not somebody else's problem, with case studies that made me feel slightly sick. A hugely important book about a problem that's been inexplicably ignored for so long that we now have an injustice of gigantic scale on our hands. Again: if you're ...more
Helen Cooley
Dec 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Like reading a text book. And not on a subject I was interested in. Not at all like 'This Is Going To Hurt' despite comparisons, this is not funny. I'm clearly not the target audience and don't want to spend another 300ish pages getting outraged and anxious about the poor state of the British legal system since I can do exactly nothing to improve it. So I have let myself off and moved on to hopefully a more enjoyable read.
Ali Joyce
May 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a real struggle to finish. I had hoped that it would be a fun read with some interesting cases and anecdotes. No. I found the writing style pompous in places, and some passages were rather lazy in setting out the law (I know that was needed but in a number of places the text was lifted entirely from legislation or text books). I echo comments made by another reader that the only defendant who was positively portrayed was a fictional, middle-class junior doctor - that was a real shame. ...more
Laura
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: three-star
A detailed look at British law and how the system is fundamentally flawed, despite its good intentions to provide justice for the innocent. I felt this book was more textbook style than anything else; there aren’t many stories about weird and wonderful cases that the author has been a part of. Almost every page features numbers and statistics, and while that can be useful, should not make up the bulk of the writing.

Law can be a dry subject, as the author acknowledges here. I wouldn’t describe
...more
Katie
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did enjoy this book however i did find myself scan reading parts of it due to certain sections being a bit too informative or complex for someone who doesn’t study or have a huge interest in law. It was interesting and it did have the odd comical part but it was much more formal and serious than I had expected. I love medical memoirs and thought it would be similar but law related however this wasn’t the case. Maybe it’s because I work in the NHS however I do believe you can read and ...more
Matthew Hickey
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This is an important topic for public education and discussion.

I accept (by reason of my profession) I’m perhaps not the target reader, so my opinion should be weighed in that way, but I found the substance of the book occasionally discursive and unnecessarily prolonged. However, those same aspects may well be what makes this book appealing to a reader who is entirely unfamiliar with the book’s subjects.
Hannah
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure before I start this review: I’m a lawyer myself and this is in many ways a book for lawyers.

The subject matter is on its face fairly niche - an anonymous barrister exposing the current rickety state of our criminal justice system - and for all the author’s attempts to use plain English, the book is inevitably written in a fairly lawyerly style with a lot of legal terminology thrown in.

However, I defy anyone, lawyer or not, to read this and not come away with their eyes firmly
...more
Rob
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was torn on what rating to give this book. The subject matter - the horror of what's happening to the UK's legal system - is unquestionably of the highest importance and is set out well.

So surely 5 stars? Well, yes, but unfortunately the writing is way too dense and could have done with a good edit.

There's an enormous irony in the author bemoaning judges who can't get over their words in comprehensible English, when you examine the overly-wordy prose of this book.

Granted, the legal system and
...more
Holly Law
What an absolutely captivating, and frightening, book this is. The author has produced an accessibly informative explanation of the state of our criminal justice system. His writing style is frank and often funny, making what could be viewed as a fairly dry subject anything but.

You, like I, might subconsciously think the criminal justice system is not really anything to concern 'people like us'. You won't feel that way after you've read this book.
Zoe (readabilitea)
I listened to this on audiobook, and although the narrator's performance is very good, I couldn't help but find it very difficult to keep focused on. It's interesting, there's no doubt about that, but it's just incredibly dense with a lot of statistics, and compared to other nonfiction books I've read recently, felt less accessible as a result. I found I had to listen to whole chapters again. It highlights a lot of issues with the English justice system, and comes back to a point that many of ...more
Cliff Moyce
Aug 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Boring... boring... boring. Good subject, good idea, deadly dull writing style. Should never have been written. I guess there will be a spate of these sorts of books since the huge (and much deserved) success of ‘This is going to hurt’ by Adam Kay. Adam Kay can write (and talk), this guy can’t. The author is wise to keep his identity a secret. Not because he will upset people with his anecdotes but because he won’t.
Natalie Liddle
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstandingly good book.

I will review this properly when I find the words. Thought provoking indeed.
Ruth
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written but not what I was looking for in a holiday read. It felt like wading through a lengthy legal dissertation at points.
Henri
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I see how this is quite often compared to 'This is Going to Hurt' by Adam Kay. It also has the 'Tory govt of 2010 ffed shit up and 'situation is much worse than you ever thought' vibe to it but on this similarities end. Whilst it pretends to be funny it is really not done in a comedic sense but rather in a more ironic/sarcastic passages explaining the worst of the legal system. Additionally, it's more of a serious read with some long-winded explanations of the law that some people who are not ...more
Lindsay Seddon
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for any and all living in the UK.
Michael Cunningham
Not a light read. Nothing like This is going to Hurt or Henry Marshs' books. It's a terrifying account of the British criminal legal system. You definitely won't want anything to do with it after reading this !!
Extremely interesting.
Steve Cornforth
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is certainly not unheard of for a book written by a lawyer to make headlines. John Grisham comes to mind and Rumpole of the Bailey gave me many a happy hour as a student. But is a rare thing for a book about the practice of law to rise up to Number 3 in The Times charts – especially one written by an anonymous barrister. Stories of the Law – and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister has managed to do just that.

For the purpose of this review I will call the author SB whom, I will also assume
...more
Eleanor
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to go ahead and call it now:The Secret Barristeris probably the best non-fiction book I'll read all year. (It's actually calledStories of the Law and How It's Broken, but that seems more like a subtitle to me, and the author's name is the big sell on this one, since the Secret Barrister is a massive blog that's twice won Independent Blogger of the Year at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards. So I'm referring to it asThe Secret Barristerand that's that.)

Readers of the blog will
...more
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The author, writing under the pseudonym of The Secret Barrister, is a junior barrister practising criminal law before the courts of England and Wales. The Secret Barrister is also a blogger who in 2016 and 2017 was named Independent Blogger of the Year at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards. As of the book's publication date in March 2018 the author had a substantial following on Twitter of ...more
“We weren’t sure whether to believe the defendant or the complainant. We find the defendant guilty.” 2 likes
“When we ask what sort of society we want, can we tolerate imposing the ultimate coercive sanction – permanent deprivation of liberty – upon people who we agree may reasonably be entirely blameless?” 1 likes
More quotes…