On Racist Murders

The murder of Danny O’Shea in east London last week has highlighted one particularly divisive issue – when can you classify a murder as racially aggravated? There have been questions – particularly from what you might call ‘right wing organisations’ such as the BNP – as to what exactly distinguishes the murder of a black […]

Contempt of Court: Open Justice?

The idea behind the 1981 Contempt of Court Act was pretty honourable. Everybody deserves a fair trial and to have their guilt decided by a jury rather than be convicted by the ‘Press’. Since then it has come under increasing pressure from the right to freedom of expression, first in the printed media and more […]

The Jury: Perverting the Course of Justice

Forget the legal inaccuracies, the irrelevant sub-plots and the intrusive commercial breaks. What really killed off ITV’s The Jury was a lack of confidence in courtroom drama. It looked promising enough. Written by the Oscar-nominated author of Frost/Nixon and The Queen, Peter Morgan, the drama was screened over five consecutive days and starred Julie Walters […]

Sam Hallam: A Miscarriage of Justice?

There’s a famous quote from the film Shawshank Redemption, when the main character Andy Dufresne tells another prison inmate: ‘Everybody in here’s innocent. Didn’t you know that?’ So when a young man convicted of murder steps forward and strongly protests his innocence, it’s often hard to keep an open mind. It’s still harder to accept […]

Off the Map: The death of Charles Bunyasi

The recent death of Charles Bunyasi began as a murder investigation but will now ‘drop off the map’. Why? Because it no longer counts as a homicide. Mr Bunyasi (right) was run over by his own van after it was stolen by a thief. The exact circumstances are unclear but detectives have charged the suspect […]

Stenography and Charles Dickens

This week the BBC reported – in its own strange way – that court proceedings will be digitally recorded instead of taken down by dedicated stenographers. This could be said to bring an end to a tradition going back to the 17th Century. It’s also quite a sad goodbye to a profession that has included […]