Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies, by The Secret Barrister
Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies
by The Secret Barrister
Publisher: Picador -3 Sept. 2020
Hard Cover: £13 – £20
As it states on the inside of the book jacket, ‘Thankfully, the Secret Barrister is back to reveal stupidity, malice and incompetence behind many of the biggest legal stories of recent years. In Fake Law, the Secret Barrister debunks the lies and builds a defence against the abuse of our law, our rights and our democracy that is as entertaining as it is vital’.
As the title states, this book is about fake news relating to our justice system that mask the ‘cries of those truly betrayed or failed by the law’. This book gives us ‘snapshots of how the stories we are told about justice, corrupt and warp our understanding’ of our justice system.
The Secret Barrister (SB) explores in this book the reasons why our politicians and the media are keen to churn out falsehoods in relation to our legal system and points out that these exaggerated and sometimes false stories are not just innocent ways of gaining popularity or increased paper sales, but have a more manipulative sinister side to them that is lulling parliament and the general public into accepting an erosion of our legal rights and the foundations of our democratic society.
The initial chapters in this book centre on the individual (‘Yourself & Your Home’, ‘Family’, ‘Health’ and ‘Work’, before taking stories from a wider legal context relating to ‘Access to Justice’, ‘Human Rights’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Equality and Due Process’, and ‘Democracy’. The SB concludes with a series of changes that are needed in order for our legal system to give everyone the opportunity to receive justice.
Of interest to readers of this review will be Chapter 6, ‘Our Access to Justice’, as this looks at the fake news stories and facts that were used to soften up Parliament and the general public in accepting huge cuts to the legal aid system that has denied children and adults, some of whom are the most vulnerable in our society, e.g. victims of domestic abuse, from fully accessing our justice system and therefore denying them protection under the law. The Secret Barrister argues that the reduction on legal aid and its resulting denial of justice has resulted in:
‘The Criminal appeal reports [being] stuffed with miscarriages of justice where innocent men and women lost years of their lives because the state wrongly believed they were guilty’.
That statement is then followed up with a stark warning, ‘YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE.’ [emphasis added]
In the final chapter, ‘Epilogue: Our Future’, the SB outlines three main changes that would improve the accuracy of information related to law cases and the judiciary, and these are:
1. Higher standards of self-regulation of the press that would prevent misreporting of basic facts and the distortion of its context. This situation has developed at the same time as the demise of the trained court reporter.
2. Public legal education, particularly in schools, that would help people to critically analyse any information relating to our justice system.
3. The independent role of the Lord Chancellor reinstated as a ‘watchdog’ over all matters relating to reporting of legal cases and the legal system. This would require the position to be filled by someone with experience of the legal profession, such as a QC.
Overall, Fake Law is an excellent read and I am sure that, like the previous Secret Barrister’s book, it is destined to become a No.1 best seller.