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Publisher's Summary

The Sunday Times best seller.

'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 diagnosed with gonorrhoea.'

Welcome to the world of the Secret Barrister. These are the stories of life inside the courtroom. They are sometimes funny, often moving and ultimately life-changing. 

How can you defend a child abuser you suspect to be guilty? What do you say to someone sentenced to 10 years whom you believe to be innocent? What is the law, and why do we need it? 

And why do they wear those stupid wigs? 

From the criminals to the lawyers, the victims, witnesses and officers of the law, here is the best and worst of humanity, all struggling within a broken system which would never be off the front pages if the public knew what it was really like. 

Both a searing firsthand account of the human cost of the criminal justice system and a guide to how we got into this mess, The Secret Barrister wants to show you what it’s really like and why it really matters. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our desktop site.

©2018 The Secret Barrister (P)2018 Macmillan Digital Audio

Critic Reviews

 "Eye-opening, damning and hilarious." (Tim Shipman, author of All Out War and Fall Out

What listeners say about The Secret Barrister

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  • Mr
  • 04-10-19

Shocking but vital

10% inspiring, 40% depressing, 40% fascinating and 10% funny.
I was gifted reading this audiobook by a friend who works, sorry, worked for the CPS. She recently apologetically left her mountainous backlog in the hands of her dwindling colleagues. She gave me no hint as to the tenor of this book but attested to the emotions and truths conveyed within these pages, so well read by the narrator.
The author can reasonably be lauded as a heralding angel of a coming man-made disaster, this time not of the environment but instead, the systems that our ancestors incrementally crafted to protect us. These systems have, through self interest and neglect, been allowed to erode from the inside out. By the time we wider public notice the human cost, the cost to remedy may sadly be too high and a new dark ages of society may be our harvest.
I'd argue this is almost required reading by any inhabitant of the British isles if only to prepare them for that hopefully unlikely day when they find themselves lost in the fickle maelstrom of the legal system.

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Narrator is a bit too earnest, but important msg

I found the narrator to be annoying. Like a preachy mate who is right and rubs it in. This doesn't detract from the excellence of the work tho - the UK legal system is a car crash.

1 person found this helpful

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very interesting, worth a listen

a very interesting book. not at all what I expected.

slightly scary too!!

a bit dry in places but some very fascinating insight.

the narrator is a bit preachy.

worth a listen

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  • Kirstine
  • 06-06-18

A superb dissection of the English legal system

I found this a riveting account of the strengths and weaknesses of the English legal system in criminal cases. The author writes with verve and passion that kept me gripped throughout. He charts the history of how English law has evolved over the centuries and how it differs from that in other countries before dissecting the failures in how it operates in the 21st century.

While many things are to be lauded about English Law in practice it is abundantly clear from this book that excessive financial cuts are undermining justice. It is a telling statistic, that the cost of giving the over 75s free TV licences costs more than the funds allocated to run the Crown Prosecution Service. The latter creaking under the weight of too much work and too few people to do it so that justice is compromised. Cuts to the police and legal aid budgets mean that trials are not adequately prepared. Cynical politicians, who respond to populist opinion fuelled by the gutter press calculate that they can cut the justice budget to the bone without losing votes. The popular view of fat-cat lawyers obviously does not apply to those toiling in criminal cases.

The author gives chilling examples of people wrongly accused of a crime who don’t qualify for legal aid (a facility greatly curtailed by recent governments) who even when found innocent are left massively out of pocket with no redress. Even worse are those wrongly convicted, often spending many years in prison, who eventually are shown to be innocent but don’t qualify for any compensation as penny-pinching governments made the criteria to be eligible for compensation so stringent that few receive any redress.

I greatly enjoyed this book but was left depressed by the spectre of even more miscarriages of justice occurring owing to sub-standard trial preparation.

The narrator is excellent and injects the text with the justifiable outrage felt by the author.

83 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-29-18

everyone one should read

i cannot express strongly enough how important this book is. buy it. read it. share it and absorb what it says and means. you never know when its implications will affect you or those you love

35 people found this helpful

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  • Halfgirlhalfwotsit
  • 03-26-18

A funny, interesting narrative about life as a barrister

It wasn’t what I thought I was buying but I was unexpectedly hooked from the beginning.
I thought it would be a confessional type thing but it was a highly informative, amusing and sometimes sad look at the British judicial system and how lacking it can be. What I have been left pondering is the truism of ‘better a guilty man go free than an innocent man be wrongly convicted’
I really want to do jury service now!

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  • Rishi
  • 07-16-18

Incredible in every aspect

The authorship is perfect. The narration is perfect with a delivery that cannot be mastered. This is a must read book for ANY UK citizen. This is a must share book for everyone.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 06-07-18

Things I didn't know, I didn't know.

Certainly a book I'd recommend to anyone interested in the law or Politics. an eye opener to the possibilities of what can happen to you, and what it will cost you and why the law is the way it is. I hope there is an intention for more of the same. Very real, very alarming .

13 people found this helpful

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  • PJ0185
  • 04-30-18

"The criminal justice system is on its knees"

What made the experience of listening to The Secret Barrister the most enjoyable?

Not enjoyable but shocking what a perilous state our criminal justice system is in. The author has articulated the chronic situation in a way the laymen can understand. Compulsive reading (listening).

What other book might you compare The Secret Barrister to, and why?

"The end of the World" A guide to Armeggedon.

What about Jack Hawkins’s performance did you like?

Well read and appropriate. Assuming the SB is a young man.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Cry, almost. If, like me, you had a misty-eyed sense of British justice you are in for a shock. Basically don't be a witness and be very fearful of being taken to a criminal (or worse, magistrates) court for a crime you didn't commit.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Simon Caldwell
  • 05-03-18

Excellent in sight into a world we pray to avoid

Such a fascinating listen. The author clearly loves a system that needs some urgent help and they get it across in a humorous style. The system sounds frankly terrifying and I hope I'm never involved. It is well narrated, with the tone of the author excellently reflected. Must listen to anyone interested in our legal system.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mikhail Tikilyaynen
  • 05-16-19

A mixed bag

So, this is essentially "This is going to hurt", but about the system of criminal justice. Depending on what you're after, this could be a good thing. The mix of battlefield stories and, um, general discourse (don't want to call it ranting, because it's more of a structured argument) is a lot more weighted towards the discourse than TIGTH.

If you read this, like me, to get a better idea of how the justice system is organised and is meant to function, this is a decent guide, and it isn't boring.

Or, if you're after some solid, unrelenting government-bashing, this is definitely for you. Some points are indeed interesting and fair, but it does leave you with a feeling that despite some effort from the author to achieve balance, you've had a bit of a one-sided lecture.

Still, pretty useful if you haven't paid much attention to how the law is served before.

8 people found this helpful

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  • David Higham
  • 05-07-19

Brilliant

I really enjoyed this audio book well written and delivered brilliantly engaged me throughout. I’d give 6 stars if possible. I’m a Police Officer and have had similar thoughts about the legal system for many years especially the insights about the court system. It was spot on and again well done .

8 people found this helpful

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  • ARC
  • 03-08-19

Long winded

I thought this book was going to be focused on specific cases and the errors and why they happened. It’s too wordy and not to the point. I’m 5 1/2hrs in and sick of it.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Dean
  • 09-30-20

very accurate

As a lawyer (although not in the UK, but in another Commonwealth jurisdiction), this rings true. Gives a "warts and all" assessment of what it can be to become a party (victim) to a battle within our legal sytem and how unjust it can be.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-01-18

Educational, enlightening and entertaining

A fascinating insight presented and narrated in a thoroughly entertaining way. Light-hearted and witty at times, while hard-hitting and thought-provoking at others.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Garfield
  • 03-23-22

Must Read

Consumed in a week.

Amazingly written for easy consumption, while tackling difficult topics from both sides.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-01-19

Really interesting and worthwhile book.

Really clearly and interestingly sets out the issues with the British criminal justice system and how they affect all of us. Definitely worth a listen even if you're not British or particularly knowledgeable about the law.