“I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”
Stephen Wright, American actor and writer.
Wimbledon ticket prices plummeted when Andy Murray crashed out of Wimbledon after his straight sets defeat at the hands of the incredible hulk. Caroline has returned to work with her ex-boss Rod, and George is at home watching Criminal Justice, the new BBC five part drama. The children are staying with Caroline’s parents in Surrey for a week.
George had read that Bar Council Chairman Timothy Dutton QC had objected to the portrayal of barristers in the drama, written by former barrister Peter Moffat – issuing a press release to this effect on Monday 30th June. Timothy Dutton QC stated: “The drama shows barristers acting in breach of their professional obligations. In episode two a QC encourages a client to provide a false defence to a Court. Such conduct constitutes a grave breach of professional conduct and would be grounds for the barrister to be struck off. The Bar Council is very concerned at the portrayal in this way of a profession which works to the highest ethical standards.”
George had watched the first two episodes on BBC iPlayer, but was at home to watch the third episode. He rather liked the look of the female QC, Alison Slaughter. George, who had enjoyed nigh on a half bottle of Jack Daniels and several lines of cocaine, decided to ring his City lawyer friend Hugo. It was just after 10.00 pm
George: Hugo…George here… how are you? I’ve been at the Jack a bit…. but have you been watching this BBC drama, Criminal Justice?
Hugo: I work until 11.00 at night, George. I do not watch television dramas and certainly not dramas about criminal lawyers… I see quite enough law being done criminally each day… by other firms, of course.
George: Right. Your profession doesn’t come out too well… very dodgy in fact…. lawyers trying to encourage their clients to put false defences. Top banana at The Bar Council is none too pleased. Been banging off letters to all the papers. Even the Evening Standard got it – although it was exactly the same story as the one in the Daily Mail.
Hugo: And your point is…. George?
George: This Dutton guy… he has a point. Can’t have the legal profession being portrayed in an unfavourable light….. not good for values, for the economy… for society… respect for the law.
Hugo sighed, put his pen down, took off his expensive platinum frame glasses, put them on the desk and started laughing.
Hugo: Values?…. good to hear you know what they are…. I’d have thought if you were up on a charge you would want a barrister who bent the rules a bit?
George: Well…. you may have a point… but… hypothetically…. doesn’t Dutton have a point?
Hugo: Yes… Dutton has a point. Whether he will achieve anything in terms of changing public perception by making this point is quite another thing. The fact is that lawyers rank behind traffic wardens and estate agents in the affections of the public. This has some benefits. We are known to be rapacious, greedy, venal, bastards that no-one, apart from shrewd bankers, is surprised by the fee levels we charge… but, be that as it may, the BBC must be delighted that Dutton has waded in. Acres of news coverage for their drama. Moffat replies, quite sensibly (a) that it is drama and, rather more pointedly, said in the press today… and I quote from The Guardian… (b) “It is absolutely common practice for defendants to be prodded towards giving instructions which suit the best available defence.”
George: So Duttton is wrong?
Hugo: No… Dutton is right. Moffat did, however also point out, as the Daily Mail reported, and I quote: “Timothy Dutton … seeks to reassure us that defence practitioners act to the highest standards. Does this include the barrister disciplined recently for punching his opponent in court? Or the defence practitioner who sent documentary ‘evidence’ (in fact invented and drafted by himself) from an internet cafe in Oxford Street to his opponent?
‘It is about time the Bar faced the fact that like every other profession it has brilliant and fair-minded practitioners, those of average ability and the violent, dishonest and stupid working within it.’
George: So there are bent barristers?
Hugo: You must reach your own conclusions on these matters, George. On the other hand…. if you would like a professional opinion on the matter… I take AMEX, Visa and Mastercard…. do you have your card with you?… I need the 16 digit code and the three digit security number… and, as you are pissed, I may as well take your PIN number as well.
George: OK…OK….It’s only a drama…. and… yeah…. you don’t get many lawyers admitting to being lawyers down at Mahiki. Fancy going to Mahiki tomorrow night?
Hugo: No… but we could try another bar or go over to Brinkley’s. By the way… have you seen Katja again?
George: No… we had a quick shag at Ascot…. but she’s due over here again for Henley? You going to Henley?
Hugo: Yes I am. Why are you going to Henley, George? You know nothing about rowing.
George: Bit of business. Day out… bit of drinking… the usual….networking…and tax deductible… got a minor Arab Sheik coming from Qatar or some other Emirate…. who likes to break free while he is over here… and, f course, Katja is coming over…. Oh… and I’m taking one of my near neighbours… an Audi Quattro TT driving prat who finds himself fascinating.
Hugo: I may see you there. I must now return to my paperwork… time is money…. Profits per equity partner are rather important here.