Although this isn’t the usual kind of book I read and review on my YouTube channel and blog, (it’s not a business or personal development book) I picked it up in light of a previous book that I read, “This is Going to Hurt” by Adam Kay, which was written by a junior doctor and gave a fascinating insight into the workings of the National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK.
So, this book, The Secret Barrister, was suggested to me by Amazon, and I bought it, thinking it would be extremely interesting to learn more about our criminal justice system to go with my newly found NHS knowledge.
What’s this book about?
This book is written anonymously, hence the title, “The Secret Barrister.” The author is indeed a qualified barrister who is currently practicing criminal law in the UK.
In his book (I am assuming ‘his book’ due to the fact that most registered barristers in the UK are male, but it could be ‘her book’), he highlights the problems within our legal system and discusses why the problems exist, how they came about, and how the system is failing to protect the innocent and convict the guilty.
The book begins by providing an overview of the history of our criminal justice system, including an explanation of why it works in the way that it does, along with explaining the roles and responsibilities of the different people in a courtroom. I found this part of the book to be rather boring and hard to get through. However, you do need to read this part to appreciate the stories that the author recalls later in the book.
What did I get out of reading this book?
Many people assume that because they are law-abiding citizens, the criminal justice system doesn’t apply to them. I thought this too; I’m not a criminal therefore I will never need this system.
In hindsight, the book highlighted how much I didn’t know about the criminal justice system and my ignorance towards the subject.
Even though you may have no intention of committing a crime, what would happen should you, unfortunately, find yourself a victim of a crime? If you choose to seek justice, what is the process? How long is it likely to take? Who is going to legally represent you? How much is it likely to cost? We all need to know the answers to these questions.
So, if you’re a UK citizen, I do strongly advise that you read this book and learn about the good and bad parts of a legal system that should be protecting you.
It’s very clear when reading this book that the author is very intelligent and very well educated. The sentences are long, the language is challenging in places, and it can be a complex read.
If you are someone who enjoys a lighter, simpler read, then this book might present a challenge to you. For me, personally, I am not a strong reader (even though I read a lot of books) and I did find this book to be difficult at times, especially in the first few chapters. However, once I became accustomed to the author’s writing style, it became much easier to read and digest.
So, if you do find it difficult in the beginning, stick with it!
Misleading information in the media
I found it quite shocking to discover that when the media get involved with reporting on criminal cases, they don’t all fully understand the system, which can lead to confusing and misleading (and sometimes just plain incorrect) information being digested by the general public.
I have seen similar things happen in the industry that I work in.
For those that don’t know, I have a business that focusses on dressage, which is a sport that most people know nothing about. (It’s also known as the ‘dancing horses’) When you read an editorial piece about dressage that’s written by someone who has no understanding of the sport, it can be very misleading and is often full of incorrect information. While that kind of misinformation can be annoying, it’s not that important in the general scheme of things since it has no real repercussions.
However, when it comes to writing about the criminal justice system and the laws and legalities of this country, misinformation is a bit more serious. Nevertheless, the media is still publishing articles that are not telling the full (or factual) story, which I found alarming.
I assumed that when publishing information on such an important topic, they would at least have someone who was experienced and qualified in the field of criminal justice who could help advise. How wrong was I?!
Wrong place at the wrong time
Be warned that after reading this book, you may feel concerned about venturing out into the big wide world. I know I certainly did.
The Secret Barrister highlights how people can so easily become victims of ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ Should you be accused of a crime, you will have to jump the hurdles of the criminal justice system to prove your innocence. This could be a very lengthy (years!) and costly (£150,000+) process. At the end of it, should your innocence remain intact, you get simply sent back to your day-to-day life as a normal citizen, albeit with a few more stress lines and a lighter wallet. (!!)
If you are found guilty of a crime that you never committed, you may be imprisoned for several years. Even if new evidence comes to light that proves you not-guilty, you get released from prison (after losing your home, job, and life) which nothing more than a ‘sorry about that’ note.
That aspect of the book was terrifying!
Have you read The Secret Barrister?
This review of The Secret Barrister is my own personal and honest opinion.
If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know what you thought of it. Drop me a comment and don’t forget to give the book your own review in the box below.
The Secret Barrister
This book is written anonymously, hence the title, “The Secret Barrister.” The author is a barrister who is currently practicing criminal law in the UK. If you’re a UK citizen, I do strongly advise that you read this book and learn about the good and bad parts of a legal system that should be protecting you.
Your review is appreciated