I think it’s safe to say that The Secret Barrister is easily the scariest book I’ve read in a long time. The one takeaway you instantly get from it is that you never want to get involved in the UK legal system.
Unfortunately, even if you’re a squeaky clean individual who does nothing wrong, there are many ways for you to get caught up in the actions of others, and this book highlights some of the frankly horrific consequences. But what is very clear is that the most iniquitous parts of the system mostly affect the poorest in society.
The anonymous barrister who’s written the book gives us potted histories of why our legal system is what it is, and then gets into the big problems that we have with it.
Some of the major problems are very structural – relying far to heavily on volunteer magistrates for example – but many are caused by a lack of funding. I think I’ve been aware just how much has been stripped out of the Department of Justice, but it impacts less on the middle class because most use things like schools or the NHS. Relatively few of that class fall foul of the law.
An essential book.