Category Archives: Review

Book Review: Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories

Title -Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories
Author-Thomas Grant QC
Publisher – Hodder and Stoughton

An earlier version of this review was published in The London Advocate here

As the title suggests , this book summarises some of the many illustrious cases in which Jeremy Hutchinson appeared. It is not a conventional biography, and all the better for it.
Hutchinson was defence counsel of choice in some of the greatest trials in the 1960s and 1970s. His roll-call of cases includes defending both Christine Keeler and Howard Marks, as well as appearing for Penguin Books in the “Lady Chatterly” trial.
He was always well prepared, speaking fearlessly to Judges and clearly to juries.
What is clear is that as much as highly regarded, he was also greatly liked, by colleagues, solicitors and clients alike. He is one of those characters about whom it is hard to find anyone having a bad word to say, and his natural modesty meant he never put pen to paper to set out an auto-biography, despite several invitations to do so.
Thankfully, Thomas Grant QC, who met Hutchinson (now over 100) a few years ago has performed a valuable service in penning this book, telling (thematically rather than chronologically) the stories of some of the best cases from Hutchinson’s career.
Each fascinates, and even those that are already familiar pieces of social history are brought vividly to life. Hutchinson is the “golden thread” that binds together the battles played out in the Old Bailey- defending alleged spies and traitors, peace protesters, art thieves, and battling against reactionary forces- from heavy handed Government to Mary Whitehouse. This is a book that is informative but also a pleasure to read, and should appeal equally to a wide readership, not just (as is often the case in legal biographies) lawyers.
Grant makes the case that Hutchinson represents the finest traditions of the Independent Bar.
He certainly had the right background (son of an eminent QC and Judge, public school education followed by Oxbridge, and an opportunity to be a Judge’s Marshall with a “family friend”). He bought his first home with the proceeds of a Monet painting that he had been gifted. That’s not the start that all of us enjoy.
Hutchinson was nonetheless happy to take on the establishment if that what was justice required, and did so defending without fear or favour.
Hutchinson also had an extraordinary upbringing- the family being connected with the Bloomsbury set. For this reviewer, the introductory chapter that charts the connections with numerous well known luminaries of the era was the least satisfactory. Of more interest are the wonderful portraits in the case histories of some of the legal characters of the day-an array of cantankerous opponents and eccentric Judges.
Reading about the trials is a reminder how much has changed from what was a truly adversarial system to the case managed process of today. Here you will be reminded of the days of contested committals with live witnesses, defences not disclosed until the start of the case, the right to jury challenge, and the absolute right to silence without adverse comment.
In one case, Hutchinson introduces without prior notice a defence witness who would only identify himself as “Agent X”, who purportedly worked for the Mexican Secret Service and gave evidence that the defendant had also done so. No “Notice of Defence Witnesses” required!
The longest case that Hutchinson ever conducted was a multi-handed drug importation which lasted two months. Now similar cases can last much longer, due to the modern tendency to “read” or play long passages of intercept transcripts, and lengthy mobile telephone and cell-site material. But it is not just trial length that has increased- so have the length of sentences, leading to a phenomenal rise in the prison population. Heavy sentencing and overcrowded prisons are matters that Hutchinson deprecates, and in his retirement from the bar he has, amongst many other worthwhile endeavours, supported Penal Reform and campaigned for the abolition of the “dock”.
We need advocates of his calibre and courage just as much today, to challenge the power of the State with it’s increased surveillance powers, and discrimination and prejudice that still exists in the CJS as the Lammy report has revealed.
The book concluded with a postscript from Jeremy Hutchinson himself, then a sprightly almost Centurion. He explains how when called to the bar there was no formal advocacy training, and he learned his trade by countless appearances in the Magistrates Court. This will strike a chord with many solicitor HCAs who trained in the same way, yet are criticised by some at the bar for “lack of training”. He laments Government cuts to Legal Aid, and lambasts a recent incumbent of the office of Lord Chancellor- the odious Chris Grayling. Still forthright, his views remained cogent to the end.
This book is an affectionate tribute to one of the greats of Adversarial Advocacy. Mr Grant clearly grew to like Jeremy Hutchinson very much. After reading this book so will you.



A Practitioner’s Guide to Judicial Review in the Criminal Justice System and Related Areas

Publ. By HART

Various Authors (General Editor Piers con Berg)

Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first book exclusively devoted to the topic of Criminal Judicial Review.

Do we need one?

Having read this, I think the answer is yes.

Those of us who practice exclusively in criminal law know that there is JR and associated remedies, but not necessarily the range of areas that Public Law can cover, or how to properly bring a review where appropriate.

In other words, you need to spot the point, to take the point.

In an era of increasing specialism, many Criminal Practitioners retain only a hazy idea of the principles of Judicial Review, leaving JR to the “experts”, many of whom are not criminal lawyers. 

LCCSA members may therefore be interested in this book, which brings together areas of both Criminal and Public Law and presents them in a practitioner guide which should equip any practitioner to access the relevant materials and prepare the relevant arguments.

The book is thematically arranged, with topics tackled by different authors (many from 36 Bedford Row) setting out the key principles and identifying grounds arising from conduct of (amongst others) the police, the Courts and Prisons.

Judicial Review allows claims to be made against any Public Authority which has acted unlawfully, including the IPPC or even the LAA.

As members will know, the LCCSA  used JR to challenge the flawed consultation imposed on criminal lawyers by the Ministry of Justice. Although the MOJ ultimately won that at the Appeal Court, there have been ten successful Judicial Reviews against the Ministry of Justice under Grayling’s tenure.

An over-riding concept in Criminal Judicial Review is “serious abuse of power”, and the scope includes police investigations and prosecutorial decisions, as well as oversight of the Courts.  These topics are ably covered in this book.

As a practitioner guide, the book rightly covers the mechanisms for bringing JR., the forms, procedures and timetables that apply, and equally important the availability of legal aid and  the way in which cases can be billed (including costs orders). The editor makes the point that at a time of huge cuts in legal aid funding, costs in some JR cases can be claimed at commercial rates.

Commendably, the book does not steer clear of controversy, suggesting for example possible challenges following the recent appellate decision in DAVIS.

Both Counsel and solicitors have contributed and each has brought their own area of expertise.

All appear enthused by the subject, which really comes to life and takes the novice through all the relevant steps from taking instructions to grant of submission and beyond. 

The chapter on Procedure by Grainne Mellon (Garden Court) is particularly helpful.

The book has a clear and simple style, is easy to use and will meet the needs of the practitioner.

In my view it will become the “go-to” book for Judicial Review.