By the time this reaches you, I hope you will have enjoyed a couple of Bank Holiday weekends, an improvement in the weather and recovered from a surfeit of chocolate and the overdose of literary quotations squeezed into the last edition of The Advocate!
But an editorial would not be complete without one cultural reference: this edition’s quote comes from Woody Allen who once said, “Life doesn’t imitate art; it imitates bad television”. The articles in this issue rather challenge this assertion. I can’t be the only solicitor who watched Silk in a slightly masochistic manner. Could Martha really win a trial by making a speech to the jury about a completely different case? Why did she say that a defence solicitor’s advice to make no comment during an interview for murder was because it halved the time of the interview and this was a relevant consideration in times of fixed fees? Peter Moffat, writer of the programme, former barrister and supporter of the Save Legal Aid campaign, gives some answers in this edition’s interview.
My other recent viewing was the excellent BBC2 series Line of Duty, a drama about a unit investigating police corruption. As it was broadcast, current affairs amply demonstrated that truth can be stranger than fiction. The news that undercover officers had spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence during the original murder investigation is so reprehensible that it necessitated Theresa May’s announcement of a public inquiry. Jocelyn Cockburn and Natalie Sedacca write an excellent article about the need for checks and balances to be made on the state and how the ability to challenge the actions of those in authority will be eroded by the recent changes to funding.
This edition also carries a report on a workshop hosted by the University of Warwick in conjunction with Monash University, Australia, to examine the implication of the cuts to legal aid. It is apparent from information provided by Australian colleagues that cuts there have already had dire consequences.
So perhaps Woody Allen is wrong: life does not imitate bad television. If it did, Australia would have no need for concern about its legal aid budget. After all, it’s never featured as a concern in Neighbours or Home and Away.
– Mel Stooks, TV Edwards
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