Criminal Justice

THE BBC has aired its five part drama series Criminal Justice. The series showed the experience of a youngman falsely accused of a crime and his journey through the criminal justice system. The character, Ben Coulter, is first a police suspect, later a defendant and then a prisoner.


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. At a time when public funding of criminal defence is under sustained attack, PeterMoffatt, the writer, appears to havemissed the real story.

Commenting on the series the Chairman Bar Council TimDutton QC said: “The Bar’s Code of Conduct requires every barrister to act to the highest ethical standards so that the interests of Justice are served. Naturally some licence needs to be taken for dramatic purposes. But Criminal Justice goes too far. Publicly funded criminal defence practitioners continue to serve members of the public in the most difficult circumstances. Even though the system is chronically underfunded, they act to the highest standards. Counsel’s first duty is to the Court and to the interests of justice. Criminal justice is not a game and it is a travesty to suggest that practitioners see it in that way.”

 

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