Garrow’s Law: Series Two real cases

November 13, 2010

Hi everyone,

I’ve been quite busy getting the info on the real cases that inspired this season’s Garrow’s Law.

Here is a piece I wrote in the Guardian:

And here is a much longer piece that I did for the BBC website.

Happy surfing!

Episode 2: Some inspirations from my research

November 9, 2009


I hope you enjoyed Episode 2.

Before I get to the monster, I want to mention the first case that was featured – about the guy that had nicked the brass harness the guy in the employment of William Champion Crespigny.   This is inspired by a real case. The guy was a gent from Cavendish Square.  One of the things that was so striking was that Garrow really laid into him.  He didn’t approach him with any deference, or care about his rank or position, he saw everyone as being equal before the law.

The other thing that was striking about the case was that it showed Garrow putting the idea of everyone being presumed innocent until proven guilty into practice  – he doesn’t put the defendant on the stand and the defendant doesn’t say anything.  Everything is about testing the prosecution case.   Garrow wins, without the defendant having to speak and a new legal precident is on the way to being established.

If you are interested in reading more about this case, you can find the records of it on the Proceedings of the Old Bailey online, here:|Champion|Crespigny#highlight

Now, the Monster.  Again, this was inspired by a real case.  One of the things that I thought was interesting was that the press played a key role in whipping up a storm. The Monster was a real cause celebre at the time, maybe the first celebrity criminal.  It had london in a fever.  I was excited by the case because I thought that I gave a good window onto the role of the press, as well as on the topic of prosecutions for reward, rather than by by police.  The other reason was that it allowed us to touch on what’s known as the ‘cab rank rule’ .   This is the rule that says that barristers have to take whatever case they’re asked to do, regardless of how they feel about it.  In the words of the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg,

‘The “cab rank” rule is one of the glories of the Bar. It underscores that every member of the Bar is obliged, without fear or favour, to represent clients who offer themselves, regardless of how unpopular they may be in the community or elsewhere.’

As to the stuff that inspired the case, well, there really was a Monster who terrorised the streets of London, stabbing women in the bum, and also, and this really not nice, stabbing them in the face with a sharp implement disguised in bouquets of flowers.  For more info on the Monster, there are a few good sources of information. One is a book by Jan Bondeson: This is really really thorough.  Of course, nothing beats going down the British Library and seeing the real stories as they were reported in the newspapers! It involved a number of legal complexities (all the stuff about the cutting of cloth etc) and the actual case was indeed respited for the 12 judges.

Here are some links that you might find interesting:|williams#highlight
Also, Tony Marchant, writer and Co-creator was interviewed on Start The Week today.  It’s available on Iplayer.