Matt Foot

Matt Foot is co-director of the legal charity Appeal.

Short Cuts: Corrupt Cops

Matt Foot, 8 February 2024

Mr Bates v. The Post Office​ has brought into public consciousness the devastating impact of wrongful convictions, and the endless delays and obstacles to exoneration and compensation. I have spent 25 years working as a criminal defence lawyer and have yet to find anyone who knows of a single police officer being convicted for their role in a wrongful conviction.

Following the release of the...

Diary: Children of the Spied-On

Matt Foot, 29 June 2023

In​ 2015 Theresa May, who was then home secretary, announced that there would be an inquiry into undercover policing and the operation of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). This secret unit, whose purpose was to infiltrate subversive groups, was set up in 1968 as part of Special Branch in response to protests against the Vietnam War. Only a handful of...

From The Blog
19 May 2022

The home secretary, Priti Patel, spoke this week at the annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales in Manchester. ‘Nobody does a harder job or a better one than the police,’ she said. ‘And no one does more, in my view, to make our country great. And nobody gives greater public service.’ The opening section of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which received royal assent last month, enshrines a new ‘police covenant’. Introducing the idea in February 2020, Patel said: ‘Too many officers are paying the price for their astonishing devotion to public duty … This covenant is a pledge to do more to recognise the service and sacrifice of our police and to deliver the urgent practical support they need.’

The Magic Trousers: Police Racism

Matt Foot, 7 February 2019

In​ April 2014 I was asked to represent a man called Gurpal Virdi. The last time I had heard that name was ten years earlier at a memorial service for my father, Paul Foot, at the Hackney Empire. There, Virdi had immediately stood out, as a serving police officer addressing a largely Marxist audience. In 1998 he had been suspended from the Metropolitan Police for ‘sending racist hate...

From The Blog
26 November 2013

In 1929 my great-grandfather Isaac Foot introduced one of the first legal aid acts in Parliament, the Poor Prisoners Defence Act. He was a solicitor in Plymouth as well as the Liberal MP for Bodmin, and one of his clients, a poor girl, was facing a murder charge with no financial support in the magistrates court. ‘A prisoner who is without means,’ he said, ‘ought to be in no worse position to establish his innocence than a prisoner who is able to pay.’

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences