Stephen Sedley

Stephen Sedley is a former judge of the High Court and Court of Appeal. His anth­ology (with Martin Carthy) of British folk songs about crime and punishment, Who Killed Cock Robin?, is out now.

Keep the baby safe: Corrupt and Deprave

Stephen Sedley, 10 March 2022

Everyone​ knows that Mervyn Griffith-Jones QC asked an Old Bailey jury in 1960 whether Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a book they would want their wives or servants to read. The jury – which included three women – is said to have laughed. Its acquittal of Penguin on a charge of violating the newly minted Obscene Publications Act 1959 is widely regarded as a turning point...

A Decent Death

Stephen Sedley, 21 October 2021

Dismissing all compassionate assistance as killing seeks to pre-empt the very issue under debate. Nobody, by contrast, doubts the importance and worth of palliative care, or the entitlement of individuals to hold whatever belief they choose about suffering, even if it consigns them to a lingering death. What they do not have is a right to force it on others.

Knife, Stone, Paper: Law Lords

Stephen Sedley, 1 July 2021

Workingin 2010 on a knotty judgment about the power of the home secretary to include additional criteria in immigration rules that she had previously laid before Parliament as required by statute, something clicked in my memory. Four centuries earlier, in 1611, in a decision known as the Case of Proclamations, it had been ruled that ‘the King by his proclamation or other ways cannot...

TheUnited Kingdom has in recent years been blighted by a compensation culture generated by health and safety legislation and human rights laws and promoted by well-paid legal aid lawyers and credulous judges. We know these to be facts because newspapers and electronic media have exposed them fearlessly. David Cameron, when he was prime minister, was so concerned about the situation that he...

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley, 16 July 2020

The poet​ and songwriter Sydney Carter – remember ‘Lord of the Dance’? – wasn’t the only observer to notice that the 1950s British folk song revival was being accompanied, and occasionally drowned out, by the clang of cash registers. His song ‘Man with the Microphone’ began:

As I roved out one morningI was singing a country songI met a man with a...

At Sunday mass in my North London parish there was recently imposed a ‘New People’s Mass’. It came suddenly and without warning. One week, we were all enjoying versions of the...

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In a narrow pass

Derek Hirst, 19 November 1992

Stephen Sedley and Lawrence Kaplan seek to map a new course for the post-socialist Left, and to turn attention away from that beguiling but now exploded theme, egalitarianism. The long fixation...

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