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Mischief Wrought

Stephen Sedley: The Compensation Culture Myth, 4 March 2021

Fake Law: The Truth about Justice in an Age of Lies 
by the Secret Barrister.
Picador, 400 pp., £20, September 2020, 978 1 5290 0994 1
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... who enabled and encouraged them to do it. These have become our folk-devils.Enter, ex machina, the Secret Barrister (hereafter ‘SB’ and assumed for grammatical and syntactical purposes to be a woman), a blogger whose first book, The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken ...

Short Cuts

Francis FitzGibbon: The Court of Appeal, 11 October 2018

... there has been no improvement since then. The blogger and anonymous author of The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken (Picador, £16.99) exposes as a sham the claim that victims are at the heart of the system. They turn up at court, but the court has overfilled its list, and so they have to return months later, when ...


Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... the wake were Jean Justice, who told me he was a (rather elderly) law student, and his friend, a barrister called Jeremy Fox. I listened entranced to their assurances not only that Jimmy Hanratty had nothing to do with the A6 murder, but that they had been on intimate terms with the real killer: Peter Alphon. I was hooked on the case that gloomy February ...


John Sutherland, 15 September 1988

The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins 
by William Clarke.
Allison and Busby, 239 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 85031 960 9
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Wilkie Collins: Women, Property and Propriety 
by Philip O’Neill.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1988, 9780333421994
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... affairs, or scandals, as they would have seemed to his contemporaries. As its title suggests, The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins is sensational stuff, both in the Victorian and modern senses of ‘sensation’. But what kind of insight does a ‘secret life’ give us, and why do we want this kind of book so urgently? More ...

A Perfect Eel

Elaine Showalter: ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’, 21 June 2012

Lady Audley’s Secret 
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, edited by Lyn Pykett.
Oxford, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2012, 978 0 19 957703 3
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... or poetic justice’. Few of the novels Mansel reviewed are still read, but Lady Audley’s Secret (1862), the biggest seller of them all, is a significant exception. Mary Elizabeth Braddon was the most prolific of the sensationalists, publishing more than eighty novels, as well as poems, short stories and plays. She began to write at a time when the ...


John Sutherland, 21 March 1991

by Roger Scruton.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 236 pp., £13.95, February 1991, 9781856190480
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Slave of the Passions 
by Deirdre Wilson.
Picador, 251 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 330 31788 1
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The Invisible Worm 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1991, 1 85619 041 2
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The Secret Pilgrim 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 335 pp., £14.95, January 1991, 0 340 54381 7
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... There are many Roger Scrutons and it is not easy to reconcile them: barrister, aesthetician, champion of Senator Joseph McCarthy, teacher at Birkbeck College (an institution with a tradition of proletarian outreach), editor of the ultra-Tory Salisbury Review foxhunter. And novelist. Fortnight’s Anger (1981) was hard-going – a murky tale of adolescent sexuality full of sentences like: ‘Her hands trembled on his face and neck ...

Suspicion of Terrorism

Lucy Scott-Moncrieff: Detention without trial, 5 August 2004

... risk. This body is able to hear evidence in private if required. This enables it to consider any secret intelligence information, the disclosure of which might otherwise endanger the life of an undercover source or compromise, through the revelation of security methods, our ability to get early warning of impending threat without any security risk. The ...


Susan McKay: Soldier Dolls in Belfast, 21 April 2016

... during rape trials to use a woman’s sexual history to undermine her evidence. In one case the barrister for the accused forced a young woman to admit that she had a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, and that when the accused had tried to remove her T-shirt she had told him to ‘fuck off’. After giving this evidence the woman was in tears. The ...

The Thief and the Trousers

Owen Bennett-Jones: John Stonehouse disappears, 21 April 2022

Stonehouse: Cabinet Minister, Fraudster, Spy 
by Julian Hayes.
Robinson, 384 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 4721 4654 0
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John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story of the Runaway MP 
by Julia Stonehouse.
Icon, 384 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 78578 819 2
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... Labour MP for Morpeth, Will Owen, was charged with being an agent of the StB, Czechoslovakia’s secret service. The man who had named him was Josef Frolik, a Czechoslovak defector, who said Owen was on a £500 monthly retainer organised by Robert Husak, another intelligence officer at the Czechoslovak embassy in London. Owen, Frolik said, had been passing ...

The Eng. Lit. Patient

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Andrew Motion, 11 September 2003

The Invention of Dr Cake 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 142 pp., £12.99, February 2003, 0 571 21631 5
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Public Property 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 112 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 571 21859 8
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... of Andrew Motion’s novella, The Invention of Dr Cake. The action is the deduction of Dr Cake’s secret by the narrator, Dr Tabor. The book is presented in the form of documents supposedly written by Tabor and deposited in the archive of the Royal College of Surgeons. These are sandwiched between a foreword and afterword where Motion writes in the ...

Ravish Me

Daniel Soar: Sebastian Faulks, 5 November 2009

A Week in December 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 518 pp., £18.99, September 2009, 978 0 09 179445 3
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... less than secure. The train driver is befriended, and admired, by an impoverished and sympathetic barrister, who takes her out on dates – Chinese food, bottles of wine neither of them can really afford – and expresses an interest in her intellectual life. She should read more, he says, and waste less time with her computer. She has books, and wants to ...

Shee Spy

Michael Dobson, 8 May 1997

The Secret Life of Aphra Behn 
by Janet Todd.
Deutsch, 545 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 233 98991 9
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... in literature textbooks as ‘playwright and spy’.) After this paradoxically well-documented secret excursion, however (the letters Behn wrote under cover as agent 160, code-named Astrea, constitute the bulk of her surviving correspondence), the life pretty much disappears, and there remain only the traces of a prolific literary career. This begins with ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... upstairs neighbour, Scudder, reveals himself to be a freelance spy from Kentucky and shares the secret for which he’ll soon be murdered. It seems that there’s a conspiracy ‘to get Russia and Germany at loggerheads’, and that ‘the Jew’ is behind it:‘Do you wonder?’ he cried. ‘For three hundred years they have been persecuted, and this is ...


A.J.P. Taylor: The Mosleys and Other Affairs, 17 November 1983

... on visiting Brixton. The treatment of the Mosleys was indeed a scandal. Mosley and Diana made no secret of the fact that they thought British participation in the war against Germany a mistake. This is a view they were entitled to hold. The Government was justified in interning them in the short period when there was a danger, somewhat imaginary, of a German ...


Patrick Parrinder, 26 July 1990

The Sorrow of Belgium 
by Hugo Claus, translated by Arnold Pomerans.
Viking, 609 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 670 81456 3
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by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Virago, 260 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 85381 158 0
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A Sensible Life 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 364 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 9780593019306
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The Light Years 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Macmillan, 418 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 333 53875 7
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... protagonist’s consciousness. Louis is initially seen as the leader of the Apostles, a boys’ secret society, and his behaviour throughout the novel is a byword for furtiveness. Where the nuns at his boarding-school have an elaborate Book of Rules, the Apostles collect Forbidden Books which have been placed on the Vatican Index thanks to their quotient of ...

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