Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Rough Justice

Are you watching the fascinating series, Garrow, about the 18th century London barrister who champions the victims of the rough justice which existed in those days?  William can't bear to see women and young children being sent to the gallows for trifling offences.  Garrow was a real person who became a politician and judge and who reformed our advocacy system.  He introduced the phrase  'innocent until proven guilty', insisting that defendants' accusers and their evidence be thoroughly tested in court.
My book, The A-Z of Punishment and Torture, highlights some of the kind of cases Garrow would have defended and the lives he would have saved, had he been able.  We owe him a great deal.


  1. And some are 'innocent' even when proven 'guilty'. A top-drawer hanky or a loaf of bread snatched from a market stall by a starving guttersnipe could send him to the gallows or, later, to hopeless slavery in Virginia or Australia. I'd love to take a look at that series, Irene. Sadly, it'll be forever until it reaches France -- if it ever does. Maybe I can pick it up on DVD somewhere. Thanks for the tip. Neil

  2. I never watch telelvision, but I learned something today, and that's the origin of this epithet. It's funny how little we know about sayings we use so blithely. I shall now always imagine this earnest little advocate, probably quite shabby in appearance, but sharp in mind, who scurried around, hardly knowing his effect on how people think about justice.

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