I enjoyed the Secret Barrister’s first book, earlier this year, but I took it a chapter at a time. Something about my particular mood at the moment meant I absolutely devoured Fake Law in under 24 hours, though, even as the Secret Barrister was tweeting about the PM’s presser today.
Fake Law is about the many misconceptions people have about the way British law works, and the way those misconceptions have been fostered by unscrupulous reporting, ignorant MPs, and a general lack of perspective. The various chapters deal with well-known cases and examples, discussing human rights law, sentencing, legal aid entitlements, immigration… and yes, the infamous (and unlawful) prorogation of Parliament on the advice of Boris Johnson. It’s definitely hot water, here: some people don’t want to hear that, yes, everybody should be entitled to a fair defence in court, and no, the government is not allowed to curtail Parliament when there is relevant business they should be attending to. People don’t want to hear that human rights law largely protects the deserving, that Charlie Gard could never have survived even with nucleoside therapy (which had not ever been tested in humans at that point anyway).
Of course, I’m a sympathetic ear to pretty much everything the Secret Barrister discusses which I was already aware of, and ready to trust their word on other points. Nonetheless, I think they make it plain that they’re not trying to play politics, here, except insofar as earnestly wanting to educate all British people about their legal rights goes. I might be able to make some guesses about where SB sits politically, but this book is not about that — it’s not intended to vindicate those who voted Remain, or excoriate a particular party (actually, people from both Labour and the Tories are roundly criticised at various points). It tries to explain why the things the tabloids want you to get outraged about are a bit more complicated than that.
I think it’s really readable, and accessible; I think it might be more broadly of interest and more useful to people than SB’s first book, though I think that’s a good read too. The Secret Barrister is right: ordinary people do not know enough about the law, not even to know our own rights, and it’s time that we learned.