Weekend Books – Online Courts and the Future of Justice

Irish barrister Andrew McKeown critically examines the proposals put forward by legal tech expert Professor Richard Susskind in his latest book.

Published 20 December 2019

Weekend Books – The Crown Agent

Lawyer and author Willie McIntyre was highly impressed with advocate Stephen O'Rourke's debut novel. A launch event is being held for the book at Waterstones in Edinburgh on November 7 and will be chaired by Murdo MacLeod QC. One third of royalties from the sale of the book in the UK will go to the Tumbling Lassie charity. Pre-order a copy here.

Published 4 October 2019

Weekend Books — The Battle of the Four Courts

Irish Legal News assistant editor Connor Beaton reviews an account of the 1922 battle between supporters and opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which all but destroyed the Four Courts, home to the superior courts of Ireland.

Published 17 May 2019

Weekend Films — Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Director Joe Berlinger's new Ted Bundy biopic arrives in cinemas and on Sky Cinema today amid a storm of controversy over its casting of former teen heart-throb Zac Efron as the notorious murderer, rapist and necrophile who killed at least 30 women in the 1970s.

Published 3 May 2019

Peterloo Massacred

Graham Ogilvy is disappointed by Mike Leigh’s newly released epic Peterloo.

Published 16 November 2018

Revolting Prostitutes

Writing for our sister publication Irish Legal News, Dublin solicitor Wendy Lyon examines the new book by sex workers and activists Juno Mac and Edinburgh-based Molly Smith.

Published 9 November 2018

Review: BlackBerry KEY2 smartphone

Published 5 October 2018

The secret’s out

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken

Published 7 September 2018

Review: Microsoft Surface Pro LTE

Published 31 July 2018

Film Review — In the Fade

Following the conclusion earlier this week of the five-year-long National Socialist Underground (NSU) trial in Munich, In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts) from German-Turkish director Fatih Akin makes particularly timely viewing.Based very loosely on the string of racist murders committed by the NSU between 2000 and 2007, the film follows widow Katja’s (Diane Kruger) defiant struggle for justice after her Kurdish husband (Numan Acar) and son are killed in a terrorist bombing in Hamburg. Its intimate focus on one family’s story delivers an emotional gut-punch that was always absent from Germany's dehumanising tabloid headlines which infamously branded the NSU crimes as Döner-Morde (Kebab Murders).The first of In the Fade’s three, deliberately-cleaved acts is a devastating portrait of a broken family, bringing stark exposition to the human cost of right-wing extremism. Its second is an intense courtroom drama which affords a useful and critical insight into the criminal process under Germany’s inquisitorial system. The third turns its sights on the too scarcely-discussed international networks of neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists that stretch from Germany to Greece.Along the way, unfortunately, much is introduced and then left unaddressed. Katja’s conflict with family, lawyers and her relationship with recreational drug use is seemingly introduced to flesh out her character, then discarded without further reference. Perhaps this was deliberate – denying meaningful closure to the audience in the same way it was denied to Katja by the death of her family. The frequent denial of catharsis does strengthen the film’s staying power.It’s important that neither Katja nor her late husband, a rehabilitated drug dealer, are perfect, unflawed people. Too often in today’s political climate, the transgressions that make us human are used to justify stripping thousands of their humanity. Germany’s police, whose conduct came under scrutiny during the real-life NSU trial, are implicitly criticised when they are shown stubbornly standing by their instincts that the film’s murders are linked to gangsters or Islamists.It should surprise readers none that In the Fade makes tough viewing. This is cinema as imperfect polemic, not escapism. But as Europe continues to stumble from one political crisis to another, we need powerful reminders like this of what awaits down the road of nationalistic hatred that still tempts too many. Brace yourself, but see it.Connor BeatonIn the Fade (2017), dir. Fatih Akin, distributed in the UK and Ireland by Curzon Artificial Eye. Now in cinemas, DVD release 20 August 2018

Published 13 July 2018

Book review – The Scottish Parliament: Law and Practice

Often mis-attributed to Bismark, the poet John Godfey Saxe is reputed to have said that “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made”. The authors of this book are both lawyers with a wealth of political experience, and this combination makes them well placed to consider both the internal working of the Scottish Parliament and the constitutional context within which it operates.

Published 26 March 2018

Film Review — Detroit

Fifty years on from the riots that rocked Detroit in 1967, director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) brings alive one of its most infamous and disputed incidents in an intense and powerful cinematic polemic against racial injustice.

Published 8 September 2017

Tartan is back in

The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner by John Keay

Published 1 September 2017

Lindell's List

The title of this book refers to an incident in April 1945. In response to the denial by SS Guards that there were any Anglo-American prisoners being held at Ravensbrück concentration camp, Mary Lindell, the subject of what might be loosely termed a biography, bravely stepped forward and produced a list of names for the visiting Red Cross officials. She and her fellow prisoners were then evacuated by White Buses to Sweden, preventing them from being used as hostages, being shot or even quite simply dying from disease in the final days of the war.

Published 21 April 2017

Classic text blighted by Chinese whispers

The Ruler's Guide by Chinghua Tang

Published 7 April 2017