Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve; Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers ( a constituent of mine), Shami Chakrabati of Liberty; Sir Geoffrey Bindman
When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one defining moment?
It just somehow or other happened. I became involved in a (successful) campaign to have prison removed for street prostitutes and then injustice issues and campaigns kept coming along like so many buses.
Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human rights work?
I was admitted as a Solicitor after five years of articles as they then were extended to six years since I failed criminal law the first time. My Principal as then termed was a conveyancing and probate practitioner. I cannot explain it either.
What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Helping to fight off when Criminal Law Committee Chair the removal of jury trial for “either way” allegations. Even our friends told us we were going to lose.
What has been the low-point?
The seven fatal attacks over recent times launched by Iraqi military forces in cahoots with the Iranian regime upon unarmed and defenceless Iranian refugees in Camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq.
Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
The prospect of the introduction for the first time on the United Kingdom mainland of the use of water cannon.
What is your favourite human right?
They are one and indivisible but the absolute prohibition on torture, lamentably, seems ever hotly topical
Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
There are so many but to select one so often in my anxious thoughts the Prison Reform Trust. We should all collectively hang our heads in shame over the indifference one Government after another has shown over the ever increasing and disproportionate use of prison at ruinous expense to the nation and with counterproductiveness as its watchword.
What is your dream job?
Honestly? My present one undertaking Higher Court Advocacy to include jury trials, a lot of the time in front of Judges with whom I have undertaken committee and pro-bono work. Come to that, I gave some of them their earliest briefs. They do me no favours but equally they do not give me a bad time. Also I have the leavening of pro-bono activities for the legal profession globally and for others likewise through the Human Rights Committee and other affiliations.
When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
I pull them no longer; I need my sleep at nudging on seventy. But for many decades I spent literally sleepless nights undertaking police station advice and then going straight to Court for a day`s advocacy. With others I set up the statutory duty scheme in Birmingham. It was then and remains the second largest duty scheme in the country.
What was the last book you read?
Embarrassing really but a thriller “Want you Dead” by Peter James. Good of its genre and I do also read a lot about current issues which cause me to fret so. For example, Lord David Ramsbotham`s “Prisongate” and “Out of Sight, out of mind”, by a former Prison Governor whose name just escapes me (a senior moment) but both searing indictments of the abrogation of responsibility for the scandal of our prisons.