William Clegg QC: “Under the Wig – A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and […]” | Talks at Google

William Clegg QC: “Under the Wig – A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and […]” | Talks at Google

Thank you very much. I never thought I would write
a book when the publishers came to see me two and a half years
ago in my offices in 2 Bedford Row in London, and put
to me the proposal that has ended up with this
book, “Under the Wig.” The book itself is unusual. It is certainly not a
standard autobiography. And if it was
going to be that, I don’t think I would
have agreed to write it. The purpose of the book
is to really demystify the profession of being a
barrister to the layman. It explains how you become a
barrister, how you qualify, how you join a set
of chambers, which is what we call our offices. How you develop a
practice, how you prepare a case, how you
prepare questions, win the confidence of a judge. How you might become a QC,
how you might become a judge, and so on. And it does it in a
way that hopefully makes it digestible
to people who really have little or no
idea about how the law works. I think in order to make the
book slightly more attractive as a commercial venture, they’ve
interspersed every chapter with another chapter, in
which I have talked about one of the cases that
I’ve been involved in over the years, that
people will often remember, and which for one
reason or another, is of general interest. They include, for example, those
with long memories, the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon
Common, when I defended a man called Colin Stagg,
who was charged and found not guilty of her murder. And very unusually, my defensive
of the man who had actually committed that murder for
another murder, where he murdered a mother and child
very near Plumstead Common a few years later. There was the shooting
of Jill Dando, the TV presenter
of the “Holiday” program and “Crimewatch.” The Chillenden
murders, the murder of Doctor Lin Russell
and her daughter. And the attempted murder
of the second daughter, Josie Russell, who made
a miraculous recovery from the injuries. And cases that I’ve done with
“Rough Justice,” a program that worked on BBC, trying to
correct miscarriages of justice. One quite amusing
case involving a man being convicted on
the basis of an ear print, which was
completely and utterly debunked in a
subsequent trial, where he was found to be not guilty. The trial of Private Clegg, a
paratrooper in Northern Ireland in the Troubles, who was
convicted of murder when the patrol that he was on
was driven at by a stolen car at high speed,
and they opened fire, and the backseat
passenger was killed. And the forensic evidence that
ultimately turned that trial, again in a retrial
situation, to result in a verdict of not guilty. And some war crimes trials,
that I may talk about a little later. So that is the sort of
way the book is set out. And reverting to the sort of
theme of today’s talk, murder, I’ve defended, in my career,
over 100 people charged with murder. And I presume that the
first question really to ask is, who is likely to kill you? Statistically, it
is not going to be the stranger in the street,
grabbing you on the way home and killing you,
or a man or woman breaking into your house
with a sawn-off shotgun to commit a burglary
and shooting you. The person most
likely to kill you is your partner, your
parent, or your child. And that is, I’m afraid,
a statistical fact. Murder by stranger is
actually very rare. They are, in fact,
for us lawyers the most interesting cases. Because so often,
murder in the family doesn’t require a great deal
of detective work to solve. And hence, they don’t
provide for a challenge so far as us lawyers
are concerned. So the ones that we
find interesting, indeed the ones in this book,
are, all but one, I think, examples of stranger murders. But statistically,
they are very rare. Why do people commit murder? Having reflected very
much on 100-plus murders that I have defended,
most murderers, most people who kill, have
no previous convictions of any kind. They are not people
who’ve been in trouble with the police in the past. They haven’t been
stealing and fighting during the course of their life. Most occasions,
they are people who have just snapped, for
one reason or another, and struck out with
terrifying results. And I do subscribe to a theory
that it is within all of us the power to commit murder. And everybody here
will say, of course, but I would never do it. You may look at
the chap next door, and think, not sure about him. But I would never do it. Whatever the strains
and stresses in my life, I would never kill
another human being. I’m afraid the evidence tends
to suggest to the contrary. For my part, at any rate, and
I put the mentally ill to one side, who undoubtedly
do feature significantly in murder statistics,
putting them to one side, I can, for my part,
sympathize, although not condone, of course, the plight
of a single mother bringing up a child in a bedsit, driven mad
by a child screaming all night, who shakes the child
until the child stops because it stops breathing. I can also understand,
but not condone– sorry– understand but
not condone the attraction to an unemployed black boy who
has no qualifications seeking peer approval by carrying a
knife in a gang where he feels belonged and perhaps respected
for the only time in his life. But I think the
best demonstration of the fact that it is
within the power of all of us to commit murder is to
look at what has happened in the field of war crimes. My practice has involved
defending people accused of war crimes, both committed
in the Second World War and in the Balkans conflict. I think it was in 1991 that
Parliament in this country passed the War Crimes Act. Mrs. Thatcher was
the prime minister. She was an enthusiast
of the act. She had a constituency
in North London with a high Jewish population,
who were bringing pressure on her to try war criminals
in this country who were still alive, and had been named by
the Simon Wiesenthal Center as war criminals, but we’re
living here completely safe from prosecution. Because our law does not allow
us to try extraterritorial offenses unless
statute so provides. So, for example,
take a simple case, if you go shoplifting in Paris,
you can’t be tried in London. You could be tried in Paris. If I go and punch somebody
on the nose in Berlin, I commit a crime in Berlin. I commit no crime here. And so it applies with murder. If you go and murder
somebody in Poland, then you’ve committed
a murder there. That’s where the
crime is committed. You haven’t committed
any crime here. You can’t be tried here. Of course, the trouble
with the war crimes was that the majority of the
crimes that concerned people in this country
had been committed in that corridor between
the Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia, down
through Poland, into Belarus and the Ukraine, that were
a corridor that was invaded by the Nazis during
the Second World War and which had a high Jewish
population, following from the expulsion of
the Jews from Russia, by, I think it was,
Peter the Great. So there was a significant
corridor of Europe that did have quite a
significant Jewish population. And for historic
reasons, quite a few of the people involved in those
killings ended up in London. And I’ll explain
why a little later. But it’s a curious
story in itself. And they, of course, could
not be prosecuted here, because the crime had been
committed in Belarus or Poland. And they couldn’t
be prosecuted there, because when the
Iron Curtain was up, there was no question of
any extradition in relation to those countries at all. And indeed, they would probably
not be liable to extradition, because you can’t
extradite somebody who’s going to face the death
penalty in the country to which they are going, unless there’s
a copper-bottomed guarantee by that government that
they will not be executed. So they had been living here
quite normally since the Second World War. And were then, already, old men. The first man to be
arrested for war crimes was a man called
Szymon Serafinowicz. And I came to represent
him by pure chance. A solicitor who used to instruct
our chambers with fairly mundane cases had
an article clerk, somebody training to
be a solicitor, who was playing snooker in a snooker
hall in Dorking, in Surrey. And the chap on the
next table said to him, you’re a solicitor, aren’t you? To which he
untruthfully said yes. And he said, my dad’s
in a bit of trouble. Do you think you can
possibly help him? To which he said, yeah, all
right, what’s he charged with? He said genocide. So that brought the game
to a fairly rapid end. And it wasn’t long after that
Szymon Serafinowicz rolled up in my office. And just reading from
the book, “Serafinowicz was the Belorussian
police commander in the small town of Mir. He had somehow managed to
engineer himself a reason to be away from Mir on the day
the Einsatzgruppen massacred the town’s Jews. Though he would have been
responsible for deploying his officers, who were present. Instead, he was charged with
four counts of murdering Jews in 1941, during the
so-called mopping up operations conducted by
the Belorussian police on Nazi orders.” Now, just pausing there. What had happened
was, that the Nazis had put into place something
that was unbelievably called the Final Solution. And the Final
Solution was a plan to murder every Jew
in Eastern Europe. And that was to be achieved by
having the Einsatzgruppen, that was a specialist
squad of soldiers, move slowly from village to
village, from town to town, and literally round up all
the Jews, who then had already been confined in ghettos, and
were required to wear clothes with a yellow star on
for easy identification, march them out of the village
or town to an open space, where normally a pit had been
dug, herd them to the pit, and machine gun them. Get them all into the pit,
fill it in, and then move on to the next town or village. Now this horrifying, almost
unbelievable practice, was going on day,
after day, after day. And the Belorussian
local police force came into it in
the following way. Because word was getting
round to the Jews in the ghettos what
was going to happen. Some thought it was
just ludicrous rumors and couldn’t possibly be true. Others could see the way life
was going and believed it. And some would hide. We had witnesses in the case
who had taken the floorboards up of their house and
got the children and themselves under
the floorboards and got other people to
nail them down again. So that when they did
the sweep through, there was no sign of them. And then, obviously,
afterwards, they would break out and try to see
if they could survive the war. The role of the
Belorussian police was, that once the
Einsatzgruppen moved on to the next village, they were
given the task of mopping up, as it was called. In other words, any
Jew that was found who had survived
the first massacre would be shot by
the local police. And then thereby ensuring the
successful outcome, as they saw it, of the Final Solution. Inevitably, some
Jews did survive. One remarkably passed
himself off as a Gentile and worked in the
German cavalry stables for most of the
rest of the year. And when finally unmasked
as a Jew and put into a cell to await execution,
a German officer went and left the door open
to allow him to escape. Another found
refuge in a convent and spent the whole of
the remainder of the war in hiding in a convent. Many more went into
the woods and lived a terribly hard, primitive
life in the woods with partisans, who
were already there, who were primarily communists. And fought the
Germans from there. And a number of
them also survived. And these people
were still alive in the 1990s and
early 2000s and were able to come over
here to give evidence. But picking up on
Serafinowicz’s position. “Instead, he was charged with
four counts of murdering Jews in 1941, during the
so-called mopping up operations conducted by
the Belorussian police on Nazi orders. By the time the Nazi
death squads got to Mir, quite a number of
the town’s Jews, having got word of
the impending roundup, had fled into the forests or
hidden under the floorboards of their houses. As a result, quite a few
survived the massacre. When they later discarded
their yellow starred clothing, they believed they were
safe, because the Nazis had no way of knowing whether
they were Jewish or not. They were unaware
that the local police had been enlisted to
identify any Jews left after the massacre
and eliminate them. Amazingly, some lived
to tell the tale. Survivors remained
in the forests for three years, many joining
existing partisan groups of communist sympathizers
who’d escaped the Nazis, and some forming their
own partisan groups. Others concealed themselves
in the weave of ordinary life. One man, who was herded
to the death pits, toppled unscathed into the
pit as everyone around him was cut to shreds
by machine gun fire, and was covered in as
the pit was filled in. Later that night, he dug himself
out from under the dead bodies and survived the war.” It was a remarkable
case to be involved in. And provided a very
keen insight into what was it that made the police
participate in those mopping up operations. Serafinowicz himself
was called the commander of the local police force. In truth, he was little more
than the station sergeant. It was quite a small town. And he had ensured
that he was not in the town on the day of
the Einsatzgruppen massacre. And had made sure
that he was elsewhere, perhaps indicating a
desire to distance himself from that awful event. He certainly couldn’t stop it. And any attempt to stop
it would have had him shot without a doubt. In the aftermath,
the evidence was that he had participated in some
of the cleaning up operations, largely under
German supervision. And had gone out to villages
where locals were shot. The position was that
when the Nazis originally invaded Belarus, they were
looked upon by liberators, by many of the locals. Because before that, they had
been under Russian occupation. And they were an extremely
harsh occupying force. And had shot, and
had sent to work, labor camps, many of the
so-called intellectuals in the village. Doctors and people like
that, who for some reason were perceived to
be anti-communist, were all shipped off. So the original German invasion
was seen as a liberation. Views soon changed. They were out of the
frying pan into the fire. But those who had been
sympathetic to the communists were promptly shot by the
Nazis when they arrived. And going on in history, when
the Russians then re-invaded, anybody who’d been
sympathetic to the Nazis was then shot by the Russians. So if ever there was
a time to be neutral, it was undoubtedly then. And one is– with
Serafinowicz, in a case, where he was a perfectly
ordinary police sergeant who before the war was
busy investigating whether one farmer had stolen
some chickens from another one, and who had managed to
butcher so-and-so’s cow. And that was the extent really
of his role in the community. There was never any
question that he had any anti-Semite beliefs
or anything like that. He was just an
ordinary policeman. When the Germans
invaded, had he not complied with their directions,
he would undoubtedly have been shot. So in a way, faced with that
awful dilemma, what he did was to follow orders and to
ensure that at least some of those who were Jews who had
survived the original massacre were, in fact, executed. But it’s an illustration. And the first today of
somebody who would never have committed any
crime at all in his life were it not for
the circumstances in which fate placed him in. And I don’t think
anybody can actually say how we would have acted
in those circumstances. Because we’ve never been
put in those circumstances. It’s easy now to say,
well, I, of course, would never have done it. They could have shot me,
but I wouldn’t have done it. But can anybody here actually
imagine the sort of questions that people like him had
to address an answer? Of course, when he
was arrested here, we were then put in the
position of investigating crimes that had happened
nearly 50 years before. And so much of the facts
of what had happened had become part
of local folklore, being told and retold
a thousand times. And how much was a
reflection of those stories? And how much was
actually genuine memory? It was difficult to ascertain. But I certainly had
to cross-examine an elderly pensioner
on the basis that when he was 13 years
old, looking out of a window, he might have been
mistaken as to who he had seen parading seven
Jews to what was ultimately their execution. And how reliable the memory
of a 13-year-old child was when he was then
an elderly pensioner is something I’m still
very unhappy about. Serafinowicz ended up in
England in a rather curious way. Because when the fortunes of
war turned and the Germans were in retreat from
the Russian front, it became perfectly
obvious to those in Belarus that the Russians would be
back sooner rather than later. Because they could see the
retreating army of Germany. And there is no doubt at
all that if the Germans had got into Mir and
Serafinowicz was still there, they’d have shot
him, because he would have been down as
a Nazi sympathizer, as indeed, they shot all the
other policemen who had not escaped. So by a circuitous route,
through Austria, and Hungary, and Italy, he managed to
get to the Allied front and joined the Italian army
that was then fighting. Although Mussolini was
originally on the other side, there was, in fact,
a brigade that was fighting with the Allies. And ended up fighting the
Germans in North Italy. And after that, he was
allowed to come here. And indeed, did come here, as
did many others, who could not, of course, have gone
back to Belorussia, to his home, because
he’d just have been shot. So he came here and
worked as a carpenter until he retired and had never
committed any criminal offense in this country at all. Thereby, perhaps demonstrating
that this is not somebody who, without the pressure,
the extraordinary predicament he was placed in, would
have ever offended. He, sadly, never stood trial. I say sadly because
I think there was a reasonable chance he would
have been found not guilty. Because he had done
quite a lot to mitigate the local population
against the Nazis. And had negotiated
with them for people to be saved who were due
to be executed and so on. And when I went to
Belarus, I found a woman who still prayed for
him every day for saving the life of her husband. He, sadly, developed Alzheimer’s
before the case could be heard, and was found unfit to stand
trial, and died very shortly afterwards. And that caused a slight change
in approach by the prosecution. Because they had picked him out
of the potential war criminals because they felt he was
in a position of command. And they didn’t want to just
go for a private in the army and prosecute him. They wanted somebody who was
in a position of command, to make the process
worthwhile in their eyes. And I can see the logic of that. Of course, by the time
the case was over, it dawned on them that anybody
in a position of command was likely to be in their 90s. And as likely as
not, there would be the same problem with health
as they had with Serafinowicz. So the next chap
they tried was a chap called Anthony
Sawoniuk, who was known as “Andrusha the Bastard.” And that is, indeed, the
title of the chapter about him in the book. And he was called
that because that is how he was known in
his village in Belarus. He was from an extremely poor
family with no father, hence the name. And his mother made a
pittance of a living doing washing for other
families in the village. They had no land. So unlike many
others, they were not able to scratch a
living from the soil. He had been badly
bullied at school. And when the Germans invaded,
he was then, I think, 17 years old. And when they asked
for volunteers to join the police
force, he volunteered. He’d never had any
employment before. And it must have
seemed to him that this was a golden opportunity
to improve his lifestyle. For the first time in his
life, he was given a purpose. He was given a salary. And he was given a gun. And he became a very
officious policeman, that much was clear, getting
his own back on all the people who’d been bullying
him for years. And became very
unpopular in the village. And here, I’m afraid, did
take, so it would appear, to the task of rounding
up any surviving Jew from the massacre in his
village with a great deal more enthusiasm
than Serafinowicz. But I mean, I think
that perhaps reflected on somebody who was
very much influenced by the propaganda of the time. He was not an
intelligent man at all. Serafinowicz was perfectly
intelligent individual. He was, I’m afraid,
rather stupid. And was eventually
convicted of two counts of murder following
his trial and sentenced to prison for life. But rather like Serafinowicz,
he had lived here working, in fact, for the London
Underground, ever since 1946, until his retirement. Never committed any offense. Never been shoplifting, never
punched anyone on the nose. Never done anything at all,
or anything before the war. But again, circumstance
had involved him in participating in cold-blooded
murder of surviving Jews in a way that was, when looked
at in any ordinary eyes, truly terrible. He took, with other policemen,
five Jewish prisoners into the woods
outside the village. Domaczewo was the
name of his village. And pressed a gun against
the skull of each of them and pulled the trigger. And it’s difficult to imagine a
more awful or cold-blooded way to execute people, particularly
bearing in mind that numbers two, three, four, and five,
of course, had seen what’s happened to those before them. So what he did, and it
was proved in the trial that he had done, although
he denied it in his trial, was really quite
unbelievable cruelty. Yet, he was a man who
had never committed any crime of any kind. And I venture to suggest that
both Serafinowicz and Sawoniuk, had there been no war would
have lived their entire lives entirely peacefully
without committing any offense of any kind. And the same thing really
happened in the Balkans War, which was a truly terrible
conflict involving, as it did, genocide on a pretty
terrifying scale. And I was instructed there to
do the appeal in the first war crimes prosecution in
an international setting since Nuremberg
in 1946, which was when the UN set up the court
for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. And the first person to be
defended there was a man called Dusko Tadic. And I went to see him. “I met Tadic in the
United Nations detention facility, which was
a jail within a jail, outside the Hague. I had to go through
a Dutch jail to get to the detention center,
where the security was provided by UN guards. It smelt of stale cabbage,
like all other prisons I have visited. But it was more peaceful
than a normal prison, with plenty of time for
visits when families could make the journey. The relaxed atmosphere was
fostered by the Irish governor, who had managed
to house prisoners on opposite sides of the
conflict without any animosity that I could detect. Tadic seemed to be
a gentle family man. Like Serafinowicz
and Sawoniuk, he was not a general or politician
who had ordered troops to engage in genocide
or ethnic cleansing, but a low-ranked
traffic policeman who had previously been a postman. Like many others who behaved
barbarously during the war, he had lived a perfectly
conventional life beforehand, exhibiting no signs of racial
prejudice or anti-Muslim sentiments. Once the war
started, however, he joined the Serbian
Paramilitary Force, which murdered Muslims in
cold blood solely because of their religion. Tadic had been convicted of
shooting two Muslim policemen in the head during an
operation of ethnic cleansing through the territory
of Prijedor in Bosnia. The Muslims in the
towns and villages visited by the
paramilitary force would have the men separated
from the women and children and taken away to
concentration camps. Frequently, though, the Muslims
would receive prior warnings that the paramilitaries
were on their way and would evacuate to
a safe place nearby. Two policemen who were
Muslims were still in the town when the gunmen arrived. They were detained in
the marketplace when Tadic was alleged to
have walked up to them, put a pistol to their
head, and fired. This was seen by one witness,
Nihad Seferovic, a Muslim who had escaped before the
paramilitaries arrived, but had returned to the village in
order to feed his pet pigeons.” Tadic’s conviction rested
on his evidence alone. And there again was a case
where a perfectly ordinary man, postman, then a
traffic policeman, had killed two men in
completely cold blood, having been caught up in a
war where the propaganda was pitching religion
against religion. And he had been living, as
indeed most of the people who I came across in the
Balkan conflicts, who had been charged with
war crimes, had been living, cheek by jowl with
peoples of other religions in perfect harmony
before the war began. And it’s quite
extraordinary to me just how people
were managed to be recruited to play such a
part in the genocide that went on there. After I did his case, I was
asked to defend another Bosnian Serb, called Goran
Jelisic, who had been convicted of war crimes. But, in fact,
acquitted of genocide. Who was in charge of one
of the concentration camps where he would, it would
appear for his own pleasure, torture and kill inmates
who were Muslims. He was a slightly
different individual and I suspect was
really a psychopath. He was a very cold and difficult
to reason with individual, as opposed to Tadic, who
had a delightful family who would come to visit him. Gave me a bottle of the
most disgusting plum vodka I’ve ever had in my life as
a Christmas present one year. Whereas, Jelisic was not such
an attractive individual. And then, finally, I acted for
another man, called Josipovic. I mean, just to reflect on
the allegations in his case, “I was instructed to act
in the appeal for Drago Josipovic, a Bosnian
Croat, convicted with four others of carrying
out a blood-curdling attack on Ahmici, a small
village in central Bosnia on the 16th of April 1993. More than 100 civilian Muslim
men, women, and children were killed in the assault,
which was part of a rampage by the Croatian military
police, known as “The Jokers,” through Muslim settlements
in the Lasva Valley. All 169 Muslim
houses in the village were destroyed, along
with two mosques. Not a single Croat
home was torched.” It’s an incident in that war
that has still to this day sent shock waves through
those who have read about it. As I say, more than 100 people
were shot or burnt alive in that massacre. And yet, he was a
perfectly charming man, who’d lived a perfectly
law-abiding life, up until the moment when
that conflict began. So reverting to the sort
of theme of the talk, why do people commit murder? I think it’s circumstance. Circumstance can put
you in a position whereby people act in a way that
they would never act otherwise. It can happen in a
domestic setting. It can happen as a result of
war and international conflict. But it’s not a crime that
is committed generally by criminals, in the
sense of people who’ve been in trouble throughout
their life with the police or anything like that. It’s a crime that
can be committed, and statistically is most
likely to be committed, by the person you love,
your neighbor, your partner, your parent, or your child. So just reflect
on that as we come to Christmas, which is
always statistically a high time for murder. Which is more business for me. I’m keeping an eye on the clock. Because I know you’ve all got
jobs to do this afternoon, and I haven’t. And there’s about
15 minutes left. So I’m very keen to
take some questions. I’ve focused just on one aspect
of my career and everything else. And I mean, there are,
in the book, of course, quite a lot of examples
of miscarriages of justice in a domestic setting. But I don’t think I’ve got time
to go into those in any detail now. So you’ll have to buy the
book, those of you who haven’t already got one, that is. But I’m very happy to
take any questions at all. Generally, not just about
what I’ve spoken about today, but about the profession
or anything else, if there are any. AUDIENCE: Hi, I
was just wondering what you think about the
rising popularity of true crime and whether programs
like “Making a Murderer,” or
podcasts like “Serial,” have been kind of useful
from a justice perspective, or actually detrimental,
in terms of everyone weighing in with their own not
necessarily informed opinion? WILLIAM CLEGG: I did
watch “Making a Murderer,” but I’m afraid I haven’t got
enough energy to see more than about the first two episodes. I thought it was a bit slow. But I think it’s very
difficult to actually equate that with a real life. I know it’s a true story. But it seemed so
far removed to me from what we would come across
as lawyers that I didn’t really find it either very interesting
or particularly helpful. So I don’t think that those sort
of programs really do any harm. But I really don’t
think they do any good. I think the programs
that do rather better are those that focus on a
case where there’s perhaps been a miscarriage of justice
and explore what went wrong and why. And we’ve seen cases about
Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, Colin Stagg. They’re doing one now
about the Jill Dando case and Barry George, that may
be broadcast early next year. I think those sort of
cases are probably better, because they focus
on a particular crime and analyze that in
a way that’s more like an investigative
bit of journalism than the sort of
“Making a Murderer,” that I just didn’t
like it very much. Did anyone else like it? Did people like it? Yeah, they did. No, no one liked it. The gentleman here I
know had a question. AUDIENCE: I just
wonder whether you think there should be some
statute of limitations for some of these crimes? WILLIAM CLEGG: Yes. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]
up to six years, but you know, someone
can remember something from 40 years ago. WILLIAM CLEGG: It’s
extremely difficult, a statute of limitation. Some countries do
have it, of course. I don’t think that the quality
of justice in the Second World War war crimes investigation
was terribly high. Because I think so much evidence
has been lost over the years. And my own personal view was
that was too little, too late. But I do find that in
some of these cases, where you have pedophile cases,
where people have only been able to come
forward after many years, to describe what happened to
them when they were children, it seems to me that those sort
of cases should be prosecuted, because the reason
they weren’t prosecuted before was because
the person accused had so terrified the victim
that they hadn’t got the ability really to complain before. So it is difficult. I mean, we’re dealing
with pedophile cases going back 40 years and more
in the courts at the moment. And it is one of the growth
areas for criminal justice. Not long ago, nearly a quarter
of cases in the Crown Court involved some sort of crime
of sexual– sexual crime of some sort, either
historic or current. Which was an amazing statistic
compared with 20 years ago. AUDIENCE: And over the
course of your career and the length of
your career, you must have seen a huge change in
both the use and sophistication of forensic evidence and that
type of DNA sampling and so on. I’d be fascinated to
hear your thoughts on the extent to which
it’s improved or changed the prosecution process. WILLIAM CLEGG: Well, DNA
has been a fantastic aid to criminal investigations. I mentioned briefly the
Rachel Nickell murder in 1974, I think it was. There, the man who had
really murdered her was a man called Robert Napper. Colin Stagg was undoubtedly
completely innocent. And it was only years later
when DNA profiling had developed to such an extent,
that for the first time they were able to analyze
a tiny DNA profile left on Rachel Nickell’s
body by the murderer, that they were able to
identify that profile as coming from Robert Napper, who
had, by that time, murdered another woman in very
similar circumstances. And that’s an
illustration, if you like, of that crime being solved,
where it would never have been solved otherwise, by DNA. Another case that’s in the book,
just by way of illustration, is a case of a man
called Mark Dallagher. He was a Rough Justice
case that I did. And he’d been convicted
because of his ear print. A woman was murdered
in Huddersfield during a burglary, a 96-year-old
widow, smothered by a pillow. And the police found
a perfect ear print on the outside
window of the house. And the theory was
that the burglar had put his ear to the window,
couldn’t hear anything, and had broken in. And a rather idiotic
policeman from Holland called van der Lugt,
if you believe it, had given evidence that
ear prints are unique. And it was
Dallagher’s ear print. Well, he was convicted of
murder on this daft evidence and spent about
eight years there before I got
involved in the case. The court of appeal
overturned the verdict on the basis of fresh evidence. And again, it was DNA
evidence that was not available at the time,
but available then, that managed to extract
a particle of DNA from the center of
that ear print, which proved conclusively
that whoever did it, it could not possibly
be Mark Dallagher. So there were two cases
where they’ve really made a big contribution. And I think now DNA is
more valuable to crime detection than fingerprints. It’s been a huge advance. And it’s enabled people
who’ve been acquitted of crimes that they
were guilty of years ago to be retried on fresh
evidence and justice to be done when evidence
that wasn’t there before, which must be good
for everybody. AUDIENCE: I just had
a question, presumably that some of the people that
you’ve been representing, you’ve faced intense press
scrutiny, or scrutiny from the court of
public opinion. I just wondered how
you dealt with that, because I’m sure people
have taken offense maybe to some of the people that
you’ve represented or defended. WILLIAM CLEGG:
Yes, the answer is that there has been a great
deal of press interest in a lot of cases that I’ve done. But I think, in a sense,
the barristers are slightly protected from it. And I’ve certainly never
had any personal criticism for defending in a case. One thing we’re always asked
is, how can you defend somebody who you know is guilty? And the answer to that question
is quite an easy one to give, but it requires a moment’s
reflection, really. We can’t defend anybody who
tells us that they are guilty. So if somebody comes to me and
says, look, I did kill him, but I want you to get me off. I say, well, I can’t defend you. You’ve either got to plead
guilty or go somewhere else. I can’t do it, because you’ve
told me you’ve done the crime. And that is an absolute rule. However, if there is strong
evidence against somebody, but they come to
me and say, look, I don’t know what the
evidence looks like, but I tell you I
didn’t do it, then we are not only able to defend
him, it’s professionally required that we do defend
him, because we have something called the cab rank rule, which
means rather like the taxi, we have to take the next
case that we are given, that we are able to
fit into our diary and is being paid at the
rate we normally charge. We cannot say, I don’t like
that case because it’s got a lot of evidence against
it, I think I’ll lose, or I don’t like the allegation,
or I won’t defend it because it’s involving a rape,
which I think is so awful, I won’t defend somebody. You have to take the next case. And that ensures that everybody,
however heinous the crime that they’ve been accused of,
will be defended by somebody. Because unless they are, you’ve
got no justice system at all. So it’s the cab rank rule. It also protects us. Because the answer
to anybody who says, well, I was asked to do the case
and under the cab rank rule, I’m not allowed to refuse it. So it gives us a
good get-out as well. After this, next. AUDIENCE: I’m just
wondering in your 47 years, we talk about access to
justice and we see, obviously, a lot of coverage in the media
around changes to legal aid and barristers taking
industrial action and so on. And I’m very curious to hear
your assessment of both access to and quality of justice,
and how that may have changed over the course of your career. WILLIAM CLEGG: Gosh,
how long have you got? Briefly, the Ministry of Justice
has suffered greater cuts by way of a percentage than any
other department of government. The cuts have been so deep
that court buildings are now dilapidated. You can go to courts in London
today, the lifts don’t work, the carpets are threadbare,
the lavatories are broken. The paint is peeling
from the walls. It is a complete disgrace. If you go, as I do sometimes,
to the third world, and go to their courts, they are
immaculately clean, spotless, and there is a pride
in the fact that they are able to have
such pristine courts. It has long been lost here. Judicial morale is
at an all-time low. They feel that they’re
not appreciated. They’re not given the rewards
that they are entitled to expect from their role. And the position in relation
to publicly funded work as a barrister is
now that the rewards are so low that it’s
beginning to impact on diversity in the profession. We have spent 40
years trying to ensure that people join the profession
from all walks of life. And that you can come in and
earn a living defending people accused of crime. We’re now rapidly approaching
the point that unless you’ve got a private income or
a partner who is a high earner, you just cannot afford to
be a publicly funded defense advocate. And I think that’s
a real tragedy. But I’m afraid to say
that is the truth. Barristers’ fees have
been cut by well over 50% in the last eight years,
which is extraordinary. Imagine what would happen if
they’d done that to nurses. I mean, it doesn’t
bear thinking about. You had a question. AUDIENCE: Yes, several
[INAUDIBLE] ones. WILLIAM CLEGG: Don’t worry. AUDIENCE: You speak
quite a lot about murder, and all the kinds of
different cases there, but do you cover
all criminal cases? WILLIAM CLEGG: Yes. AUDIENCE: And if so, is there
a particular case or crime that you enjoy defending–
enjoy may not be the right word. WILLIAM CLEGG: Yes, I
think there probably is. I mean, what I’ve actually
done most of in recent years is not murder at all. What I’ve done most
of is to defend in commercial criminal
fraud trials, normally with an international
perspective. So for example, the last
two big trials I’ve done was to defend the
managing director of a huge multinational
engineering company called Alstom for alleged
corruption in India over the building of the
Paris Metro and in Warsaw over the construction of
the tram system there. And that’s the sort of
case that I do mostly. And I find that much more
interesting in a way. It’s a great challenge to
understand the industry. Before that, I
defended people who were setting the LIBOR rate
for Barclays Bank, I mean, the LIBOR. So those are the sort
of things I do mostly. And they don’t make for a
good book, particularly. But there is one in there about
a fraud case involving a mining company in North America, in
Montana, involving the Butte Mining Company. But, yes, that’s
what I do mostly. I haven’t done a
murder case for years and probably never
do another one. But that was where I
learned my skills, as it were, doing general crime. AUDIENCE: I have a
pretty loud voice, but what made you
pursue criminal law over the other disciplines
when you started out? WILLIAM CLEGG: Oh, I always
wanted to be a criminal– I think it was watching
“Perry Mason” on the telly. I used to watch it every week. And he never lost a case. Sadly, it doesn’t
transfer into real life. But what always attracted
me, more than anything else, was the oral
advocacy, and you do more of that in
a criminal court, with a criminal practice, than
any other area of the law. And I also found it fascinating. And I still do. I mean, there are
plenty of barristers who do different types of law. But for me, I was
always set on crime. And I don’t regret it. HOST: Great, well,
thank you very much. [INAUDIBLE] William Clegg. [APPLAUSE]

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