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Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories

CWA Daggers: Non-fiction, 2016

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781444799736

Price: £25

ON SALE: 4th June 2015

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General

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‘Thomas Grant has brought together Hutchinson’s greatest legal hits, producing a fascinating episodic cultural history of post-war Britain that chronicles the end of deference and secrecy, and the advent of a more permissive society . . . Grant brings out the essence of each case, and Hutchinson’s role, with clarity and wit’ Ben Macintyre, The Times

‘An excellent book . . . Grant recounts these trials in limpid prose which clarifies obscurities. A delicious flavouring of cool irony, which is so much more effective than hot indignation, covers his treatment of the small-mindedness and cheapness behind some prosecutions’ Richard Davenport-Hines, Guardian

Born in 1915 into the fringes of the Bloomsbury Group, Jeremy Hutchinson went on to become the greatest criminal barrister of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The cases of that period changed society for ever and Hutchinson’s role in them was second to none. In Case Histories, Jeremy Hutchinson’s most remarkable trials are examined, each one providing a fascinating look into Britain’s post-war social, political and cultural history.

Accessibly and entertainingly written, Case Histories provides a definitive account of Jeremy Hutchinson’s life and work. From the sex and spying scandals which contributed to Harold Macmillan’s resignation in 1963 and the subsequent fall of the Conservative government, to the fight against literary censorship through his defence of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Fanny Hill, Hutchinson was involved in many of the great trials of the period. He defended George Blake, Christine Keeler, Great Train robber Charlie Wilson, Kempton Bunton (the only man successfully to ‘steal’ a picture from the National Gallery), art ‘faker’ Tom Keating, and Howard Marks who, in a sensational defence, was acquitted of charges relating to the largest importation of cannabis in British history. He also prevented the suppression of Bernardo Bertolucci’s notorious film Last Tango in Paris and did battle with Mary Whitehouse when she prosecuted the director of the play Romans in Britain.

Above all else, Jeremy Hutchinson’s career, both at the bar and later as a member of the House of Lords, has been one devoted to the preservation of individual liberty and to resisting the incursions of an overbearing state. Case Histories provides entertaining, vivid and revealing insights into what was really going on in those celebrated courtroom dramas that defined an age, as well as painting a picture of a remarkable life.

To listen to Jeremy Hutchinson being interviewed by Helena Kennedy on BBC Radio 4’s A Law Unto Themselves, please follow the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d4cpv

You can also listen to him on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ddz8m

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Biographies of lawyers are very rare, but Hutchinson's career was so unusually varied that it makes a splendid subject for a book . . . [Grant's] book is clearly and elegantly written, turning Hutchinson's life into a satisfying moral history of 20th-century Britain
Literary Review
A fascinating look at Britain's post-war social, political and cultural history
[Jeremy Hutchinson] is my hero because of what he stands for today, as he continues to speak out against what he fears to be the loss of independent representation of those not merely down on their luck but down in the gutter. He is the living symbol of all that independent criminal advocacy means for justice and the rule of law
Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories . . . makes a compelling read, and is a real contribution to the history of twentieth-century English mentalities. It is also a first-rate lesson in simple humanity . . . The pungency, intelligence and humour of [Thomas] Grant and his subject make this the most enlivening of case-books . . . [Jeremy Hutchinson] is abundant in the qualities of empathy, consideration and humour. He manages to be both charming and shatteringly truthful
A fascinating episodic cultural history of postwar Britiain, that chronicles the end of the age of deference and secrecy, and the advent of a more permissive society . . . an impassioned defence of the criminal Bar itself . . . Grant brings out the essence of each case, and Hutchinson's role, with clarity and wit . . . a reminder of how many of the defining stories of modern times have been fought out through our courts, and changed by them
The Times
Given my automatic animus, you can imagine how confusing it was to be charmed into surrender by Thomas Grant's traversal of Hutchinson's long career as a QC
Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories reminds us of the celebrated, and infamous, cases in which Hutchinson appeared, the skills he deployed, and the importance of the criminal defence advocate to the rule of law. Reheated recollections of old cases rarely make for a tasty dish. But the ingredients of Hutchinson's casebook are exceptionally delicious, and Grant's recipe and presentation are irresistible . . . One of the merits of this entertaining collection of Jeremy Hutchinson's greatest hits is that the authentic sound of the great advocate can be heard again, loud and clear . . . Thomas Grant ensures that we understand Lord Hutchinson's achievements and the importance of the principles of criminal defence advocacy to a free society
David Pannick QC, The Times
Author and QC Thomas Grant does a fine job . . . Hutchinson's priceless advocacy is every bit as powerful on the page and Grant brilliantly recaptures the tensions and drama of some of the most seminal Old Bailey criminal trials of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties . . . It is hard to imagine a more interesting time for a criminal advocate to be working and this wonderful book is a celebration not just of the man but of the profession itself
Evening Standard
All these cases make thoroughly good reading, while vividly illuminating the morals and mores of that now distant period just a generation ago. But the sting in the tail of the book comes in the postscript by the centenarian Hutchinson himself . . . a powerful indictment of the wanton destruction by ignorant politicians of the whole edifice of British justice as he knew it
Financial Times
An attractive picture of a life honourably and enjoyably lived. Naturally, it supports the argument that we are a more civilised society today because of the battles which people like Hutchinson fought and won . . . So a happy century to Jeremy Hutchinson, who represented decency even when he defended indecency
Charles Moore, Sunday Telegraph
His life reads like a history of the 20th century . . . A resounding postscript written by Jeremy Hutchinson himself shows that at the age of 100, he has lost none of his extraordinary power and authority
Daily Mail
Hutchinson provides the memories and Grant puts pen to paper. The result is a multifaceted object: a celebration of a brilliant career, an explanation of the legal process and a social and cultural history of the second half of the 20th century . . . Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories is, above all, a romance
Daily Telegraph
A fine reminder of the great democratic values enshrined in our legal system . . . Grant has cleverly produced what amounts to a cultural history of Britain in the rapidly changing post-war years . . . a greatly entertaining read which celebrates a barrister who stood up and argued with clarity and passion for various freedoms that we now take for granted
Daily Express
Daily Mail
One of the most enjoyable books this summer is Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories, a biography by Thomas Grant of an extraordinary man
The Times
So began a career that would see Hutchinson, son of a renowned barrister, member of the artistic Bloomsbury set, prosecute and defend in some of the biggest criminal cases of the era, reshaping censorship and secrecy along the way, his life an extraordinary window into the 20th century
Brighton Argus
An excellent book charting some of Jeremy's more remarkable trials and his very eclectic clients, many of whom he cared for deeply
Daily Mail
Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories encapsulates the fascinating untold stories behind the cases defining issues of homosexuality, espionage, class and deference that dominated post-war Britain and Hutchinson's own passion for penal reform
You could tell a brief social history of Britain through the career of Jeremy Hutchinson
The Times
[Jeremy Hutchinson's] life and trials are admirably captured in Thomas Grant's accessible book
The Times
Jeremy Hutchinson was the greatest criminal barrister of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The cases of that period changed society for ever and Hutchinson's role in them was second to none. Here his most remarkable trials are examined, each one providing a fascinating look into Britain's post-war social, political and cultural history
A useful and highly entertaining potted history of a period when social deference and sexual prudery were on the way out. If one personal quality shines through this discreet and admiring book, it is Hutchinson's humanity and understanding of human frailty
Throughout a long career, [Jeremy Hutchinson's] brilliant and stylish advocacy achieved success in cases that looked unwinnable
Helena Kennedy
Jeremy was not just a good lawyer; he was fearless in standing up to judges. He was a most formidable advocate of the 1960s and '70s and he had a marvellous sense of mischief
Geoffrey Robertson
At first glance, you might wonder how interesting a book about a lawyer can be. But once you open the pages of this one, you'll be instantly hooked . . . Totally terrific
Daily Mail
A brilliant and absorbing book about the life of a barrister. And what a life
Evening Standard
Thomas Grant has brought together Hutchinson's greatest legal hits, and in the process has produced a fascinating episodic cultural history of postwar Britain, chronicling the end of the age of deference and the advent of a more permissive society. More than that, this book is also an impassioned defence of the criminal Bar itself, and the bulwark of democracy enshrined in the principle that every person accused of crime is entitled to independent representation
The Times
Not just a celebration of a brilliant legal career but also a history of changing mores in Britain
Daily Telegraph
A likeable account of a life in the law
Sunday Times
Thomas Grant uses Hutchinson's cases to chart the seismic shift in British culture between 1960 and 1984, during which time the barrister appeared for the defence in landmark prosecutions such as Last Tango in Paris and The Romans in Britain. That we enjoy such broad artistic freedom today is partly thanks to Hutchinson, and this fascinating book reminds us why
A staunch defender of civil liberties, he defended Lady Chatterley's Lover, Christine Keeler and Howard Marks among many more and his life opens a lively window on to Britain during the second half of the 20th century
Daily Express
This book makes a compelling read, and is a real contribution to the history of 20th-century English mentalities. It is also a first-rate lesson in simple humanity