Category Archives: charity


Steps to Statues-a Walk In Progress

For March 2021 I have accepted the “Walk All Over Cancer” challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day and fundraise for cancer research -you can sponsor me here! But I am also looking at statues-here’s why:

During #Lockdown last year, in an attempt to stay healthy and sane I accepted a steps challenge from work and tried to do a daily walk as a break from working at home. As walking without purpose is a bit dull, I visited statues – a result of my current obsession arising from the fact that I am jointly charged with commissioning one for the Jack Leslie Campaign.

On average I managed less than 10k steps a day, so this new challenge is upping the distance, if not the pace. In this blog I share pictures of some of the statues I have visited. Although I had seen many of these before, each on closer inspection or research had something of interest -I hope you agree. I will be adding more photos of statues as I find them-it’s a work in progress 😎



I love this statue, outside St Thomas’ hospital London! When I last visited, it was with Matt (pictured) co-founder of the Jack Leslie Campaign. It’s shocking to realise this is probably the first statue in Britain of a named black woman. There was opposition to the statue’s location, and even to the statue being commissioned – including by the Nightingale Society. But here she is, tall, proud, striding forward and facing Parliament across the river!

Mary Seacole statue, bronze, 2016, Martin Jennings


Also outside St Guys and St Thomas’ hospital:

Cross the Divide, Rick Kirby, 2000

THE SPRIGGAN (Parkland Walk, North London

This cheeky chap is found on the Parkland Walk, N19, a linear nature trail that runs from Finsbury Park to Highgate.

A Spriggan is mythical creature from Cornwall, and this delightful sculpture was put up in 1995 by Marilyn Collins (read more here)


What are you thinking?

Elthorne Park is my local park, it’s urban, and has within it a peace garden (see note 1 below ) and a football pitch where I once tackled Johann Cruyff-but that’s another story! It also has this mysterious and rather wonderful piece pictured above -I’m trying to find out more about it! Let me know if you have any info.

SIDNEY WATERLOW, Waterlow Park (Highgate)

Statue in Waterlow Park, N19-from his vantage point there’s an amazing view over London

Waterlow (1822 – 1906) was an English philanthropist and Liberal Party politician, as well as Lord Mayor of London, principally remembered for donating Waterlow Park to the public as “a garden for the gardenless”. The statue was constructed by Frank Taubamn, and shows Waterlow holding a hat, umbrella and key. From a gap in the railings on the Southern part of Waterlow Park you can peek into Highgate cemetery and see a bust of Marx (see below). Within the park is Lauderdale house-2 small statuettes by steps


This statue, by Maggie Hamblin was unveiled this month in Newington Green

This statue, which I visited with my KN colleague Emily Elliott (2) has created some controversy! It was, like the Jack Leslie statue, crowdfunded after an admirable fundraising campaign. But the work has divided opinion, particularly in the use of nudity for an icon to feminism. The statue follows soon after the first female statue (and the first by a woman) to grace Parliament Square  – suffrage campaigner (and Wollstonecraft fan) Millicent Garratt Fawcett, I decided to visit that at the weekend , for comparison (see day 6 below)

HIGHGATE CEMETERY (various statuary)

Large bronze bust,1956 by Laurence Bradshaw on rectangular plan marble pedestal inscribed “Workers of all lands unite/Karl Marx

Highgate Cemetery (3) is an amazing place- a nature reserve, Containing Victorian catacombs and of course plenty of statuary. It is maintained by a conservation “friends” group The best statues and history are on the West side (worth booking for a tour) but the most visited is that of Karl Marx on the East. With the cemetery closed to visitors when I started this challenge, I took the above photo from Waterlow Park (see day 3 above) through a gap in the railings. (The cemetery has since re-opened -here are some of the Highgate Cemetery “menagerie” -including Wombwell’s Lion (note 3 below)

The dog lies at the tomb of bare-knuckle prizefighter Thomas SAYERS


There are numerous statues in Parliament Square, many of which are relatively recent additions, including Millicent Fawcett:

She wears a walking suit,[3] typical attire  of the time,featuring an overcoat and a long dress.[4] The artist integrated the pattern and texture of the tweed fabric into the bronze of the suit

Its an amazing statue. The names and images of 55 women and four men who supported women’s suffrage appear on the plinth (see detail above) It was made in 2018 by Gillian Wearing, following a campaign and petition by the activist Caroline Criado Perez. (Read more about the statue campaign and the rival campaign for a Pankhurst statue here.)

More Statues from Parliament Square:

Statues in Parliament Square- these guys should need no introduction


In nearby Victoria Gardens is a copy (one of 12) of Rodin’s “Burghers of Calais”. Calais commissioned Rodin to create the sculpture which was completed in 1889 (this London version unveiled 19 July 1915)


“Victory” by B. McKennal

A very high proportion of public monuments consists of war memorials of various types. To what extent they may be considered art may be the subject of some debate, but like most statues there will have been a commissioning process. The “Boer War” was the first to be significantly commemorated across the UK (not least in the amount of football stadia erected in early 20th Century with stands named after battle of Spion Kop)

The memorial at Highbury has faced calls to come down. My own view is that an information plaque should be added to provide context. The statue itself is by Bertram Mackennal, and to my mind a fine public sculpture in it’s own right. I also visited the Finsbury War Memorial, also called “Victory” on Spa Green (Thomas Rudge, erected 1921)

Neighbours” (Highbury Quadrant estate, Islington )

“The Neighbours ”, Siegfried Charoux, 1957

Public art, on a housing estate! (Highbury Quadrant estate, Islington) A Figurative sculpture by Charoux for the LCC on the recommendation of the Arts Council. Cemented iron, four feet high. Two figures, realistic, yet demonstrating an idealism of ‘working man‘. A “strong and humane representation that well suits its setting” (English Heritage) Read more here

Footballers, Emirates Stadium (Highbury)

Thierry Henry

There are very few BAME statues in London, let alone the UK, and there would be even less if we disregarded footballers (Note 4) Henry is one of five statues of Arsenal legends at Arsenal’s stadium. The statues are unattributed.

A list of football statues (very few BAME) is on wiki here (but not complete). There is an ongoing crowdfunded campaign for a statue of Jack Leslie (the first black footballer to be selected for England in 1925) -donate here

More Arsenal: Bergkamp left (with my son) and Adams right

Oliver TAMBO (Haringey)

This statue (erected 2019) of ANC leader Oliver Tambo is in Albert Rd Park, Haringey

Tambo lived in Haringey when exiled from South Africa. Read more here– (article includes a photo of the statue which shows him originally holding a copy of the Freedom Charter, now missing!)

Dick Whittington’s cat, Archway

Hard to photograph, secure behind Iron railings, here is the famous cat!

The statue of a cat was added in 1964 to the 1821 monumental Whittington stone” at the foot of Highgate Hill. It marks roughly where a forlorn Dick Whittington, returning home in despair from the city of London , turns back after hearing Bow Bells ringing out “Turn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London!” The cat sculpture is by Jonathan Kenworthy, in polished-black Kellymount limestone. 

The Cockerel, Primary school, Hornsey Lane

Metal cockerel sculpture, designed by John Willats in 1957, outside Primary School on Hornsey Lane, N19. paid for privately by the school’s architect, H.T. Cadbury-Brown.

The cockerel is of course not a statue, but is a much-loved landmark outside what was Ashmount primary school. Both my sons attended this school so it was a daily view! Ashmount has relocated, and it’s sad to see that it’s replacement school on the site has let the cockerel badly deteriorate-I’ve written to them about this!

Statues in Trafalgar Square

Like most of us, I have been to Trafalgar Square many times without paying any heed to the statues on the 4 plinths (even when I paid attention and very much enjoyed the temporary installations on the “4th plinth” I would have struggled to tell you who the other three were). So this time I had a good look:

The 4 plinths at Trafalgar Square, see Note 4 below for detail

Of course the unmissable statue is Nelson, carved from Craigleith sandstone by sculptor Edward Hodges Baily. The story of the statues and famous column could be a whole blog, but you may as well just go to this summary wiki. (See note 3 below for the Landseer Lions which surround the column)

The 5.5-metre (18 ft 1 in) statue at the top was sculpted by Edward Hodges Baily R.A. 

The fluted column is built from solid blocks of granite from the Foggintor quarries on Dartmoor, familiar to me from my Devon upbringing.

Wellington monument, Hyde Park

I love this colossal statue of Ulysses, dedicated to Wellington and cast from melted-down cannon captured at Waterloo. The monument was funded by donations from British women totalling £10,000.

inaugurated on 18 June 1822, by sculptor Richard Westmacott,

The sculpture was originally nude and caused controversy (see also Wollstonecraft 2020, above). This came from prudish Victorians, but allegedly also from the Duke who thought his manhood rendered too small. Either way, a fig-leaf was added! More on the monument here
Below: more statuary and monuments in Hyde park, including bottom left the July 7th memorial

I hope to be adding more statues to this blog as I find them, please feel free to check back if you would like to see more, or contact me if you can suggest more statues or monuments to visit.


1 The Peace Garden is named after Philip Noel-Baker, who was professor of law and a labour MP. He was also involved with establishing both the League of Nations after the First World War, and the United Nations after the Second World War. Maybe he should have a statue!

2 Emily Elliott is an Associate in the KN Crim. Lit. department, specialising in all areas of financial and business crimegeneral crimeinternational crime and internal investigations.

Emily, me and Mary W.

3 Highgate Cemetery One of the best monuments on the West side is that of George Wombwell, the Victorian who ran a travelling circus with a troop of lions-a statue of one now adorns his burial plot.

(Read more about Wombwell’s life and monument here)

There is a link from Wombwell to the lions at the foot of Nelson’s Column– Landseer had planned to use one of Wombwells deceased lions to model, but was delayed through ill-health, so by the time he got the animal it was partly decomposed! (In fact the whole commissioning was mired in controversy!)

More like a sphinx than a lion?! 🦁
Mark bust, on East side of Highgate Cemetery.

4 BAME football statues

Volunteering in the time of Coronavirus

My employers at Kingsley Napley have a strong ethos within the firm of supporting fundraising and volunteering and have continued helping charities and the local community during the COVID-19 crisis (see here for detail). My role as an advocate has understandably been affected by the CRISIS, given the lack of hearings taken place, as was my planned Easter break, so with permission of the firm I took some time out to do some volunteering. How did I get on?

1 NHS “responder” volunteer


Like so many others I signed up as a volunteer “responder” to help, if and when I could, those in need during the coronavirus #COVID19 crisis.
The app looks great! I tested the alarm-sounds like an air-raid warning! And waited…

..and waited. I completed my “profile”. I went out and acquired a mask, hand-gel, gloves. I have no symptoms or underlying health conditions. I am DBS checked. I have a car, a bike, live near a hospital, and flexible working hours. 300 hours passed…The app is clever in that you enable the maps so they can pinpoint your location and match you to somebody nearby in need. I live in Central London, and there is plenty in that category! And still I waited…AND THEN… it finally happened! The alerts sounded! 👏

I was cycling at the time (as permitted exercise) and nearly fell off my bike! 🚲 I pulled over, and accepted the call. Details followed…

And then I looked at the address, and the postcode was LS12 …that’s in LEEDS! 😳
I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Leeds. I studied at Leeds Uni and was sad when our annual reunion last month was cancelled due to #COVID19.
But travel 🚂 to Leeds to answer this call would hardly be lockdown compliant!

2 Food bank

Since #coronavirus closed the schools, my 16 year old son (GCSEs cancelled) has been doing some volunteering. So I joined him for a day at the foodbank at “brickworks” Community Centre, Hanley Crouch. To our surprise, Jeremy Corbyn was also volunteering there!

The surprising thing was that Corbyn stayed for the full 3 hour session at the food bank. We sorted food🥖 packed bags, distributed, did all the mundane stuff that goes on- running a food-bank isn’t glamorous. And then he left.

3 Other volunteering

I am grateful to have the opportunity to help out with a local mentoring charity of which I am a trustee -“Bridging the Gap Islington” -which KN have also supported, including a recent grant that allowed us to enable mentors to meet those they are helping “virtually” , and holding our trustee meeting by zoom.

I’ve also been working on the Jack Leslie Campaign – to recognise the achievements of a legendary footballer who 100 years ago should have been the first black footballer to play for England. The aims and objectives:

1 To raise the funding for a statue of Jack Leslie in Plymouth, where he played as a professional footballer for Plymouth Argyle. 

2 To promote the story of Jack Leslie, the first black footballer to be selected for England way back in 1925, and to use Jack’s story positively to combat racism in football, supporting the aims of the “Kick It Out” campaign. 

4 Pro-bono work

The COVID-19 crisis and the government response and regulations has created a number of challenges for all of us, and injustices for a few. We all understood that funerals had to limit the number of mourners, but Islington Council closed their cemetery (a vast site) to all, including those who used it for their daily walk and to visit loved ones. I was contacted by a grieving parent whose 17 year old son had recently died in tragic circumstances, and was now unable to undertake her visits to tend to his resting place. This interruption to the grieving process was highly traumatic, and I helped take up the case, as reported here , eventually (with the help of Cllr Caroline Russell) persuading the Council to allow the cemetery to reopen with new social distancing measures in place.

I also challenging the bizarre decision of the Council to close fruit and veg stalls, rather than assisting traders to managing social distancing in selling their wares. This time I was able to deploy the assistance of the local MP – having raised the issue with him at the food-bank (see above)


The much-flaunted Responder App was a disappointment and remains so, and appears to have been deployed as part of the Government’s media strategy deploying “we are all in this together” war-time rhetoric. I did enjoy however having the chance to do some voluntary work locally. I have to be honest- it was good for me personally, as I like to keep busy and was struggling to adapt to “lock-down” and having no work. But it also good to help out the incredible voluntary sector, a part of a diverse community that feels like a family, and where others far more worthy than me give their time commitment and resources regularly. It was a humbling experience.

London Legal Walk 2017

Monday 22 May  was the London  Legal Walk – with over 8,000 lawyers walking 10k to raise money for London Legal Support Trust.
The LLST  is an independent charity that raises funds for free legal advice services in London and the South East.
I entered as part of the Bullivant Law team- and we all finished!

Please sponsor the team! Our fundraising link is here:-

Thank you!

Check out my walking playlist here

Below- at the start with Judge Rinder


Below-a well earned drink at the finish



Mentoring in Islington – ” Bridging the Gap”

For several years, a small group in Islington called “Bridging the Gap” have been arranging mentoring partnerships in Islington. I am proud to be one of the trustees (Details of our trustees here:

In 2015 we became a registered charity and launched our website Please check us out , and share news of what we do to interested parties.

Bridging the Gap Islington is looking for:-
-mentors (we provide the training)
-sponsors  (people, local businesses or companies interested in being a patron, sponsor or partner)
-volunteers (to help with fundraising)

-funding! We welcome contributions toward our work. (All our mentors and trustees are volunteers, but we have some admin costs and cover mentor’s travel costs)

Donate via this link

I have been involved in many mentoring projects over the years, but I am really excited that at last in Islington we have a partnership that brings together people in need of help and guidance and those willing to provide it. Please spread the word!


1 Bridging the Gap Islington is an Islington based charity, formed in 2012, that provides a mentoring service by providing trained volunteer mentors, and linking them with people in need of help and support.

2 Objects
The objects of the Charity are: –

-The prevention of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders by offering offenders, ex-offenders and people at risk of offending advice, guidance and support, including to address their needs and promote their integration into the wider law-abiding community.

-Working together with other organisations with similar aims particularly but not exclusively by providing a voluntary mentoring service for people at risk of offending.

3 Bridging the Gap Islington is a Membership organisation – because we believe that helping vulnerable people and people at risk of offending is a community responsibility. We welcome new members! To find out more and to join email Josie Osei at

2 The following are trustees:-
Mick Holloway
Maddy Robinson
Jonathan Joels
Robin Latimer
Greg Foxsmith

(Details of our trustees here )

We welcome new trustees, and if you are interested in joining the Bridging the Gap steering group, please contact Robin Latimer –

4 Website:

5 Appeal

1 Bridging the Gap Islington is looking for:-
-sponsors (in particular local businesses or companies that may want to be an official sponsor)
-a Patron
– volunteers to help with fundraising

If interested in any of the above please contact Robin Latimer at

We also welcome contributions toward our mentoring work! All our mentors and trustees are volunteers. Donate online through the donation page of our website here or contact


1 Founding member and trustee Robin Latimer :  “Bridging the Gap Islington provides a unique opportunity for local people to help many people in our community who are excluded by a competitive and bureaucratic society. Anybody can benefit from talking about their plans and friendly encouragement to put plans into practice. As well as welcoming prospective mentors, we are also looking for ways to make contact with people who need help.”

2 Islington Councillor Joe Calouri:  “It’s fantastic to have Bridging the Gap working in the Borough with some of our most vulnerable residents. Well trained mentors can provide the kind of trusted relationship that can help create real change for vulnerable people.”

3 Greg Foxsmith: “I have been involved in many mentoring projects over the years, but I am really excited that at last in Islington we have a partnership that brings together people in need of help and guidance and those willing to provide it”


Hornsey YMCA and the Crouch End Festival

My son Daniel (9) ran a mile at this year’s Crouch End festival to raise funds for North London YMCA.  All the money raised goes directly to their work and services, not fundraisers, bureaucrats or charity directors. Their work is community based, and includes outreach work, youth work, housing and finance advice.
In 2014 we raised £150 and we hit that target again last year


It’s not too late to help by sponsoring Daniel now-thank you!

Running Playlist here

Below-Daniel and Adam from a previous year’s effort


Below:- end of 10k!

KICKING OFF for the Hundred Families Charity (Guest blog by Len Hodkin)

The 2nd floor at the Central Criminal Court will forever have a special place in my heart and for those of you who know me, no, I am not referring to the café. It is home to a unique group of people, who in my opinion, are more important, more significant than any Judge, prosecutor or defence counsel who attends the Old Bailey. You will have all seen them. They are there every day and they go about their business quietly and largely unnoticed but the court could not operate without them.

I refer to Linda Harlow and her amazing team of volunteers from the Witness Service. These unsung heroes support not only the victim’s families but prosecution and defence witnesses alike in addition to children and vulnerable witnesses.

 I had heard of the Witness Service and had some dealings with them across the various Courts I had attended across London but was largely ignorant as to what they actually did. I thought it was simply a case of escorting a witness to and from the Court to give evidence. How wrong I was.

 In 2012 my family and I spent four and a half weeks at the Old Bailey for trial of the woman who killed my mum Sally. It is not an experience I would ever wish to repeat yet strangely enough, I do look back upon those four and a half weeks with immense fondness. I witnessed first hand the volunteers from the Witness Service at work. I saw them share the burden of victims and witnesses grief and trauma. I saw them offer comfort and support to those in their darkest hour. A service all delivered with a smile and an unwavering passion for what they do. A service very much undervalued and overlooked by many but most importantly a service which is free. A Safe Haven.

 It was a privilege to see these amazing folk at work. My family and I cannot thank them enough for how we were treated and looked after and we are no different to the hundreds of families, witnesses and children who come through the doors at the Old Bailey each year.

 Each year since my mum’s death we have held a memorial football match at Welling United Football Club. Read media coverage of last year’s event HERE) To date we have raised over 35k for charitable causes. In 2013 we donated a substantial amount to the Witness Service along with the family of Elouise Littlewood to help renovate the witness rooms at the Old Bailey. Now the waiting area and rooms are almost unrecognisable to those that were there in 2012. 




However, the job is not quite finished…

 This years Charity game will be held at Welling United on 7 May with a 3pm kick off. We are raising money for the Witness Service at the Old Bailey and a Charity called Hundred Families of which I am a Trustee.

 Hundred families:

 Hundred Families is a small charity that receives no Government funding. We provide practical support, information, and advocacy services throughout Britain for families who have lost loved ones as a result of killings by people with mental illness. We work with the Criminal Justice System and the Health Service to secure meaningful improvements for victims’ families and the way in which they are treated. We provide research, training and evidence based resources to mental health professionals and policy makers to try and prevent such killings from happening in future. This year we produced a Practical Guide for families after mental health homicide. This guide is available to download free from our website or free in hard copy upon request.

 If anyone would like to come along to the Football match on Saturday 7 May 2016 please feel free. Everyone is welcome and it is a good family day out. There is also a raffle held after the game. If anyone would like to advertise in the programme, buy raffle tickets or simply make a donation please contact me at or you can donate by text. For example to buy 5 raffle tickets just text HUND43 £5 to 70070just text HUND43 £5 to 70070 

To donate to the Witness Service or ensure your donation is made available specifically for the benefit of witnesses and bereaved families at the Central Criminal Court please

• make a cheque payable to Citizens Advice and send it to:

Citizens Advice Witness Service, Central Criminal Court,  Old Bailey ,  London EC4M 7EH

Send the cheque with a covering letter stating you wish the donation to be allocated specifically for use by the Witness Service at the Central criminal Court, the Old Bailey and the funds will then be allocated for their use only.

Finally, next time you are at the Old Bailey and you find yourself on the 2nd floor about to go into the café spare a thought for the amazing unsung heroes right next door.
Len Hodkin  Len Hodkin is a solicitor at GT Stewart Solicitors, and Trustee for Hundred Families Charity.

In Memory of Sally Hodkin

Sally Hodkin worked as the accounts manager for a solicitors practice in Blackheath. She was wife to Paul Hodkin for 38 years, Mum to two sons Len and Ian, and a loving grandmother.







Highbury Court Advice Centre-One Year On!

A Local court-based advice and support service celebrated its first year at Highbury Magistrates Court this month.
North London advice and support service, Community Advice based at Highbury Magistrates Court has been providing practical help and access to long term support to those who attend court.

Based inside the court, the service in its first year has helped over 600 people from Islington, Haringey, Camden and Enfield. It has assisted court users with accessing long-term support services such as alcohol treatment, housing, mental health services or providing immediate help with practical issues such as outstanding fines and benefit claims.

The service is aimed especially at those who are not eligible for probation support due to the level of their offences such as theft, vandalism, drunk and disorderly conduct, but appear in court again and again absorbing a considerable amount of the criminal justice system’s resources.

A paid coordinator and a team of volunteers at the service help identify and tackle the underlying problems that contribute to people’s offending such as housing needs, debt issues, and drug and alcohol misuse.

The service has made hundreds of referrals into wider community services ensuring those who come to court can continue to receive the support they need once they leave the building. In its first year, the clients attended three quarters of all the referrals made for them and two-thirds reported their issues had been resolved six months on.

Set up by the Centre for Justice Innovation, the service is supported by local magistrates and court service and is delivered by Islington Citizens Advice. For more info, check out this short film!

Joanne Thomas, Innovative Practice Manager at the Centre for Justice Innovation said: “Community Advice is an invaluable resource as it is addressing significant unmet needs of people who are coming to court. There are early, positive signs that it is helping people who would have had no other recourse to resolve their issues.” (See also this blog by Joanne)


• The Centre for Justice Innovation is a UK justice research and development charity. It works to build a justice system that holds people accountable, that is fair and feels fair, and which seeks to address the problems of those people who come into contact with it. It is an initiative of the Center for Court Innovation, based in New York.

• A reception event to mark the anniversary was held on March 9th in Islington Town Hall. My contribution:-

Anyone practicing in criminal law is aware that the vast majority of defendants have any one (or more) of a number of complex issues or difficult challenges , which often underpin or contribute to their offending, but which the Criminal Justice System does not address. These issues can include mental health issues, drug addiction, homelessness, welfare benefit issues, domestic violence, exploitation, pressure by gang members, unemployment, depression, and more. 

In some cases limited help provided comes from the probation service, but gone are the days when there was a probation “service” whose role was to “befriend the prisoner” and instead we have a fragmented, part-privatised, underfunded system whose main purpose is to punish, and, where there is a subsidiary component of help, it comes with sanctions for “non-compliance”. 

Leaving the offender to seek their own help, we have also seen a steady diminution of help and advice services , both Centrally and by Local Authorities, and a particularly brutal reduction in services since LASPO.

Solicitors cannot plug this gap-as a result of year on year Legal Aid cuts we barely have time to take meaningful instructions on cases to present a proper defence for a desirory fixed fee within an adverserial system. In earlier years a High Street Practice would offer a holistic service, with solicitors advising on employment law, benefits advice etc, now that rearely exists.

About 10 years ago I began mentoring ex-offenders, which I continue to do, and I have been amazed at the paucity of mentoring available compared to the potential demand, and the willingness of people to give up their time. My mentoring campaign led, accidentally, into politics, and indeed into this Town Hall where I was an elected Councillor from 2006-2014.

I never managed to establish an Islington mentoring service, but I have at least now seen the birth of an Islington mentoring project, BRIDGING THE GAP ISLINGTON.

Mentoring, which is time-intensive, essentially is signposting or referring clients to the right experts who can provide help with specific issues. “If only”, I sometimes mused, “there was a service where the people needing help and the volunteers who can provide it could be gathered together in one place”. It was no more than a pipe-dream.

So now I turn to the Highbury Court Advice Service.  The service that shows me that dreams can come true!

I was aware there was some kind of pilot project in Plymouth, (my home City!)

I was aware of the excellent work of the Centre for Justice Innovation.

And I was very aware of Highbury Corner Magistrates , my Local Court.

But never would I have believed that somehow these threads would be drawn together to create this outstanding service.

The first time I saw it in action, I spotted somebody gliding across the waiting area, friendly, welcoming, introducing themselves to clients. Naturally I thought it was one of the infamous solicitor-touts that proliferate at Highbury Court, trying to poach clients from other solicitors (fighting for scraps at the beggars banquet)

You cannot imagine my delight when I realised that instead this was a volunteer from the Advice Service, offering help and advice. On subsequent visits I introduced myself to the team, and gradually met more of the volunteers. I referred my clients to them. I visited the CJI for a seminar. I blogged about the Service. I am, in short, unambiguously a fan.

I tell everybody I can about this Service, and was glad to see Mr Gove visited. I hope he was impressed.

So well done, and thank you to the visionaries who developed the concept, the volunteers who deliver and all those who support it.

And I ask of you all one thing, support this scheme, and shout about this service from the roof-tops.

We need to ensure that it survives, and that it is rolled out across London and hopefully Nationally.

I look forward to the 10 year anniversary celebration! 


(A version of this speech appears on the CJI website here)

Modern Slavery Act – a synopsis (Guest Blog by Ben Ticehurst)

The following is a guest blog by solicitor Ben Ticehurst of  E.M.M. Solicitors  

The Modern Slavery Act 2015


The Modern Slavery Bill received Royal Assent on the 26th March 2015. Following the announcement of Royal Assent, Unicef Director David Bull said:

The passing of the Modern Slavery Bill into law is an historic moment in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. Unicef UK is proud that the UK has committed to stamping out these horrific crimes and, in particular, to protecting vulnerable children.

Why the need for new legislation?

The Global Slavery Index 2014 reported that over 35 million people are trapped in slavery across the world today. Modern slavery takes multiple forms including forced labour and human trafficking, and is found across the economic sphere in domestic servitude, the sex trade, on farms, building sites and in factories. Many are working in terrible conditions for extremely long hours, for little or no pay, and are vulnerable to verbal and physical abuse.

The National Crime Agency suggests that the number of victims of trafficking in the UK rose by 22 per cent from 2012 to 2013 and these numbers are continually on the rise globally as well.

In the UK, around 60% of children rescued from trafficking have gone missing from social services. Those working as foreign domestic workers on a tied visa (about 15,000 each year), meaning that they are tied to one employer for the duration of their stay, are unable to leave their houses unaccompanied or find alternative jobs to escape abusive employers without becoming criminalised. 

Until now, there were three pieces of legislation on slavery and trafficking that are scattered, impractical and therefore difficult to use. As a result, there were only 8 convictions of human trafficking in the UK in 2011. There have been calls for the law was to be on the side of victims of slavery and trafficking and so the new Modern Slavery Bill, has been hugely welcomed as it is pivotal to ensuring victims of abuse are found, cared for and receive justice for crimes committed against them.

A Home Office spokesperson recently said the bill was 

an historic opportunity to get legislation on the statute books that will , for the very first time, address slavery and trafficking in the 21st Century”

Summary of the Act

The Modern Slavery Act brings together current offences of trafficking and slavery, introduces tougher sentences (up to a maximum of life imprisonment) for traffickers, and creates an independent anti-slavery commissioner, likely to be a former police officer. It contains provisions for seizing traffickers’ assets and allows for confiscation proceedings (section 7) under the Proceeds of Crime act 2002 (POCA 2002). It also allows for the channelling of traffickers money towards victims, by way of compensation payments (section 9).

It is hoped the Act will provide greater protection for victims and improve the prospects for prosecuting perpetrators

The Act includes provision to defend those that have been forced to commit crimes as victims of slavery or exploitation (section 45). This includes a defence for child victims against prosecution for crimes committed directly as a consequence of their trafficking.

The provisions to protect children are continued in that Section 48 creates ‘Child Trafficking Advocates’ who will support and represent any child that has been the victim of human trafficking. The Act also sets out a ‘presumption about age’ (section 51) which means that where is it unclear as to the age of the victim and they could be under 18 years of age then they will be treated as under 18 until it is know otherwise.

The Act will also make a development in relation to corporate responsibility and accountability in an attempt to improve transparency in supply chains (section 54). This will require companies to make a statement detailing the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place within the company or supply chains, or that no such actions have been taken. This step follows the USA, Brazil and Australia who have already made efforts to address modern slavery in supply chains.


There have ben some criticisms of the Bill in that it concentrates on enforcement and prosecution of traffickers as opposed to focusing more on victim protection.

Former conservative MP Anthony Steen has said: 

the prime minister said he wants to drive slavery out of Britain; I am convinced he is committed to doing something about it, but you are not going to catch traffickers unless you have evidence, and you are not going to have any evidence unless you support the victims. The reason why we have so few convictions in Britain is that police scare the living daylights out of victims.”

Barrister Parosha Chandran has commented that the section of the bill that deals with transparency in supply chains does not extend to wholly owned subsidiaries of UK companies abroad. 

She has stated that 

“…the modern slavery bill represents a huge step forward in the development of corporate accountability. Yet we will never really begin to tackle modern slavery unless we ensure that the supply chains of all our companies, whether doing business in the UK or overseas, are not tainted by trafficking, exploitation or abuse.

Andrew Wallis, chief executive of Unseen, a charity that works with the survivors of trafficking and modern slavery, was more inclined to be positive. 

Whilst no legislation is ever perfect it must now be matched by a concerted and collaborative effort to put the provisions of this law into full effect”.

“Many have contributed to the process of drafting this legislation and we have arrived at an

Act that the UK can and should be proud of. There is and always will be more to be done

but it was crucial that this legislation reached the statute books before this parliament ended

so that we have a good foundation upon which to build.”

Unrepresented Defendants (guest blog by Penelope Gibbs)

This blog is by Penelope Gibbs of TRANSFORM JUSTICE

Transform Justice was set up in 2012 by Penelope Gibbs, a former magistrate who had worked (successfully) to reduce child and youth imprisonment in the UK. The charity aims to help create a better justice system in the UK.

Please complete the survey at end of article, and forward to other practitioners
The mysterious increase in defendants without lawyers in the criminal courts 
People are slightly mystified why numbers of unrepresented litigants in the criminal courts seem to be rising.  Everyone expects numbers to rise steeply if the government succeeds in bringing in proposed changes to the way legal aid lawyers are paid.  Then there are likely to be legal aid deserts where no solicitor is willing to work for legal aid rates. But numbers have already started to rise according to a survey from the Magistrates’ Association (  This suggested one in five of those in 1st listed bail, “Narey”, courts were unrepresented, as were 14% of those on bail hearings, 23% of those being sentenced and 22% of those in criminal trials.  If scaled up countrywide, these would represent thousands of defendants.  No-one knows why these defendants are unrepresented since the criteria for legal aid have not changed for several years. Some people may be ineligible for legal aid either because their crime is serious enough, or because they do not meet the, quite low, means test. But Transform Justice is looking for more information about those struggling to defend themselves in the criminal courts. If you are a criminal solicitor or barrister, or someone who works in the courts in another capacity, please fill in this short survey