Bar Council slams BBC drama; writer responds

Bar Council slams BBC drama; writer respondsA row has broken out between the Bar Council and a television writer over the BBC courtroom drama, Criminal Justice.

The five-part serial, aired on BBC1 this week, shows the story of a man falsely accused and imprisoned on murder charges.

Bar Council chairman Timothy Dutton said it failed to portray the professional obligations defence barristers are under and shows the Bar to be compromising its high ethical standards.

Dutton was particularly upset about a scene which shows a QC encouraging his client to provide a false defence in court.

“Naturally some licence needs to be taken for dramatic purposes. But Criminal Justice goes too far,” he said.

“Criminal justice is not a game and it is a travesty to suggest that practitioners see it in that way.”

The objection has prompted the series writer, Peter Moffat, himself a former barrister, to come out fighting in defence of the programme.

In an open letter Moffat rejected the Council’s criticisms and insisted: “It is absolutely common practice for defendants to be prodded towards giving instruction which suit the best available defence.

“We have an adversarial system. By definition, we are not after the truth in any criminal trial.”