Englishman's battle to untie hangman's knot

The horrors of death row are not usually part of maritime law. But Nabarro Nathanson's shipping litigation partner George Brown is a man who juggles both in his work.

As well as his normal practice, Brown takes up the legal cudgels for those in far corners of the Commonwealth where the hangman's noose is still a reality. He is currently waiting for the outcome of his latest case as the Privy Council ponders the fate of Andrew Moses on Trinidad's death row.

Moses was accused of the felonious murder of a crack dealer in 1985 and was given the death sentence in 1989. Although executions are not common in Trinidad, the threat of execution nevertheless is real.

Since his conviction Moses has been confined in a cell with no natural light and with an artificial light on for 24 hours a day. He has undergone searches three times a day and has only been permitted one hour's exercise five times a week.

Brown, along with counsel Sydney Kentridge QC and Martin Evans, have been fighting in Moses' corner in the Privy Council on a pro bono basis after being called in by the London Panel, which handles similar cases for those in no position to defend themselves.

The Privy Council's ruling in the case, which emphasises the gulf between the UK's sometimes maligned system of justice and that of some areas of the old British Empire, is hoped for by the end of July.

The argument on behalf of Moses is that he cannot be guilty of felonious murder; it is claimed the offence was abolished in Trinidad in 1979. If that argument succeeds, Moses should be acquitted.

But the Trinidadian authorities contend that the abolition was "purely procedural" and it seeks to uphold Moses' conviction and his sentence.