Who? Anne Bellchambers, 54, solicitor-advocate and criminal defence partner at Torquay firm Bay Advocates.
Why is she in the news? Acted for a woman whose strong Liverpool accent led the police to interpret her plea for help as a confession to murder.
Bellchambers’ client, Teresa Rylands, 33, made a 999 call when her partner fell down the stairs and injured himself at their home in Newton Abbott, Devon. The operator who answered the call asked some questions, but Rylands, in her panic, answered in such a way that it seemed she had pushed her partner downstairs.
She was put on bail for seven months and also spent two months in jail before the police heard from an acoustic expert, who had used specialist equipment to analyse the tape of the telephone call, that she had actually said: ‘I don’t care if you say I pushed him down the stairs, just get someone in here.’
The judge at Exeter Crown Court ordered that she should be freed immediately.
Devon and Cornwall Police, which has yet to apologise to Rylands, said: ‘The content of the tape did not indicate that Teresa Rylands had committed any offence and there was insufficient evidence to support a realistic prospect of conviction.’
Thoughts on the case: ‘More cases like this will come about as the justice system continues to be deprived of resources. There will be no forensic expertise, fewer police on the ground and – with legal aid cuts – no experienced lawyers to act for people who cannot speak up for themselves.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I’ve had a strong sense of justice since I was a child. My eyesight was too poor for the police, so I decided I could do more from the other side.’
Career high: ‘My first appearance as a solicitor-advocate before the Court of Appeal.’
Career low: ‘As a junior advocate, I mistakenly called the male judge by my own name – Miss Bellchambers.’