Who? Yasmin Aslam, principal solicitor at AGI Criminal Solicitors, Manchester.
Why is she in the news? Representing Phillip Harkins, who is wanted in Florida for murder during an attempted robbery in 1999, and has taken his appeal against extradition to the European Court of Human Rights. He has been on remand for 14 years and is presently housed in HMP Belmarsh. He denies being present at the robbery.
He challenges his extradition to the US on the basis that the imposition of life without parole in Florida would be a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case was heard at the Grand Chamber on 11 January. Judgment has been reserved.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This case has been the longest extradition case in the UK. Recently, there have been several landmark judgments from the ECtHR which have ruled that whole life sentences without any chance of release violate article 3. We are now using these to argue that the UK should not extradite Phillip.
‘If we are successful there will be far-reaching ramifications for all of Europe, the UK and the US.’
Dealing with the media: ‘It has been a bit of a whirlwind.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘A mother with her young child aged 10 walked into a local law centre in the 1980s, to see a solicitor free of charge. The child saw a man with no shoes walking down the stairs – and looked at him in awe. Unbeknown to her, he was the solicitor. That man was down to earth and he put them at ease, giving the mother the advice she needed. The child decided that this was what she wanted to do when she was older – and here I am.’
Career high: ‘Getting the case of Harkins v UK to the Grand Chamber and being present at the hearing. In another case, I successfully argued as the advocate for the defence in the Crown court for a dismissal of serious charges. Also, where my opponent was a QC, I successfully argued against a prosecution bill of indictment.’
Career low: ‘When I first became a solicitor-advocate, Mr Justice Gilbart, who was then recorder of Manchester, gave me a lecture in open court on the elements of the offence of handling stolen goods. It has made me a better lawyer and I appreciate the detail that needs to go into the work we do.’