Who? Alison Mafham, 45, criminal defence partner at Manchester firm Richard Silver.
Why is she in the news? Represented a teenager who repeatedly punched his seven-months-pregnant girlfriend in the stomach, causing her to miscarry and the unborn child to die.
Dusan Bako, 18, from Oldham, became angry when his girlfriend turned off her telephone and could not answer his calls. He dragged her from her home’s front door to a nearby park, where he was seen by several witnesses attacking her. He admitted grievous bodily harm (GBH) at Manchester Crown Court and was sentenced to four years and eight months in a young offender institution.
Mafham said: ‘He could not be convicted of murdering or assaulting an unborn child because such a child is not a person recognised in law. The only relevant law is the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. The prosecution failed to prove that he had deliberately caused the death of the unborn child and so he was prosecuted on the lesser charge of GBH against his girlfriend.’
Thoughts on the case: ‘This case was bound to be emotional because it involved the death of a helpless unborn child. The mother-to-be, herself a teenager, had the horror of watching her unborn child die on the scanner. Very few people have been prosecuted under the 1929 act, which clearly needs to be reviewed and the loophole closed.’
Dealing with the media: ‘I had to keep correcting inaccurate reports about what happened in court.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I always wanted to be an advocate. I used to watch lots of TV court dramas. I’m also a firm believer in justice.’
Career high: ‘A complicated health and safety case where a fatality occurred in the workplace.’
Career low: ‘During my training contract I had put in a great deal of work briefing a QC in a murder case. His first words to me were: “Be a sweetie and go and get my Archbold [the definitive book on criminal law].”’