Who? Angus Westgarth, 61, criminal law practitioner at his own Sunderland firm Westgarths.

Why is he in the news? Acted for a man accused along with his wife of the theft of food from a skip at the rear of a Tesco supermarket. The food had been discarded because it was past its sell-by date.

Paul Barker, 39, and Kerry Barker, 29, were seen on CCTV taking out-of-date groceries because, they said, they had no source of income and were hungry. Paul Barker had been forced to leave his job as a scaffolder after breaking his back in a fall.

District Judge Roger Elsey, sitting at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, dismissed the charge. He said: ‘How are they expected to live? It seems to me that the appropriate punishment for taking food that is of no value is an absolute discharge. I clearly cannot make any financial order.’

A Tesco spokesman said: ‘It is not safe to take food from bins and that is why we work with charities to redistribute surplus food that is safe to eat to people who need it.’

Thoughts on the case: ‘Why did the state in its wisdom decide to prosecute? There was clearly no public interest in pursuing a couple who had no money and whose children, as a consequence, were being looked after by the grandparents. There was no damage, nobody was hurt – and all because of foodstuffs that had been thrown away.’

Dealing with the media: ‘There was huge interest from the media, but I fear that I was so busy with this and other cases that I never really engaged with it.’

Why become a lawyer? ‘I wanted to be a voice for less fortunate people and to stand between the state and individual citizens.’

Career high: ‘Being instructed to act for fellow lawyers and achieving a successful outcome in a case of great importance to the profession.’

Career low: ‘Austerity measures, cuts to public funding and not being valued by the Ministry of Justice.’