To Ambridge, the Radio 4 village which barely had time to digest Helen Titchener’s ‘not guilty’ verdict (attempted murder etc.) before turning to face the verdict of the legal community – which finds the devil is in the detail.
‘Just catching up with last night’s Archers. But Judge Loomis does not appear to have caught up with s73 CJC Act 2015,’ was the stern verdict of Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg on Twitter.
Legal eyebrows were also raised at the minimal role given to Helen’s solicitor compared with that of her barrister, to whom Helen opened up with key details in the nick of time.
Rodney Warren, former chair of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, advised Archers scriptwriters for 14 years. He told the press: ‘It’s been very unfortunate that the storyline has been developed in such a bar-centric way.’
A more nuanced view came from Kingsley Napley partner Sandra Paul, who has doggedly blogged on the legal side of the plot since Helen stabbed her husband: ‘The barrister takes instructions from both their lay and professional client.’
Chancery Lane appeared sanguine about the portrayal of the barrister/solicitor division, focusing instead on the impact that changes to the scope of legal aid would have on Helen’s representation at forthcoming child custody hearings.
Head of legal aid Richard Miller said: ‘We are currently in constructive discussions with the Ministry of Justice to amend the rules. We hope that the case of Rob and Helen will help to drive home just why current rules are problematic.’
Ever the sleuth, Obiter went looking for Helen’s possible real-life solicitor – using the Law Society’s ‘Find a Solicitor’ tool. In fact there is none in Cutnall Green, supposed model for the fictional village.
Widening the search, two firms pop up within five miles, though neither does criminal work. Perhaps it was best to leave it to the barrister after all.