Nothing Like the Truth: The Trials and Tribulations of a Criminal Judge


Nigel Lithman QC


£9.99, Whitefox Publishing


The criminal bar is a place for great stories. We are brought up on them. We learn from them. We repeat them. But most barristers are not so good at writing them down. Nigel Lithman’s book is a rare exception of someone who is as funny in print as he is in the flesh. Coming from an exceptionally experienced and talented Queen’s Counsel and much-liked judge, this is an excellent read. The book is fast-paced and carries you from page to page in a way that makes it difficult to put down. It is as good as hearing Lithman himself recounting a whole series of stories and anecdotes and a collection of memorable one-liners with his trademark humour. 

Nothing Like The Truth

But this is much more than just a very funny book. It is about what happens to us, practitioners and judges, when facing ‘the darkest sides of the job’. As the author puts it, ‘if Jane Austen had been a judge, would she have said “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must have stolen it…”?’

It is a tribute to the author’s writing style that it works for veteran and novice, lawyer and layperson alike. It is direct, irreverent, shrewd and perceptive, bringing a whole generation of criminal law and lawyers to life. Lithman reminds us that someone is lying in most cases – usually on both sides. He tells of swapping proofs of evidence with an opponent who said ‘here are my lies in exchange for your lies’.

Just as clear as the rough and tumble of criminal lawyering, is his passionate belief in the value of the criminal justice system and his anger at the shabby way criminal lawyers have been treated in recent years; together with his strong conviction that our jury system is the best way to achieve justice in an imperfect world. Nothing like the Truth will entertain and inform any reader, particularly those who have been through it themselves or who might be thinking of becoming a criminal lawyer. With its unpretentious and direct approach, seasoned with enormous humour, this book also gives all of us pause for serious thought about the meaning of justice and fairness in our society.


David Etherington QC is a barrister at Red Lion Chambers, London