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Fake Law summary

The Secret Barrister

The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies

4.7 (32 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Fake Law by The Secret Barrister exposes how the legal system in the UK doesn't always deliver justice for all. It reveals how misplaced trust in the law can lead to grave injustices.

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    Fake Law
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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Fake law tells us that homeowners defending themselves are treated like criminals.

    If an Englishman’s home is his castle, these days it may seem he no longer has the right to defend it. Consider the infamous case of Tony Martin, a farmer who was convicted of murder in 2000, for shooting dead an intruder who broke into his farmhouse in the middle of the night. Martin was described in the popular press as a hero and a tragic example of how the law turns innocent homeowners into criminals.

    But, in reality, English law clearly states that you can defend yourself, your family, and your property against intruders.

    The key message here is: Fake law tells us that homeowners defending themselves are treated like criminals.

    Under English self-defense laws, even killing can be legally permissible as long your actions fulfill two vital criteria.

    First, you must have believed that using force was necessary to protect yourself from harm. Crucially, it doesn’t matter if you’re correct in this assumption, it only matters that you genuinely thought, at that moment, that your life was in danger. For instance, if you seriously injure a masked attacker who runs at you with a machete, and afterward realize that it was actually a children’s entertainer dressed as Winnie the Pooh, then you could still claim that you acted in self-defense.

    Second, your response must be proportionate to the threat you face. For example, if someone slaps you and your response is to shoot them, then you’d struggle to convince a jury that you acted reasonably.

    Convicted homeowner, Tony Martin, claimed that he suddenly came face to face with the home intruders, but the truth was far more sinister. Instead, Martin heard the intruders approaching his house. While they were still in his garden, Martin silently dressed, loaded his gun, and went downstairs. Then, he lay in wait until he was sure that the intruders had entered and couldn’t escape. Finally, he shot to kill.

    Rather than believing that he was defending himself and his property, Martin appointed himself judge, jury, and executioner that night, using deadly, and wholly disproportionate, force.

    So, he wasn’t convicted because the law is biased against homeowners, but because he failed to meet either of the vital criteria for self-defense.

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    What is Fake Law about?

    Fake Law (2020) examines the truth behind some of Britain’s most infamous crimes and criminal trials. Packed with insights into how the law really works, these blinks explore the disconnect between the reality of the justice system, and how it’s portrayed in the media.

    Best quote from Fake Law

    The rule of law requires that all of us – from Crown to citizens – be governed by and subject to the democratically created laws of the land.

    —The Secret Barrister
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    Who should read Fake Law?

    • True crime fans
    • Law students looking for a fresh perspective
    • Anyone interested in current affairs

    About the Author

    The Secret Barrister is the anonymous pen name of a successful barrister, whose mission is to demystify the law for the average citizen. Their writing has appeared in such publications as the Guardian, the Times, and Esquire, and their first book, The Secret Barrister, was a Sunday Times best seller.

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