Feeling My Age

Getting older has its drawbacks – but it's a lot better than the alternative.

Rudy Narayan

July 28, 2013 Feeling My Age

Rudy Narayan

Back in the late 70s – or maybe early 80s – I was called to do jury service at the Old Bailey, no less. The case concerned an altercation at a London ‘Blues’ party – so nothing too grisly. The defendants and witnesses were almost all black, the jury was almost all white. The whole experience was a a valuable insight into other people’s lives: the witnesses and my fellow jurors were nearly all from backgrounds quite unlike my own. Also it was fascinating to see the way our legal system actually worked at the coalface.

A barrister representing one of the three defendants made a deep impression on me. His arguments cut straight to the crux of the case: that we could only reasonably convict his client if we believed the testimony of one particularly flaky witness whom everyone referred to as Brooksy. In cross-examination he forensically picked through and shredded the inconsistencies in the man’s testimony, and sat down with a cuert “no further questions” after extracting one final, blatantly obvious lie from the witness. “It’s Brooksy or nothing” he stressed in his closing speech to the jury. His client was acquitted – the other two were found guilty.

That barrister was Rudy Narayan who went on to become famous as an anti-racist campaigner, and to found the Society Of Black Lawyers. Tragically, according to Wikipedia, alcohol subsequently deprived him of his livelihood and, eventually, his life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Narayan

Blue Plaque for Rudy Narayan


  1. Merrick on July 28, 2013 1:07 pm

    So often those who try to make a big change, to not only excel in their field but improve the field itself, pay a heavy personal price.

    One thing in your phrasing; “got off” has connotations of getting away with something, it implies the accused was guilty really instead of being genuinely innocent.

  2. feelingmyage on July 28, 2013 1:45 pm

    Good point Merrick – a crucial distinction: copy duly amended. It’s amazing that Rudy Narayan was able to break into the closed shop of The Bar in the first place on sheer talent alone back in 1965. It’s certainly clear from Wikipedia that his constant refusal to toe the establishment line exacted a heavy price on his career and unavoidably – as you say – on his personal life.

    There’s a rally outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday afternoon to protest against the scrapping of Legal Aid – without which most of Mr Narayan’s clients would not have had a hope of justice.

    Rally for Legal Aid

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