The case for the defence

High-profile defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths talks court rooms, advocacy, theatre, TV and the Charles Taylor war crimes case with James Falla.

Courtenay Griffiths admits he is a performer in the courtroom and one of the leading defence lawyer’s most famous cross-examinations was of supermodel Naomi Campbell in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 1280774. )
Courtenay Griffiths admits he is a performer in the courtroom and one of the leading defence lawyer’s most famous cross-examinations was of supermodel Naomi Campbell in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 1280774. )

High-profile defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths talks court rooms, advocacy, theatre, TV and the Charles Taylor war crimes case with James Falla.

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HE IS well known for defending terrorists, war criminals, IRA bombers and murderers – and resolutely stands up for their right for justice and a fair trial.

‘Our system of justice cannot operate unless there is a semblance of equality between prosecution and defence,’ Courtenay Griffiths QC told the BBC.

‘Otherwise it becomes an inquisition and that would soon lose the confidence of the public. It is right and proper that a defendant, however heinous the crime committed, has the right to the best representation.’

Mr Griffiths was in Guernsey for a short visit last week to speak to the Guernsey International Legal Association.

He popped into the Royal Court building – he was impressed – but less good news for the local courts is that he has our jurats in his sights.

‘Very suspicious’ was his retort to my question about the system. ‘My fear would be that, like judges, they can become “case hardened”,’ he said. ‘At the same time I understand the practicality of the island situation but it is not something I favour.’

  • James Falla's full interview with Courtenay Griffiths appears in today's Guernsey Press.