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Whose Justice?

Stephen Sedley, 23 September 1993

The Report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice 
HMSO, 261 pp., £21.50, July 1993, 0 10 122632 2Show More
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... and forty in the first three-quarters of this century. But from 1977 until the release of the Birmingham Six in 1991, not one royal commission was appointed. It had become the proclaimed task of government to govern, not to appoint bodies to agonise about what should be done. In a lecture I gave in 1988 I found myself speculating that this magnificent ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... a barn owl with a mouse in its beak, caught by Eric Hosking in 1948, a brown rat photographed by Stephen Dalton as it jumped from a bin in 1983. Curiosity about the look of exotic tribes was not limited to pictures from abroad. The four performers of the Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance, taken by Benjamin Stone in 1899, stare at the camera as grimly as Papuan ...
Talking Blues: The Police in their Own Words 
by Roger Graef.
Collins Harvill, 512 pp., £15, May 1989, 0 00 272436 7
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... up while protesting about the death of another man, Colin Roach, in a police station; £48,699 to Stephen Dowsett and Philip Tape who were walking home from a dance a little drunk when they were bundled into a police van, taken to a police station and so terribly beaten that Dowsett’s jaw had to be re-set in two places; £17,500 to Manit Schemir, a ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover, 22 February 2001

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... renationalise the railways if the Tories privatised them, and promised, for instance, that the Birmingham relief road would be built ‘only over my dead body’, now, as Huff and Puff John, presiding over the privatised railways during their most disastrous period since before nationalisation fifty years ago – as well as giving the go-ahead for the ...


Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... which it took place. To account for it, Mrs Tynan had to go back to the beginning: to the indulged Birmingham schoolboy who was always to maintain that he really was born on his first day at Oxford. The time to which Ken Tynan bore a symbolic relation was the quarter-century following the Second World War, during which the generation of grammar-school children ...

The smallest details speak the loudest

John Upton: The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, 1 July 1999

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 
by Sir William Macpherson.
Stationery Office, 335 pp., £26, February 1999, 0 10 142622 4
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The Case of Stephen Lawrence 
by Brian Cathcart.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 670 88604 1
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... There are now two Stephen Lawrences. The first, the murdered 18-year-old victim of racism. The second, a cultural balloon with Stephen Lawrence’s image on it: a balloon so large there is barely any space left in which to think objectively about Lawrence, his murder and the subsequent investigations and Inquiry ...

Who didn’t kill Carl Bridgewater?

Stephen Sedley, 9 October 1986

Murder at the Farm: Who killed Carl Bridgewater? 
by Paul Foot.
Sidgwick, 273 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 283 99165 8
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... are now in doubt – Hanratty (an earlier subject of Paul Foot), the Guildford bombers, the Birmingham pub bombers – there is an evident link between the gravity of the crime and the risk of a miscarriage of justice. Foot chronicles the frustration of the Police as time went by and no worthwhile clue to the identity of the killer or killers emerged ...

Saint John Henry

Richard Altick, 5 August 1982

John Henry Newman: His Life and Work 
by Brian Martin.
Chatto, 160 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 7011 2588 8
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Protestant versus Catholic in Mid-Victorian England 
by Walter Arnstein.
Missouri, 271 pp., £14, June 1982, 9780826203540
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... and Diaries,’ a series of volumes scrupulously and learnedly edited by the late Father Charles Stephen Dessain and others. But the imputation is unfair to the best modern biographer of Newman, Meriol Trevor, whose two-volume work (1962-63) also had the advantage of the extensive archives at the Birmingham Oratory, even ...

Just Good Friends

Caroline Moorehead, 2 February 1984

The Brotherhood: The Secret World of the Freemasons 
by Stephen Knight.
Granada, 325 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 246 12164 5
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The Calvi Affair: Death of a Banker 
by Larry Gurwin.
Macmillan, 249 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 333 35321 8
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... classes have provided the society’s main support ever since the period of consolidation. Stephen Knight’s The Brotherhood is a natural successor to an earlier work on Jack the Ripper, in which Knight set out to show how the five prostitutes murdered in the East End of London in 1888 were the victims of an insane Freemason who inflicted on their ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... manager to the rank of outside broadcast producer, he spent his early years, in London and then in Birmingham, producing anything and everything: from seaside summer shows and circuses to race meetings and general election counts, from Muffin the Mule to the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral. Rejecting a good financial offer to move to ITV in 1955, he ...


Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... me, by which time my train is in. 25 January. Having spoken at Norwich I trek across England to Birmingham to speak there, never more conscious of Larkin’s strictures about going round the country pretending to be oneself. It’s a beautiful morning, the flat fields made dramatic and Dutch by floods and huge skies, but the whole journey ruined by two ...

Fancy Dress

Peter Campbell: Millais, Burne-Jones and Leighton, 15 April 1999

Millais: Portraits 
by Peter Funnell and Malcolm Warner.
National Portrait Gallery, 224 pp., £35, February 1999, 1 85514 255 4
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John Everett Millais 
by G.H. Fleming.
Constable, 318 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 09 478560 0
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Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer 
by Stephen Wildman and John Christian.
Abrams, 360 pp., £48, October 1998, 0 8109 6522 4
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Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity 
edited by Tim Barringer and Elizabeth Prettejohn.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, March 1999, 0 300 07937 0
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... Rossetti, in dreams of fair women and melancholy men. The big exhibition which was in New York and Birmingham, and is in Paris until June, is comprehensive. The first thing that strikes you is his tremendous skill as an organiser of elements on a flat surface. Filling a space – a tapestry, a book illustration or a stained-glass window – with figures seems ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: A Leninist version of Soviet history, 1 September 2005

The Soviet Century 
by Moshe Lewin, edited by Gregory Elliott.
Verso, 416 pp., £25, February 2005, 1 84467 016 3
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... he moved to England as a research professor at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies in Birmingham. Lewin’s international reputation as a Soviet historian was made in the Birmingham years, but his status as a guru for the Marxist wing of Soviet historical ‘revisionism’ came mainly after his relocation to the ...

Faculty at War

Tom Paulin, 17 June 1982

Re-Reading English 
edited by Peter Widdowson.
Methuen, 246 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 416 31150 4
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Against Criticism 
by Iain McGilchrist.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 571 11922 0
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... his influence that good critical prose is now dismissed as ‘bellelettrism’ (see, for example, Stephen Trombley’s dismally representative approach in his study of Virginia Woolf). For many years, the Cambridge stress on the private spirit – practical criticism is an example – helped to energise the study of literature and most critics would admit to ...

Barriers of Silliness

J.I.M. Stewart, 1 July 1982

The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations 
by Julian Symons.
Orbis, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 85613 362 0
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Critical Observations 
by Julian Symons.
Faber, 213 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 571 11688 4
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As I walked down New Grub Street: Memories of a Writing Life 
by Walter Allen.
Heinemann, 276 pp., £8.95, November 1981, 0 434 01829 5
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... himself. Then came the Second World War and a sudden upsurge in reputation, with Maurice Bowra, Stephen Spender, John Piper, Kenneth Clark, John Lehmann and others going hysterical about her: a kind of trendy Stringalong situation, we are invited to judge. Then by 1954 it is all over and the balloon deflated for good. Can my dislike of this piece – a ...

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