A visit to the Turkish Baths is very much on the cards for one of this year’s Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival guest speakers.
Thomas Grant QC – whose latest book, Court Number One: The Old Bailey & The Criminal Trials That Made Modern Britain – will be heading to the popular tourist attraction after “taking the stand” on Saturday, October 19.
“My favourite aspect of Harrogate is the Turkish Baths. I absolutely love it. It will be my reward,” said the barrister who spent 18 months researching and writing his latest legal block buster, which earlier this year topped the London Evening Standard’s best sellers list.
“I write quite quickly, but because the subject is so exciting, the book really wrote itself. The Old Bailey is both a beacon of justice and injustice, and Court Number One is where all the important trials are held.
“It’s physically large, cold, dark, and the central part – including the dock, witness box, jury and lawyers’ benches – is set up like a castle’s keep. It is intimidating,” he said.
Following on from his previous book, Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories, (Hutchinson being Grant’s legal hero), he was invited to write legal vignettes for a play performed over four nights in Court Number One, something that would have been unheard of 20 years ago.
As well as writing for it, for the last four years Grant has also taken a leading a role in it, playing the role of Hutchinson in a scene taken from his famous 1982 case where he defended director Michael Bogdanov against a charge of gross indecency in the play The Romans in Britain.
“This case took place in Court Number One, and it was this vignette that led me to write this book. Beginning in 1907 and finishing in 2004, each chapter is devoted to one case each decade. The physical presence that runs throughout this book isn’t a being, but the courtroom itself.”