The Briefs

Thursday, 9 August 2012, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

With unprecedented access to Britain’s busiest legal aid practice, The Briefs takes us into the cut-throat world of criminal law.

Tonight, we experience the lawyers’ interesting marketing techniques, the case of a performance-poet accused of benefit fraud, a particularly emotive murder and a gay couple whose fights always seem to end up in a police station.

Franklin Sinclair, the partner who runs Tuckers’ Manchester office, is trying to attract business in unusual ways – umbrellas, beer mats, key rings and lighters, as well as DJing on a sponsored local radio show.

“There are less cases and more firms, or the same amount of firms, fighting for work. And you have to try to get a bit of a commercial advantage. If it doesn’t give us business, at least it creates jealousy amongst the other firms.”

Meanwhile, the firm has a new client – Tim – who was previously married but is now accused of fighting with his boyfriend in public.

“He hit me first ‘cos he thought I was flirting with another guy. Unfortunately I bit him in several places and he bit me. We both had quite a few injuries.”

Tim eventually gets a community service order. Later he appears in court a number of times, notably for damaging a restaurant window during another argument with his boyfriend. Franklin tells him he is surprised to see him again.

“I never thought you’d get involved with the justice system again and it was like I said to the court, it was like handbags at dawn, wasn’t it, your case?”

Tim is sentenced to six weeks in prison.

Part-time performance poet Gerard is accused of earning £14,000 on top of sickness benefits, which he denies. The Benefits Agency has also calculated that Gerard received £4,000 too much. He agrees to pay it back but is prosecuted for benefit fraud.

“I’m going to plead guilty. All I want is this to be over with. What I want to do is lie down on my couch and eat soup and talk to my friends about old times. That’s all I want to do ‘cos that’s what gets you better. Being dragged through court doesn’t make you better, it makes you worse.”

The court imposes a six-month community order on Gerard. He is also fined £250 and put on a four-week tag.

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