Silk (Series 3, Episode 5)


Introduction – (1) That’s all folks!

Not tonight of course, but we were told this week that this series of Silk will be the last … So next week is the last one ever (although the clerks room will get its own Radio spin off).

This series has been a little bit, how shall we say, off the boil/implausible, at least amongst legal watchers. It seemed to have run out of steam a bit. Hopefully it will go out with a bang next week.

And if there is to be a spin-off, can’t we have one featuring Caroline Warwick?

Introduction – (2) Manufactured outrage from Tory MP 

This week we had the spectacle of Bob Neill (a former criminal barrister who should really know better and now MP) complaining to the Daily Mail that the BBC is full of Trotskyites a show about criminal lawyers show criminal lawyers behaving as criminal lawyers behave.

The offending part of last week’s show was as follows : “Barrister Caroline Warwick QC, played by Frances Barber, said: ‘I am sick and tired of being exhausted because there is no legal aid for juniors, which means I stay up all night every night working on complex trials only to be told I’m a fat cat by a government full of the fattest cats in the history of fatness.

We’re used to politicians spouting nonsense and making stuff up when it comes to the Criminal Justice System, but it’s a new development when MPs criticise TV shows for being accurate.

If you want to read a bit more about Bob Neill and his approach to evidence, here’s a good place to start.

But anyway, the show must go on …


Martha’s past comes back to, if not haunt then maybe taunt, her. Sean MacBride is seemingly an old friend, who has been charged with murder. He had a solicitor in the police station who he wasn’t happy with, so he (along with so many others) calls for Martha. Clive points out that this is a bit of a conflict of interest,but hey.

This being Silk, there are no other criminal silks around, and so it’s Caroline Warwick QC who gets the brief for the prosecution. She does a great job of stirring up Martha’s emotions, that have already been knocked off kilter by some revelations from Sean and their past lives.

Meanwhile, Phil Davies is playing a bent solicitor who is seeking to atone for his wrongs (or possibly just get a lower sentence) by shopping all his former clients. This appears to be setting up a plotline for next week.

In other news, Billy is in a philosophical mood – all bananas and God. It’s not a happy clerksroom as Amy Lang’s complaint against Billy comes to a head at the same time as she is applying for tenancy. Billy is up against it with the complaint and so he seeks the best representation – Martha. Martha delicately points out that that is really a conflict too far, even for the BBC.

She seems to have a change of heart though and decides to represent him. In another twist, Clive agrees to represent Amy and goes off to a boxing match with Billy to smooth things over. Somehow Clive ends up being Martha’s junior (this plotline has got a little bit silly).

Clive is off prosecuting a paedophile and he goes in hard for reasons which aren’t clear. In order to force a plea of guilty and get back to being Martha’s conscience he engages in some extremely unethical tactics with his opponent, before going off to help out ‘down the mags’ (going to the Magistrates’ Court to help cover a case). He obviously hasn’t been there for a while as neither he nor Caroline point out the obvious – a Magistrates’ Court can’t grant bail for murder. Luckily the District Judge didn’t grant bail, or that could have got very awkward.

After that, Clive has a quick butchers at Amy who does a very good speech in mitigation to get a Conditional Discharge for a dog stabber. Appropriately, she becomes Shoe Lane’s most junior tenant, so that’s one piece of the puzzle that is resolved now.


This was a bit of a return to form. The plots are still a little bit too far-fetched, but there were some great performances (I thought Jessica Henwick’s Amy was a particularly good portrayal of a pupil) and the various stories were woven together well.

This episode reminds of what Silk does best, and what we will be missing when it finished. See you next week …

Legal inconsistencies :

  • A barrister can actually represent close friends, but it’s not advisable generally. In a case such as this, it is very unlikely that Martha would be taking this case.
  • Prison visits are either in a (small) room, or a communal area (as happened in this case when Sean met Martha at the start), but if they are in a communal area, then there will be more than one conference going on.
  • Bob Neill is not going to be happy – it is pointed out that there is a fixed fee for a police station attendance by a solicitor. This is not completely true – in a limited number of cases, a lawyer can claim more if there are a series of interviews over a long time.
  • Don’t believe the Daily Mail – Micky Joy would not have a cell like he did.
  • Even a silk such as Clive would have to check with the CPS before accepting a plea of guilty.
  • And even in today’s climate a prosecutor would not be trying to persuade the Judge that there is no credit for a plea of guilty.
  • But in the real world the Clive wouldn’t be prosecuting such a case – it would be a junior
  • It’s not clear why the bail application for Sean McBride (for a murder near Heathrow) would be in Woolwich. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that it has transferred there.
  • If a case is listed solely for a bail application (as this appear to have been) then the defendant wouldn’t be likely to be produced at Court. If he was, Clive wouldn’t be having a conference with him in front of another defendant.
  • Having said that, the bail application is in a Magistrates’ Court which cannot grant bail for murder.


Further Reading

‘Supergrasses’ can get big discounts – this is covered by ss71-75 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

Amy would be advised to have a look here for advice on pupillage

This entry was posted in In the news on by .

About Dan Bunting

I'm a lawyer who works for myself. Legal geek, maths freak, general dullard and jack of all trades. Here’s a few views on law and occasional musings on life. Usual caveats about not relying on anything I say etc applies.

3 thoughts on “Silk (Series 3, Episode 5)

  1. Pingback: Legal Cheek » Morning round-up: Tuesday 25 March

  2. Pingback: Silk (Series 3, Episode 5) – The End | UK Criminal Law Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s