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John Mortimer: triumphing over adversity

17 February 2009

We all, hopefully, are inspired by somebody at some stage in our lives. I doubt that I am alone in identifying John Mortimer as one of a handful of people who have inspired me at a certain time in my life. By the time I went to university I had already devoured many of the Rumpole stories, watched their faithful adaptation on television, and then read John Mortimer’s autobiography “Clinging to the Wreckage”.

What resonated was the sense of the heroic. Sometimes I think that Rumpole and his creator have done far more for instilling and preserving in a generation the sense that the rule of law is – if at times slightly ridiculous, at times slightly bad-tempered – a valuable thing that is under semi-permanent attack by governments of any political colour, and must be defended with rigour, passion and humour.

As any advocate knows, it is possible to laugh a case out of court (if it is the right one); it is also possible to shame a government or executive by satire...

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