Has someone ever asked you a question – a really important question – and then stared at you intently while you thought about your answer? It’s an uncomfortable feeling, isn’t it, their eyes locking hard onto yours? Instinctively you want to look away – but to do so may seem evasive. But staring right back at them seems almost impolite.

I have noticed this quite a lot over the years in my practice as a criminal lawyer. Let me situate you. We are in a courthouse, deep underground in the cells. My client is here, speaking to me from behind plate glass. We’ve had this conversation many times, but now it has taken on a vital importance – because, in five minutes’ time, he is about to be s...

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