Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer

Michael Mansfield QC with Yvette Vanson

He's unique. A radical lawyer with an unparalleled commitment to his clients, driven by anger at injustice and hypocrisy; intelligent and dynamic - Michael Mansfield has been tearing down the citadels of arcane legal conventions for over forty years. Unafraid of rejection or failure, Michael has taken on the most high profile, difficult and challenging cases of our times and despite the odds, won plenty. In his Memoirs Michael dissects many of them, revealing his motivations, meticulous approach to forensic science, cross examination techniques, the often complex political dimensions and his emotional reactions to his work - with clarity, subtlety and charm. Interspersed with personal anecdotes and recollections, this insightful book is liberally laced with Michael's quirky brand of anarchic humour.

Michael Mansfield QC was born in 1941 and educated at Highgate School and Keele University. Called to the Bar in 1967, he established his Chambers in 1984 and became Queen's Counsel in 1989. He has represented defendants in some of the most controversial legal cases the country has seen, particularly where issues of civil liberties have arisen. He is President and Patron of numerous organisations including the Haldane, Amicus and Viva!, Professor and Honorary Fellow of many universities as well as being a regular contributor to public debates on human rights issues.

'Everyone has the right to representation. As a defence lawyer it's my job to defend the indefensible' Michael Mansfield, QC


The book is an exposé of why and how Michael Mansfield does what he does - challenging conventional wisdom on all fronts, asking uncomfortable questions and despite seemingly insuperable odds, helping to bring about systemic change and liberty for those wrongly accused, whether at trial, appeal, inquest or inquiry. The book reveals Mansfield's unique approach to his high-profile cases - assimilation, preparation, cross examination and presentation - and his detailed rejection of forensic orthodoxy, from fingerprints to DNA.

Cases range from the Angry Brigade, the Bradford 12, the Birmingham Six, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Angela Cannings, Jill Dando, Ruth Ellis, Dodi Fayed, the 'Fertilizer' conspiracy, Iraqi hi-jackers, Stephen Lawrence, Fatmir Limaj (one of the leaders of the Kosovan Liberation Army), the Marchioness Disaster, the Price sisters, the 'Ricin' trial, Risley prison riots, Tahira Tabassum, Judith Ward, Arthur Scargill and the miners to the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest and many more. Issues of public concern, human rights and innovative attempts to construct a democratic legal system are discussed in full, but Michael's memoir also unveils with honesty and wit a man who has put as much passion and energy into his life as his work, one of the great personalities of our time.


The Paperback edition of MEMOIRS OF A RADICAL LAWYER by MICHAEL MANSFIELD and Yvette Vanson, with a new afterword, was published on 7 September 2010 and is available from Bloomsbury Publishing, Amazon and all good bookshops.



'A fascinating and passionate record of the author's major cases in courts, inquests and public inquiries, whose context will be as familiar to the general reader as to the lawyer, and which concerned or raised issues beyond the narrowly legal'



'I hugely admire him ... This book is not just a show-off catalogue of his greatest hits. It is a shaming, chilling list of injustices.'

A. N. Wilson, Daily Mail


'A fascinating insight into the mind of a man who has devoted his life to securing the liberty of others ... It is in the transcripts of his cross examinations where the book really comes alive'

New Statesman


'An in-depth insight into the skills that make an outstanding barrister ... Mansfield is refreshingly lacking in pomposity - surprising in any barrister, let alone such a successful one'

Time Out


'Probably the biggest household name at the criminal Bar is Michael Mansfield QC, a sure-fire role model for students wondering about a career in criminal (or civil rights) law.'

The Times Online, 20 October 2008


'There is no question that he has been a force for good in this country, and has kept the flag of civil liberties flying when governments would have been very happy to have seen it suppressed. He can't retire - his country needs him. Carpentry must wait.'

Lynn Barber, 'A Law unto Himself', Observer, Sunday 19 January 2003


'Michael Mansfield QC is a die-hard grand old rebel. He has rejected the Labour Party, dismisses Blair as a Tory, and thereby disqualifies himself from the headlong rush of so many of his senior legal contemporaries to sup in the Labour Government trough of power.'

Guardian, 25 October 1997


'The radical lawyer has become an icon in a disenchanted age ... (Mansfield's) high profile victories take on a hallowed significance: the good guys against the rotten state... with a flourish of his insolence and a refusal to shut up... they flock to him, the disaffected, the inner city victims, Arthur Scargill, and he looks after them all. The Establishment loathes him.'

Lesley White, 'Sunday Times, 6 June 1993