Defendant Told to Represent Herself at Court in Legal First

Defendant Told to Represent Herself at Court in Legal First


A woman accused of tampering with evidence in a murder trial has been told she must defend herself in court because there are no criminal defence barristers available.

In what is believed to be a legal first, the defendant, Elishah Anderson, has now been instructed by Judge Peter Rook QC to defend herself.

The trial, being held at Southwark Crown Court, relates to the stabbing of Jobari Gooden, 27, who was killed outside a Peckham barbershop in December.

Ms Anderson is accused of perverting the course of justice, along with two other individuals. She entered a not-guilty plea. Ms Anderson said she was not happy with her barrister and was informed that he would not be able to continue to represent her as a result of her dissatisfaction.

However, due to current industrial action, no other criminal barristers are able to take on her case.

While defendants have the option to represent themselves, senior lawyers have stated they believe this to be the first time a defendant has ever been forced to do so without a choice.

Since April, barristers have been operating a ‘no returns’ policy in protest of their wages and working conditions. As part of the industrial action, criminal defence barristers are declining to take on cases when other barristers are unable to represent a client, such as when another case has overrun.

Barristers are also expected to begin a general strike on Monday due to financial issues.

According to Hesham Puri, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA), if politicians do not address the underfunding of legal aid, more defendants might find themselves in Anderson’s position.

The Ministry of Justice stated that they would not be directly commenting on the problems brought up by the strike action.


Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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