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From defending a stalker to a case involving a blackmail attempt on Coleen Rooney over the return of her stolen mobile phone — it’s all in a day’s work for the defence lawyers at one of Britain’s biggest legal practices, Tuckers. With TV cameras given unprecedented access to follow the team from the Manchester office around, eavesdropping on their conversations with their clients, it offers a fascinating glimpse into this often shady world.
TV Choice spoke to the self-confessed ‘flamboyant’ senior partner at Tuckers, Franklin Sinclair, who gave us the low-down on The Briefs…
Tell us about The Briefs.
It’s fly-on-the-wall style following me and members of our staff around, and it’s centred on six or seven clients and their cases.
Is there anywhere that the TV cameras were not allowed to go?
They are not allowed in the courtroom, but they are present at the police station when we are having confidential conversations with our clients and advising them what to say and what not to.
Do you think there is anything that will surprise viewers about the way in which you work?
Probably. What I really wanted the programme to achieve — which in part it does, but in part it doesn’t — was to answer the question that I get asked at every dinner party I go to which is, ‘How can you act for these horrible people? How can you do your job?’ I think this programme will give people an understanding of that.
One of the bits that I really loved — which I think will horrify the public — is advice given by one of our solicitors to a client in the police station on how not to answer questions. The public might think that’s a little bit cynical and that we shouldn’t be doing that, but I don’t agree with that at all. I think it’s very much our job and I think she was brilliant. She actually gave him a very detailed instruction on how he must not, under any circumstances, respond to any questions by the police however much they try to get him to do so.
Tell us about the case involving Wayne and Coleen Rooney.
Our client was charged with blackmailing them after Coleen’s mobile phone was stolen and there were personal pictures on the memory card of her family. He was part of a gang accused of demanding money to stop the pictures being sold to newspapers and magazines.
What other cases do we see in The Briefs?
Among them are a woman in her sixties accused of drug dealing, a guy charged with watching indecent images of under-age girls on his computer, and a stalker.
Were you surprised that your clients were happy to be on TV?
No. You only have to watch other programmes to see that people are quite happy to have themselves embarrassed on television!
Did having the TV cameras following you around for three months ever seem intrusive?
During that time we got to know the camera crew well and they were extremely empathetic to the client and the cases. They sometimes filmed the clients on their own at home or in the pub before the case without us. The approach they took was to get the confidence of the client and they were very professional throughout.