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  • Court Number One

  • The Old Bailey Trials That Defined Modern Britain
  • By: Thomas Grant
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 17 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (418 ratings)

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Court Number One cover art

Court Number One

By: Thomas Grant
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
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Summary

Court Number One of the Old Bailey is the most famous court room in the world and the venue of some of the most sensational human dramas ever to be played out in a criminal trial.  

The principal criminal court of England, historically reserved for the more serious and high-profile trials, Court Number One opened its doors in 1907 after the building of the 'new' Old Bailey. In the decades that followed it witnessed the trials of the most famous and infamous defendants of the 20th century. It was here that the likes of Madame Fahmy, Lord Haw Haw, John Christie, Ruth Ellis, George Blake (and his unlikely jailbreakers, Michael Randle and Pat Pottle), Jeremy Thorpe and Ian Huntley were defined in history, alongside a wide assortment of other traitors, lovers, politicians, psychopaths, spies, con men and - of course - the innocent.   

Not only notorious for its murder trials, Court Number One recorded the changing face of modern British society, bearing witness to alternate attitudes to homosexuality, the death penalty, freedom of expression, insanity and the psychology of violence. Telling the stories of 12 of the most scandalous and celebrated cases across a radically shifting century, this audiobook traces the evolving attitudes of Britain, the decline of a society built on deference and discretion, the tensions brought by a more permissive society and the rise of trial by mass media.  

From the Sunday Times best-selling author of Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories, Court Number One is a mesmerising window onto the thrills, fears and foibles of the modern age. 

©2019 Thomas Grant (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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What listeners say about Court Number One

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Engrossing from start to finish

Engrossing from start to finish. Brilliantly written, very well narrated. Intriguing but also heart breaking in places.

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A fascinating listen into a number of the great criminal cases in Great Britain

I absolutely loved this. It’s not at all dry and very engaging. Wonderfully read and highly recommended if you are interested in true life criminal history.

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Very good narrator

The narrator was great, but at times the story was hard to follow. I still thoroughly enjoyed the book.

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Excellent a great listen

Well written, well narrated packed with interesting historical facts. A highly recommended historical account of Court no 1 at the Old Bailey

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Fascinating cultural history

Very insightful look at some momentous trials and the process of a society casting judgement on an individual. Sexuality, espionage, murder and society’s collective conscience populate the ‘pages’!

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Enlightening

A major addition to the layman's understanding of the UK's Justice System. impeccably narrated and well worth a credit.

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fascinating

each chapter is a pin in time. All told from a place of knowledge and respect. 5 *. Thoroughly recommended

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Important and Engrossing

I thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Grant's previous book (The Case Histories of Jeremy Hutchinson) but this is even better. While COURT NUMBER ONE details all the gruesome forensic evidence a true crime reader might crave, it also lives up to its title in providing a compelling account of how the conduct of trials at the Old Bailey has helped "define modern Britain". Grant clearly holds the British legal system in high regard, but this does not blind him to the hypocrisy, incompetence and sheer eccentricity of many of its practitioners. He skewers judicial pomposity and class/racial prejudice throughout the book, bursting the balloon of inflated reputations (not least Edward Marshall-Hall and George Carman), while acknowledging the fine art of advocacy and the tremendous strain under which legal teams operate. There is a parade of villains here (from John Reginald Christie to Ian Huntley), whose pathological motivations are probed with insight and commendable restraint, but the lasting impression is of the victims of injustice (Ruth Ellis, Edith Thompson, Timothy Evans) and the stories that led them to the gallows. The absurd nature of certain cases is wittily exposed, but tellingly Grant never loses sight of the human suffering involved in a criminal trial, exemplified in his sensitive examination of Norman Scott's treatment at the hands of Jeremy Thorpe and his 'Establishment' friends.

I was initially dubious of what I took to be Jonathan Keeble's rather self-consciously world-weary narration, but grew to appreciate his wry, unsensational approach and was ultimately moved by the understated yet heart-felt compassion he revealed in Grant's lucid prose. Overall this is an important, engrossing work - as addictive as any Netflix cold case documentary.

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Great insight into aspects of the justice system

Enjoyed this book with its factual and interesting cases.
Not sensualising the facts but giving matter of fact accounts.
Some cases were famous others I had never heard of but they all give an insight to the way the court system works and has developed.

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well done

I take students to the Old Bailey every year so they can see a day in the life of a trial. Anyone can queue up and go in. This book is excellent, brings the sadness of life to the fore and shows us a side of life most of us hopefully never see.

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