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My Talk: Tales from Queen Elizabeth’s Courts

Alexander Gregg said, "There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience."

My talk certainly follows this ethos as it combines fact, humour and passion to keep an audience amused, informed, but most importantly, entertained. I begin with a plotted history of the ancient office of Justice of the Peace that was created by the Sovereign over 600 years ago. I reveal the powers held by Justices in early times and their curious responsibilities to the Crown, for example, prison building, bridge repairs and even the authority to raise a group of armed men to quell peasant uprisings!

I share with the audience the thought 'Could such powers work in the 21st Century?' This comparison is always provoking and regularly comical.

Moving into the 1800’s, I discuss the abject poverty of the time and its relationship to crime. Thousands of people were dying of disease and poor nutrition every year. I reveal how crime was dealt with by local courts were unbelievably, for stealing bread or coal, a JP would often sentence people to be flogged! Such severe punishment was even handed down to children - some as young as just eight years old.

I also explore the conditions of the infamous Kirkdale prison - so notorious that it was known throughout the kingdom for its harsh treatment and its high mortality rate. This establishment was actually admired and copied by regimes throughout Europe. My question to the audience is, "Did it work as a deterrent and would such a regime work today?"

Despite the serious subject, there are many amusing anecdotes, laughs and shocks throughout - and certainly plenty to captivate and entertain. I even reveal some tales from the funny situations that I have experienced in my 15 years of service as a Justice of the Peace.

This talk can run between 45 and 60 minutes depending on your requirement and I always welcome the opportunity to take questions from the audience.


I have enjoyed a rich and varied career which has included occupations such as a tugboat sailor on the world-famous River Mersey, a Special Constable for nine years and a fundraiser for children with special needs. I was previously the former Chief Executive of a charity that provided free legal advice for local communities.

In the shadow of Liverpool Football Club, I attended Anfield Secondary Modern in the early 1960’s and returned in 2008 as a Governor appointed by the local authority. I have also been an honorary member of the ‘University of Life’ for far too long to mention!

I became a JP in 1997 and was a Senior Magistrate serving the city of Liverpool. On occasion, I also sat in the higher court with Crown Court judges on appeals. The experience in law and order, gained over 15 years, enables me to provide a unique insight to the workings of the English legal system.

I have delivered my talk to a wide variety of audiences including the NYPD, Women’s Institute, Geneva Business School, and Merseyside Police Force... amongst many, many others.

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