The morning after the police raid there was confused excitement at the Iron Door club, it soon became obvious that we (Harry Ormesher and myself would benefit from some legal advice. I immediately started to pursue people we knew with a legal background, eventually one name cropped up Mr Ian Levin, further investigation revealed that Mr Ian Isadore Levin was a partner in a practice Canter Levin and Berg Victoria Street Liverpool 2 .The practice was established by Canter in 1947, immediately before he set up the practice he was an Intermediate Judge at the Nirenberg War Trials.
Geoff; it’s my understanding that the Liverpool firm of solicitors calling themselves Cantor Levin and Mannheim of 15 Victoria Street, Liverpool 2, as they were then known according to the inserted below 1957 entry in the London Gazette. Were, at that time, perhaps more skilled and accustomed to dealing with civil litigation and the legal conveyance of property matters, rather than that of bumping heads with the police in the course of defending a client as the result of a criminal prosecution. In your post, you make reference to such a possibility when you wrote:
... it occurred to me that our man Mr Levin appeared to be lost at all the evidence that was forwarded by Bonner I did wonder whether our man had in fact familiarised himself with the brief.
It was not until 1967, and the arrival of Peter Berg at the firm and whose specialty was criminal advocacy, that Cantor Levin and Berg (as the firm then became known) gained the reputation as Liverpool’s go-to-lawyers by those who found themselves at odds with the law. It is said that while Peter Berg played no direct part in the defence of the two young perpetrators convicted of the infamous Jamie Bulger murder (Walton, Liverpool 1993). He was nevertheless informally consulted, as the most experienced criminal defence solicitor in Liverpool at the time, by members of the accused’s defence teams being that, at one time or other, he had mentored most of them in the skills of dealing with the police in the defence of a client.
See - "Brief history of Cantor Levin and Berg" at ...http://www.canter-law.co.uk/about/company-history
I should explain before this Gilbert and Sullivan type court was underway The Iron Door club and their representative was asked by the clerk to the court if we would abide with the decision of the court or have it transferred to the Crown court in front of a jury. We opted for the first option!
Right decision Geoff. For generally speaking, if a criminal matter can be decided upon in a lower Magistrate’s Court of England and Wales but a defendant(s) elect beforehand to plead the case in a higher court (such as the Crown Court in this instance) then the final outcome could well back-fire drastically in the event of a guilty verdict. As a presiding Crown Court Judge can hand-down a much stiffer sentence (and most likely will) as a form of retribution than a Justice of the Peace sitting as a Magistrate can. For such parties in England and Wales willing to plead guilty to an offence then by far the best course of action is to have matter decided at the earliest convenience in a lower court of law.
I like your “Gilbert and Sullivan” reference because this is often what it could feel like to some back then who were not in the habit of finding themselves compelled to make appearances in a court of law. Echoes of the old tried and tested ways of conducting such matters being still the order of the day and, deliberately made to be intimidating at that. Liverpool’s Dale Street Magistrate’s Court, where this particular piece of legal theatre took place on that October day in 1960, was closed in June 2015 after some 150 years of dispensing justice when its particular form of business was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts in Derby Square. However, in between the time it was closed and that of being completely gutted, the Liverpool Echo was given permission to let one James Maloney, a photographer with the newspaper, loose inside a vacated Dale Street Magistrate’s Court with his camera to make a visual record of the complex for local historical purposes that is online to view at …http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/step-inside-dale-street-magistrates-9687662
Just keep scrolling down the opened Liverpool Echo page to view all of the 49 images available.
Geoff; when you stood in the dock, on that Friday morning of October 28th 1960, being verbally castigated by Magistrate McFarland, then below is an image taken from the Maloney collection of photographs of the courtroom scene (minus the participants) that you would have likely been looking at ...
After 56 years, I bet when you close your eyes Geoff, you can still see those lined-up against Harry Ormsher and yourself speaking out against the pair of you.
PS: Thank you very much Geoff; I’m enjoying myself (in my own way) digging up all this stuff relating to your reminiscences. It’s giving the 71-year old muscle between my ears a good workout.
While it can sometimes feels like there’s only you and I having an online conversation, which is understandable seeing that we must be amongst the dwindling few still around with first-hand knowledge of what went on back then. I can nevertheless gauge by looking at the page views of a topic if there’s anyone out there reading this stuff. Of which, regarding our discourse of late, has just passed the 200-page viewed mark.