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In her defence

Helena Kennedy has spent decades fighting for women’s rights— and she’s not giving up, says Sarah Langford

In her defence

Helena Kennedy has spent decades fighting for women’s rights— and she’s not giving up, says Sarah Langford

© DAVID HARTLEY/SHUTTERSTOCK

A recent Twitter thread asked followers to name the books they considered compulsory reading for law students. Over and over again a book first published over 20 years ago kept appearing: Helena Kennedy’s Eve was Framed.

Now a Queen’s Counsel and Labour peer, Kennedy has a reputation as a legal firebrand. With her interest in human rights, she has appeared in a string of high-profile cases including the Brighton Bombing trial and Guildford Four appeal, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1994 and the abduction of baby Abbie Humphries. She is a member of Doughty Street—the chambers which she co-founded in 1990—and over the last few decades she has chaired dozens of prominent committees. She has her own foundation, providing bursaries to disadvantaged students, an echo to Kennedy’s own upbringing in a working-class area of Glasgow. But it was back in 1992 that Kennedy’s book consolidated her status as a feminist icon. It shot a laser beam through the legal system and society, exposing patterns of ingrained misogyny. Someone on the Twitter thread put it simply. Kennedy’s book, she wrote, “made me feel part of a sisterhood.”

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In Prospect’s December issue: Timothy Garton Ash and David Allen Green assess Brexit and ask whether it’s too late for things to change. Garton Ash explains how Brexit is just one part of a fracturing Europe and that it might not be too late for the UK’s situation—or that of the rest of Europe—to change. Green takes apart the “shambolic” way that Britain has approached Brexit and suggests a number of options that parliament should strongly consider if minister are to change their views. Elsewhere in the issue: Jo Glanville visits a rural GP surgery and exposes the crises that are played out day-in-day-out all over the country. Stephen Phelan suggests that Spain’s decision to exhume General Franco’s remains threatens to disturb more than his bones. Martin Rees writes about our dreams of understanding the entire universe—and how we may never be able to satisfy that desire.