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Tony Robinson's Crime And Punishment -

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to discover the origins of our laws - 'I'm on a quest who made them and why. I started 2,000 years ago, by blood feuds when justice was determined

seized control. until the first kings of England I'll explore medieval justice This week, was legal. and find out why flesh-burning where Norman methods I'll go to a town for ASBO offenders have inspired punishments

who were the first rulers and I'll find out centralised state intelligence. to use In this amazing journey, 150 years in English law I'll discover how the most turbulent left us with professional judges, for the entire country.' trial by jury and a set of laws ALL: Guilty. THEME MUSIC

you'd want to be unless you had to. A courtroom isn't really somewhere find yourself here, But at least if you did you'd know what to expect. you'd be stood in the dock here. If you were the defendant, here. All 12 of them, of course. The jurors would be sitting along

would be around this table. The clerks of the court The judge would be up there. their evidence The witnesses would come and give in the witness box there and the barristers and solicitors and rationally from these benches would be arguing the case calmly the jurors gave their verdict until finally, would pronounce sentence. and the judge But 900 years ago, guilt and innocence the whole business of establishing was very different. justice was often random and brutal. 'Before 1066, The law was frequently used and control the common people. to instill fear in a court of law And the most important figure wasn't human at all.'

Back in medieval times, another man was guilty or innocent. no man could decide whether That was up to God which often took place in a church, and the court, was revealed. was the place where God's judgement And the usual way of doing this

a trial by ordeal. was by what was called At the beginning of the trial,

to give his judgement the priest would call upon God

underwent an ordeal. while the accused the suspect might have to hold For instance, the hot end of a poker like this before letting go of it. and walk five paces that would have caused to your hand. Imagine the damage

So what was the point of that? Well, if the hand healed quickly, pronounced the man innocent, then God had or it blistered or festered, but if it took a long time to heal then God had said he was guilty. 'It was mostly petty criminals this gruesome justice. or innocent peasants who suffered when the Normans invaded, But in 1066,

the brutal force of the law. the whole population would feel

William the Conqueror and his army the Saxon aristocracy virtually wiped out and put the country under occupation. they knew how to use law As well as their military strength, a rebellious population. to exert control over God-fearing people, Although they were also

and even more bloody means they had some new of achieving divine justice. arrived in England with his army, When William the Conqueror sort this out, just the two of us" he said to Harold, "Right, we can man-to-man, single combat, and he challenged Harold to a fight - would rule the country. and whoever won as they say, is history. Harold refused, and the rest,

at the Battle Of Hastings. The two armies fought and the Norman conquest began. Harold was killed But William would have been happy the matter out between themselves, if he and Harold has sorted because man-to-man combat to settle legal disputes. was the Norman way for men It was called trial by battle along by trial by ordeal and it now took its place

as part of English law.' Thank you! Well, good afternoon! Once again... crime, such as murder or rape, 'If a man was accused of a serious by fighting his accuser. he could prove his innocence in front of a large crowd Fights took place of a country fair.' and had the atmosphere Are you ready to rumble?! (ALL CHEER)

surrendered or was killed. 'They'd last until one of the men It was still divine justice,

the innocent would always prevail. because God would ensure that had some obvious pitfalls. But trial by battle Because it relied on brute strength, a legally sanctioned arena it provided a much smaller enemy. in which a big bloke could beat up the story of two neighbours - The Chronicle Of York describes

the other poor but strong.' one rich and feeble, ..seconds away. Round 1!

WHISTLE BLOWS of the rich one The poor man was so jealous so he thought he would accuse him that he wanted to kill him, fight him in battle of a crime so that he could

because he thought he could beat him. the lugubrious spectacle arrived. And it says here, "The day of

to administer blows His wrath leapt forward and his cruelty was after blood.

fell in battle. The man who was not fit to fight who were standing around, In the sight of the multitude by the unjust. the just man was blinded Moreover, with bestial ferocity with sharp knife, and doing his evil deed

cut off his virile parts." Argh! he forcefully and completely Good gracious me! threw them to the people, "A horrible sight and publicly together with the pupils of his eyes were astounded by his rage." so that the children and adults CROWD: Ooh! here he is - Frankie Nick! The winner,

justice was very brutal 900 years ago, said that you were guilty, and if God's will mutilated, you could expect to be killed, to be severely humiliated. at the very least, aren't we? But we're in the 21st century now, We like to think we've made a lot of progress, except that some Norman methods a bit of a comeback. seem to be making DRUM ROLL 'In 1066, England was under occupation. Just 7,000 Norman invaders had to control a population of around 2 million. They crushed opposition with military force, but they also relied on individual communities to enforce the law.' LASER GUNS FIRE

'I've come to Bridlington in Yorkshire to find out how local justice worked under the Normans. Local lad Jason Colley has been in trouble a few times for being drunk and disorderly and earned himself an ASBO. He's keen on his history,

so I'm going to show him how a young lawbreaker like him might have been treated 900 years ago.' Right, Jason, when you were up in front of the court last time, what were you charged with? Breach of ASBO. It's a cycle of crime you're in, isn't it? If you'd done something like that in the medieval period,

then you would have been chucked into this place. This is genuinely Bridlington's medieval prison. In you go. And you would have been banged up in here.

Have you ever been in one of these places before? Yeah, a few times. Right. You're gonna feel quite at home, then, aren't you? If he'd done something really horrendous, then he wouldn't just have been thrown into prison. William the Conqueror's favourite punishment was to castrate somebody and then to blind them. But we won't do that to you cos it'd be a bit messy.

Thank you. You had enough? Yep.

Are you going to be a good boy now? I am. Well, that's not the end, cos now the humiliation starts. We've got 200 extras and they're going to jeer at you while we go all the way into the town square. Come on. DRUM ROLL Actually, I was lying about the extras. Oh, good. How far is the old marketplace?

Um, about five minutes away. Right. You would now be whipped all the way down to the marketplace with the crowds jeering at you. You have a go. This will be fun. Christ, that hurts. DRUM ROLL CONTINUES, PEOPLE JEER And finally, bruised and bleeding, we get to the market square. Can you lift that thing up for me? Do you know what this is? A pillory, Tony. It is a pillory indeed. And this is quite horrible,

cos you can't move once you're in this thing and they might throw stones at you and excrement and all sorts of horrible stuff. And people could actually die in the pillory. Thanks. But if you've done something like - sit down here, please... ..mess up your ASBO, then you go in here and the actual punishment would depend on who you were. If you were a baker and you've been selling stale bread, then they'd probably just lob the bread at you. If you'd been a green grocer selling stinking vegetables, you'd get those. What a tragedy it is that the tomato wasn't introduced into England until several hundred years later. DRUM ROLL 'Public humiliation was a common punishment in Norman times. With the absence of a police force, it was about the best they could do to deter petty criminals. But even though the Normans now ruled the entire country, justice was haphazard.

Punishment in particular was a postcode lottery.

It all depended on where you lived.' In Winchester, a convicted thief would be mutilated. In Dover, he'd be chucked off a cliff. In Sandwich, he'd be buried alive. In some seaport towns, he'd be tied to a stake

below the high-water mark and left to drown. In other words, justice was local rather than national. And here in beautiful, historic Bridlington, they've just reintroduced this notion of local justice. And the idea they've come up with has got something else in common with Norman times - it involves public humiliation.'

900 years after the Norman invasion, come up with a modern take Bridlington Council has on putting criminals in the stocks.' "Rat on a rat. against drug dealers." Help in the fight I should think so, too. that ASBOs on their own aren't enough The local council here have decided their own initiative, and they've instigated

which is basically this. of the town centre It's right in the middle the pillar of shame. and it's become known as they've stuck up posters What they've done is for everyone to see. of all the local kids on ASBOs Here he is - Jason Michael Colley.

Prohibited from entering licensed premises or drinking alcohol in any public place. If he breaches this order, he's liable for a fine of up to ?2,000

or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years. Bang him up, I say. I have to tell you, that photo of you on the pillar of shame is the worst photo I've ever seen. Yeah, I do look a bit rough on there, don't I?

Do you remember when you be on the pillar of shame? first heard that you were going to I felt embarrassed. How did you feel? Seeing my face up there and that, anything to be proud about. it weren't really

What about work? Um...it has affected jobs and that are obviously going to know you, because people the employers in town and that. in the last year or so. I haven't had many job interviews take it off or whatever. and change it all, I wish I could wave a wand what would you prefer - But tell me the truth, your photo on the pillar of shame? to be stuck in the stocks or to have

Why's that? Stuck in the stocks. Cos it's over and done with within a day, but the pillar of shame's up for months, like. 'Putting Jason's face on the pillar for several months was a deliberate move by Bridlington Council. They hoped that if anyone recognised him and caught him in breach of his ASBO, they could report him and therefore help the community in its fight against crime. Sounds like a sensible idea,

but some civil liberties campaigners disapprove. in law enforcement?' the locals play their part So what's wrong with letting

between community justice There's a very fine line and mob rule. engaging a local population Once you start with spying on each other against each other, and enforcing the law to vigilantism it's a very short step

of your society. and to picking on vulnerable members under these orders The naming and shaming of people

is a very backward step.

is controversial now, 'Community justice it was the standard way but in Norman times, of dealing with petty criminals. It was never going to be enough, though, for an occupying army trying to suppress an entire population. Because they were unpopular, many Normans were being murdered by resistance fighters and the killers were being concealed by local villages. The Normans had to put an end to these killings

and decided they'd use the law to do it.' For the first time in England's history, its rulers were strong enough on the entire country. to enforce their justice So they created this law

and the culprit wasn't handed over, that said if any Norman was murdered

subject to a crippling fine. then the entire village would be

for secret killing It was named after the Latin

and was called the murdrum fine. rather unexpected consequences. But it had of a corpse turning up Early court records recall the story near London.' in the village of Sutton an unidentified body turns up Imagine the scene - flies into a panic and the entire village of Sutton

they'll have the murdrum fine because if it's a Norman, slapped on them. So what do you they do? They pick up the body and they dump it in a nearby village so that they'll get the blame. But shortly afterwards, they get a taste of their own medicine, because in another nearby village, another body comes floating down the river.

These villagers have exactly the same fears. They fish out the body and they dump it back in Sutton. What a farce! Normans being bumped off all over the place, Everyone's up to the same trick, bodies being shifted to and fro. that no unidentified bodies trying to make sure

land on their turf.

entirely foolproof, The murdrum may not have been was taking place but it shows that a major shift from the local stocks in the evolution of the law to justice on a national level. towards national control 'Their next step of centralised state intelligence. was the establishment was the first ruler of England William the Conqueror on all his subjects.' to start gathering information 20 years after the Norman invasion, of the whole of England. William embarked on a huge survey and so invasive In fact, it was so total called it the Domesday Book that the people of England of the Day Of Judgement - because it reminded them

and all their good deeds that moment when all of their sins would be weighed up so that they would then know whether they were going to go to heaven or to hell. 'The Domesday Book survey was incredibly thorough. It recorded details of over 13,000 settlements in just two years. because the survey would help ensure It was a shrewd move by William in taxation from the English. he could squeeze every penny

would be severely punished.' Anyone who refused to cooperate How many slaves? How many men do you employ? How much pasture? How many cow hides have you got? than you currently do? more money from your estate How many fish ponds? Could you make of all these questions. The English were deeply suspicious

far more sinister They suspected something and they were right. than just a survey was going on, It was an exercise in state control. If William knew who owned what, then he could threaten to take it away from them. He called a meeting of all the landowners in the country,

told them he knew everything about them

and ordered them to swear allegiance to him. Guess what? Nobody refused.

'The Normans were onto something. They knew that knowledge was power and had started the process of exercising control on a national, rather than local, level. 900 years later, we're now, more than ever, a nation under surveillance. 14 million CCTV cameras. The UK now has

in Europe.' That's more than any other country CCTV. Go ahead. all this technology.' the Normans would have loved 'One thing's for sure, is heading to the snicket, RADIO: A Code-1 male onto King Street now. approaching Prospect Street now. CCTV, I've got him. He's just He's come around the corner now. RADIO: for information-gathering 'It seems the Norman desire has now become an addiction. the state can get its hands These days, on nearly all our personal information. Tax and medical records, emails, bank statements, travel details, mobile phone calls. Soon, there'll be ID cards and biometric passports and eventually even our DNA could be stored on a national identity database. We're told it's for our own safety,

but is it safe to let our political leaders have so much information? What if they lose it, God forbid? Even if you have nothing to hide, you might have some things you want to protect, or your personal relations.' like your privacy after the Domesday survey, Nearly 1,000 years worried by the threat people are once again demands more information from us. posed by a state which constantly

a bit of a helter-skelter, But then the law's always been even in medieval times. England with an iron grip, William the Conqueror had ruled using the law to great effect. The murdrum fine and Domesday Book the Normans maintain control were oppressive measures which helped over the entire nation. But it wasn't to last. After William's death in 1089, began to fall apart, the Norman dynasty and civil war. leading to 20 years of chaos of different parts of the country, Powerful barons seized control taking the law into their own hands. A brutal regime was gone, and injustice. only to be replaced by misery

Finally, in 1154, when William's great grandson Henry II claimed the English throne, the country's fortunes began to change.' A century after the Normans first arrived here, one of our most enlightened English kings on their head turned the old Norman ideas in English justice. and began a revolution

with their red robes and funny wigs. What a bizarre lot judges are, our quirky establishment. They're part of on anyone who breaks the law - These days, they can sit in judgement even members of the royal family. prime ministers, home secretaries,

Back in the 12th century, they had far less clout and their rise to power happened almost by chance.'

When Henry II came to the throne, the country and its legal system were in tatters. He urgently needed to assert royal authority and rebuild respect for the law. And the means that he chose to do that were much more sophisticated and less brutal than those of his Norman ancestors. He pulled together a team of senior judges and sent them all over the country.

And these travelling justices had got the power to overrule the local sheriffs and make sure that the king's law was implemented throughout the entire land. In fact, they were so successful that, 800 years later, Henry's judges are still with us. 'The modern-day travelling judges are known as red judges. Their HQ is in London and they go round the country, taking their expertise with them, making judgements in some of the country's toughest cases. This judge, Sir David Calvert-Smith, has come from London to Luton to preside over a murder trial.

There was a big fuss made when Henry's men arrived in town. They were the top dogs, the King's heavy mob and the local dignitaries would roll out the red carpet. These days, it's less grand, but official protocol is still practised.' MAN: In the old days, I'd have been met, led out on my horse or in my carriage

by the high sheriff and escorted to make sure I wasn't set upon or robbed. Now I'm met at the door of a court, having come off the train. Excuse me, my Lord, can we introduce you to the High Sheriff? Welcome to Bedfordshire. Very nice to meet you. And, uh...wonderful. And the high sheriff will normally sit with me, wearing his sword to make sure I'm not set upon or beaten up or, indeed, bribed.

So there's a good deal of ceremony. 'After the pleasantries with the high sheriff, it's down to business. The files are unpacked, papers sorted and with the help of his clerk, Sir David dons the famous red robes which gives the red judges their nickname.' I've got it. That's right. I can't sentence anybody to death now, as the old judges did. Although I still carry the black cap into court with me, everybody knows I can't actually put it on and use it. 'The law loves tradition. And even in the modern world, Henry's 12th-century judges would recognise much of what goes on today.' When you're sitting in court and you're wearing that red robe, I think you're quite scary.

I should think if I were a defendant, I'd find them quite scary. All rise. FANFARE 'At the end of his day in court, Sir David is escorted to his lodgings - a residence used only for visiting judges.

They are another rarely-seen tradition that's been around since the time of Henry II.' Do you think touring judges will survive? Yes. Because if everybody's left alone, shall we say, in Chelmsford or Truro or, as it might be, and never visited by anybody from outside, local habits tend to kick in. You'd get postcode justice in the end,

because, one court, "We do it this way in Truro and they do it their way in Chelmsford." So in a way, you're trying to do what they were doing in the medieval period -

trying to make sure that law is the same everywhere. Absolutely. It's the same theory, really, as Henry II had, although he had other motives as well. He wanted to keep the barons in order and raise taxes as well.

'These judges were vital to Henry II. They helped him spread the tentacles of royal authority all around the country. But Henry had inadvertently unleashed a formidable legal force, a force that would eventually have the power to sit in judgement over the King himself. 450 years later, Henry's successor Charles I the judiciary could be discovered just how powerful and executed for treason.' when he was tried

unforeseen benefit But there was another around the country. to Henry sending his men one of the most important It would lead to of our legal system. and unique aspects Nowadays, if you go to London, will be the same there you expect that the law

or Liverpool or any other city. as it is in Manchester of Henry's reign, But at the beginning that wasn't the case. in pomp and ceremony. The judges toured around They had royal authority, but there were countless different laws and procedures throughout the country, so they had to use their own discretion and expertise

when passing judgement. Then they went back to London and shared their judgements with their fellow judges and the number of judgements grew and grew and grew until it became a complete nightmare. How could any new judge be expected to learn all this?

Eventually, Henry's most senior judge, Ranulf de Glanvill, a superb idea. had what turned out to be all of the judgements down... He decided to write ..in one book. of the internet - It was like the invention manage to live without it?" everybody said, "How did we Because from now on, could be circulated all the judgements

throughout the entire country. and applied as English common law. The result was what came to be known 'It sounds obvious to us now of all the laws of the land. that there should be a written record only to a few learned men. laws and procedures were known But in those days, As the law wasn't consistent, judges had specific local knowledge

which they either shared with each other or kept locked up in their heads. By compiling it into a single volume, Glanvill had unlocked this secret world and begun to standardise the practice of law throughout the land.' This is Glanvill's original effort. It was a small handbook with all the new and existing laws in it so judges could refer to it. It was called The Treaties On The Laws And Customs Of The Kingdom Of England. could Glanvill have imagined But never in his wildest dreams what he'd started. every law that was made, Because from then on, had to be written down. every judgement that was given All these books are law books. that it would take you 450 years One professor of law has suggested

to read English law in its entirety. I shouldn't bother, if I were you.

of having a common law, 'To understand the significance a legal historian here in Oxford.' I spoke to Paul Brand, by "common law"? Paul, what do we exactly mean we mean a law that is common Well, by the common law,

to the whole of England.

a law that is common, also, Ultimately, a common... to all Englishmen. Prior to that, there were, in effect, local customs, county by county, often smaller areas than that. How do you think this heritage of common law has affected us today? It's affected us enormously because it has become

the basis for legal systems all over the civilised and, at least, in part in the uncivilised world.

It's left us a heritage of things like jury trial, professional lawyers, professional judiciary, to the Government when they have to. people who will stand up to thank Henry II for. It seems we've got a lot

of our legal establishment - His reign gave rise to two pillars

of English common law.' independent judges and the foundation and hunky-dory? So was everything all fair

Not quite. just like our judges today, The job of Henry's judges, and pronounce punishment. was to oversee the trial or not guilty. The judges didn't say guilty by the man upstairs. That decision was taken divine judgement had reigned supreme. 'For centuries, Both the Norman system of trial by battle and the older system of trial by ordeal were still the main legal ways of establishing guilt or innocence. But now church leaders had begun to question the practice

of subjecting a suspect to an ordeal. It wasn't that they thought it was barbaric or unjust. Far from it. They simply thought it was wrong for priests to summon God at the drop of a hat every time they needed a verdict. God, after all, was busy and had his own agenda.' Pope Innocent III issued an edict Finally, in the year 1215,

once and for all banning the practice

of trial by ordeal and that signalled the end

and trial by battle.

in criminal trials, For the first time the courts of law. man-made justice was about to enter

'Even if God wasn't invited, in his house. court proceedings still took place

And in the year 1220,

caused a legal revolution. a woman named Alice accidentally and to save her own skin, She was in trouble with the law accusing them of theft. she grassed on five men,

In the past, anyone accused of a crime would have to undergo a trial by ordeal and await God's judgement, but not this time.'

The court arrested the five men, but they realised they had a problem. They couldn't use the traditional methods of trial by battle or trial by ordeal to prove their guilt or innocence because they weren't allowed to anymore.

They'd have to think of something else. 'Previously, in some less serious trials, in the dispute the judge allowed the parties of their friends and neighbours along to bring up to 12

on their behalf. to give evidence under oath They were known as juries. to reach a verdict, Now, with no other legal means the court decided for the first time to actually settle the case.' that it would summon a jury to the judgement of their neighbours. The five men were asked to submit just going to be their mates. But this time, it wasn't

be picked at random by the court. The jury of 12 was going to but they soon wished they hadn't, The men agreed, although one of them was innocent, because the jury said that the other four were thieves and they were promptly hanged. 'Alice may have been trying to save her own skin, but she'd unwittingly started a system that's been with us ever since. Trial by jury had arrived. ALL: Guilty. Guilty. With Alice, the jury system had begun. But it didn't exactly take off. The old kind of trials - trials by battle and trials by ordeal -

were the judgement of God and you can't argue with that. and men are fallible, But since a jury is made up of men

should be forced it was felt that nobody it should be voluntary. to have to accept a trial by jury, but not everyone wants to go. it might be good for you, A bit like the gym - 'Just a year after the Alice trial, persuading defendants judges were having problems to go before a jury. It was particularly unpopular juries would have been made up of because in those days,

and might be biased against them, neighbours of the accused a bad reputation in town.' especially if they had a suspected murderess called Matilda In the year 1221, refused to go in front of a jury because she said that too many of them hated her so much. Another man called John refused because he said he'd done so much evil in his life

that he didn't want to trust his fate to his neighbours. Another man called William, who was a suspected sheep stealer, refused after he'd seen the jury hang the person in front of him. All three refused and escaped execution. After that, the judges decided to put their collective foot down.

They realised that a little bit of persuasion was going to be needed for trial by jury. to ensure that people volunteered Hi, lads. called peine forte et dure, So they instituted a proceedings being crushed by weights. which involved you didn't want a trial by jury, What happened was if you said that

put some weights on you then they would they would put more and more on and if you still said no, you were crushed to death. until finally preferred to be crushed And, ironically, a lot of people because if they did, then their goods and chattels would go to their family. But if you were hung after a jury trial, then the Crown took everything. Ugh! MAN: 'The collapse in March of the Jubilee Line corruption trial

was widely blamed on juries sloping off,

being baffled by the City jargon yet again, it was claimed, wasting the taxpayer millions of pounds.' 'The jury system has been around for eight centuries, but it often comes under attack.

Critics argue juries are too costly or that they can't understand complicated cases. if we just let our learned judges So would we be better off decide who's guilty and who isn't?' If we get rid of the jury system, one class of people we will increasingly find class of people meting it out. receiving the justice and another a lack of legitimacy That can lead to

in the criminal-justice system, the idea that privileged people a lack of trust in the system, and vulnerable people receive it. mete out justice and poor have common sense, I think that juries

and they are the best people they have life experience someone is telling the truth or not. to decide whether 150 years after the Norman invasion,

England had acquired three major planks of its legal system - independent judges, trial by jury and the common law. They'd all evolved in order to help the king maintain his power and they all required his support. But when Henry's son King John came to the throne, he didn't care about all that. He ruthlessly abused his power and tried to turn the clock back.

All that progress seemed to have been in vain. DRUM ROLL

'But just in time, something extraordinary happened which put the King in his place. in a field in Berkshire called the Magna Carta A simple document changed the world forever.' BELLS TOLL

ACCORDION MUSIC

in the Berkshire town of Egham 'Every summer there's a special fete. of the signing of the Magna Carta, It's held on the anniversary historical document which is a world-famous and one of the cornerstones of our democracy. So, presumably, the locals can tell us what it's all about.' We don't know what it is. What is it? From the Magna Carta, the right for a man to own his own land

and his own animals. I don't know. A piece of paper, wasn't it? It was written by some king and it was around here, so that's why. I really can't remember it all, honestly. I mean, I'd be the last person to interview. So we've got this really major thing of international importance called the Magna Carta. In fact, it's so important that nobody around here seems to know anything about it at all. And it didn't take place in Egham town, anyway. It happened over there on that rather boggy piece of marshland. And my cab driver is local and he'd never heard of it and it took him half an hour to find it. 'The king of the time was bad ol' King John from the Robin Hood stories.

He was Henry II's son, but unlike his dad,

he had little respect for justice. When his barons refused to contribute to his war chest, John put up taxes, stole their land and locked them up without trial.

The barons started a rebellion. They took control of London and Lincoln, bringing the country to the verge of civil war. Finally, the King backed down and agreed to sign up to the barons' demands.

They'd prepared a document, the Magna Carta, which limited the King's powers and required him to accept the idea that everyone in the country should have rights under the law. The two sides, still distrustful of each other, arranged to meet here at Runnymead to do the deal. Local Mayor Hugh Meares thinks this field was chosen specifically for its bogginess.' Hugh, what happened here on that fateful day? Well, on the morning of 15th June 1215, King John was in a bit of trouble and his barons were in something of a high having had some significant military successes,

but neither side felt quite strong enough

to test the outcome in a battle. So the stage was set for mediation and they both came here to the meadows, where they met. But why the meadows? It's not very grand, is it? Well, the meadows are an open space. You've got the river on one side, you've got a wooded hill on the other. It is very steep over there. And not particularly suitable for deploying knights. And once of the chroniclers describes these as the water meadows near Staines and I think that gives us something of a pointer, because if these were water meadows, then it wouldn't have been the ground where either side could have mounted an unexpected attack.

So how did the day end?

Well, the final drafting points were settled, the barons renewed their homage to the King and they exchanged the kiss of peace. The kiss of peace. I like that. Mwah. Ooh, you're taller than me. Mwah. Mwah. So, job done. King John had got his snog from the barons, he'd got the Magna Carta. From now on, would justice and freedom flourish throughout the entire land?

Not a bit of it. King John wasn't going to be forced to stick to all this guff. He knew he could get the Pope to annul it. As far as he was concerned, this wasn't worth the parchment it was written on. But the barons weren't daft. They insisted that copies were circulated throughout the entire kingdom, which is why the Magna Carta survived and has become one of the most famous legal documents in the whole world. But if it was just a piece of political convenience, why is it so important? 'The Magna Carta contained some 62 clauses, most of them righting fairly minor wrongs. For example, clause 23 says that no town or man should be forced to make bridges at riverbanks unless there's some ancient rite telling them to do so. But one or two clauses have become fundamental cornerstones of our legal system. They stated that no-one could be detained without being charged and that everyone had the right to a fair trial. 'These rights are now so important to us that anyone trying to remove them does so at their peril. In Northern Ireland in the 1970s,

the Government allowed police to hold IRA suspects without charge and put them on trial without witnesses. There was a huge public outcry that fundamental human rights were being abused.' MEN YELL, WHISTLES BLOW 'A particular objection was the Government suspension of the right of any citizen held in jail without charge to have a court hearing explaining the legal basis of their imprisonment, a right now known as habeas corpus.'

(BOTH SPEAK INDISTINCTLY) 'Dame Shirley Williams was an MP throughout that period. She now sits in the House Of Lords and is a key advocate for the principles set down in Magna Carta.' It is rather ironic that something that was essentially a stitch-up put together in haste should be so radical. Not that hasty. The stitch-up may have been the appearance at Runnymede,

but the document itself is not a stitch-up. It's a carefully thought-through document and one which, I think, is in beautiful prose, actually. What is it that the Magna Carta says, Shirley, that's so important? Here's the quote. "To no-one will we sell, to none deny or delay right or justice," which is something that might be the basis of the habeas corpus. So habeas corpus is a very key element in the concept of English justice because it says you can't hold a person without a trial for more than a relatively short period of time. In England, traditionally, that period has been 24 hours, which is a standard from, roughly, King John to a few years ago. We then moved it to 48 hours. It then got moved to seven days. It then got moved to 14 days. And, finally, last year, in parliament, it got moved to 28 days. Would you feel happy voting for a longer period of time? I would not. 'Habeas corpus is enshrined in British law, but it often seems less important to politicians when the country is under threat. In 2004, the British authorities detained

eight terror suspects in Belmarsh prison. They were never charged or put on trial, but were being held indefinitely.

After a lengthy dispute, they were eventually released because independent judges sitting in the House Of Lords overruled the Government.' So are the marshy fields of Runnymede all that's left of our great historical document? No, no! Come over here! Look! Look, look, look. There's this great big thing - look! - to commemorate Magna Carta,

symbol of freedom under law. Great big steps leading up to it, fantastic columns, lovely gold stars on a blue background. Makes you proud to be British, doesn't it? Erected... by the American Bar Association. Maybe it doesn't matter that it doesn't look very English. It actually looks a bit more like a flying saucer, doesn't it?

After all, the Americans have woven the Magna Carta into their entire constitution. But the point about the Magna Carta is that now it's become international. 'Magna Carta is still a symbol and an inspiration. And in Egham, there are at least some members of the community who are keen to remind us of its relevance.'

The greatest thing, for me, in the Magna Carta was the guarantee of freedom and the right to trial and 12 good men and true. As you might guess, I'm not English. I'm here because I grew up in a part of the world where things like not putting people in prison without charge or trial doesn't come so automatically. BAND PLAYS APPLAUSE 'In 1066, England was beset by random justice and superstition. The Normans ruled the country with an iron fist,

combining brute force, community justice and Big-Brother-style surveillance. But within just 150 years,

the country had made some huge steps forward. The common law, professional judges and in the Magna Carta, some fundamental human rights.

And rather than relying on the hand of God, now people accused of a crime could be tried by a jury of men. So did sweet justice now reign in England? No. Way to go. 'In the next program, we'll witness the battle over freedom of speech and find out how the King finally lost his power and his head.' ..to speak his conscience and boldly declare his... Closed Captions by CSI - Cassie Britland .