Sister in Law by Harriet Wistrich


Wednesday 19th June, 7pm. Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham.

Fighting for justice in a system designed by men.

In a remarkable legal career, renowned feminist lawyer Harriet Wistrich has been at the forefront of some historic and ground-breaking legal victories. This event will give a unique insight into some of her hard-won cases, demonstrating that terrifyingly often, the law is not fit-for-purpose for half the population.

When Sally Challen won her appeal to overturn her conviction for the murder of her coercively controlling husband, it was with Harriet Wistrich at her side. 
When victims of taxi driver and serial rapist John Worboys successfully took the Metropolitan Police to court for their investigative failures, and then, four years later, helped to hold the Parole Board to account for their decision to grant his early release from prison, the solicitor acting for them was Harriet Wistrich. 
It was Harriet who represented a pioneering group of the women caught up in the ‘spy cops’ scandal – women deceived into forming long-term relationships with men later revealed to be undercover police officers embedded within their communities. 

In a remarkable legal career, Harriet has been at the forefront of some historic and ground-breaking legal victories. Frequently working with women who have survived male violence or abuse, sometimes with the bereaved families of those who did not survive, her work has led her to challenge the police, CPS, government departments and the prison and immigration detention system.

In Sister in Law, she tells the shocking stories of some of those who have come to her for assistance and shines a feminist light on the landscape of arcane laws and byzantine systems, skewed towards male behaviour and responses, through which she has steered them. Litigation can be a long and rocky path of pitfalls and dead ends and there are defeats as well as gains, hours of painstaking work as well as courtroom drama. It takes collaboration, extraordinary tenacity and huge compassion, but Harriet Wistrich is proof that it is possible to demand better justice and to bring about important change.

Harriet Wistrich is the founder and director of the Centre for Women’s Justice and a solicitor of over 25 years’ experience. She has worked for many years with civil liberties firm Birnberg Peirce, acting in many high-profile cases around violence against women, including on behalf of women who challenged the police and parole board in the John Worboys case, women deceived in relationships by undercover police officers and women appealing murder convictions for killing abusive partners. She is also a founder member of the campaign group Justice for Women. Among other accolades, she was named Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2014, Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2018 for public law and Law Society Gazette personality of the year 2019, and awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by Kent University in 2022.