Absolvo: The Ides of March at the UK Supreme Court

Hareya Gebreyohanes, pupil at Bishop Thomas Grant School (part of the London Classics Hub) told us how she got on at the mock trial of the assassins of Caesar at the UK Supreme Court on the 5th September 2015, an event put on by the Lawyers Group in support of Classics for All.

On Wednesday 5th October, Head of Latin Dr Sini-Spencer, my classmates Gabriella and Thea and I entered the Supreme Court in Parliament Square for a mock trial of the assassins of Julius Caesar (in which we were the accused), organised by charity Classics for All and supported by the Lawyers Group.  The fact that this role play was based on the true account of the murder of Julius Caesar by his close friends meant it felt real for us (or certainly me) as we waited in the lobby to be tried.

Having collected our nametags, the usher called us into the courtroom.  The argument was whether the assassins were guilty of murder or whether what they had committed was ‘justifiable homicide’ or tyrannicide.  First to speak for the prosecution was William Boyce QC who outlined his points humorously, with the aid of his three rubber ducks, and got us quaking in our boots.  He then handed over to his junior counsel – Arabella Macdonald – who explained the evidence against us clearly and concisely.

After the prosecution, the two lawyers for the defence spoke.  The first was Anthony Peto QC who refuted the prosecution’s allegations and gave a brief summary of Caesar’s reign to put everything into context.  The last lawyer to speak was Maya Lester QC who justified the tyrannicide, showing it to be the only remaining option for Brutus, Cassius and the other assassins to depose who they believed to be a tyrant.

Afterwards, Judge Hughes retired, at which point Dr Sini-Spencer made an elaborate speech on how Classics for All supports Bishop Thomas Grant School and the benefit of the project to students, for which she received vigorous applause from the audience.  When his Lordship returned, a vote was held to decide what should happen to us, the defendants, and thankfully we were acquitted, as the majority voted ‘absolvo’.

The trial was over and we were delighted with the outcome; not only had the lawyers saved us from almost certain death, but we were even led out of the courtroom to enjoy some fine refreshments in the reception!  Before it was time to leave, we were fortunate enough to speak with several members of the Lawyers Group; to Lord Hughes himself; and to representatives of Classics for All.

It had been an interesting, memorable and enjoyable experience and it was a privilege for me to have joined my school friends at this insightful event.