Episode S02E01, “Samaritan”
In S02E01 of Law and Order: UK, “Samaritan”, Patrick Malahide reprises his role as that slippery rascal Robert “Limbo” Ridley, QC. This time he is defending a homophobic police officer accused of withholding back-up and medical aid to a gay PC who was fatally wounded on the line of duty by a drug dealer.
There is no doubt for the viewer whatsoever that PC Ray Griffin (Jamie Forman) is guilty. The investigation team and prosecutors know for a fact that he had a nasty habit of secretly handing out anti-gay literature in order to bully and harass gay officers. They also know that Griffin got a young and impressionable officer to retrieve CCTV footage showing him lurking behind a building watching as PC Nick Bentley (Ashley Rolfe) bled to death from gun shot wounds.
Griffin for his part is claiming that he misheard the call on his radio confusing “Creake Street” where the shooting took place with “Leake Street”. It is up to the jury to decide his guilt or innocence.
The Last Refuge of the Desperate
Ridley makes his first appearance at the Plea and Case Management Hearing. He starts off chirpy and jocular. “My lady, the charge of misconduct in public office is the last refuge of the desperate. This might be a matter for internal police discipline, but not criminal proceedings.”
That’s right, the Crown is going for a misconduct charge rather than manslaughter. This has been an extremely difficult and emotionally charged case for police detectives Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) to investigate. PC Griffin is very well-respected and admired by many of his colleagues who believe him to be a kind and helpful elder officer. It is a horribly difficult position the protagonists find themselves in with accusing a police officer of doing something so awful to the equally well-regarded PC Bentley. The “thin blue line” comes into effect making the investigation all the more difficult.
Therefore, the prosecution go for the lesser charge of misconduct. Ridley happily sums it all up, “Why not manslaughter-gross negligence? Because the Crown knows that such a charge would never succeed.”
James Steel (Ben Daniels) passionately argues his case, insisting that public officials who rely on public trust must be held to the highest standard possible in order to hold that very trust. Ridley then makes what I think is a somewhat unusual argument, “My client may have made an error of judgement for which he’s been systematically victimised by the Crown.”
It sounds as though he is allowing for the possibility that Griffin may have indeed acted willfully, unless he’s referring to the “misheard the radio” excuse. I don’t know. Limbo is confident nonetheless, fixing Griffin with a firm expression that says “trust me in this.”
Either way it doesn’t matter because Judge Katerina Rose (Zienia Merton) denies Ridley’s application for dismissal which means Griffin will stand trial on the misconduct charge. Once again, as in S01E01, Ridley eyes Steel with a lovely semi-amused, semi-challenging glance. I think even though Ridley is miffed he didn’t get his way on the dismissal application he still enjoys battling Steel one-on-one.
Reciting the Police Oath
The Crown vs. Griffin is underway. It is day seven and Steel’s junior Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) questions Griffin’s and Bentley’s boss Sergeant Howard Drake (Conor McIntyre). Earlier we learned that Alesha had experienced a traumatic attack in a previous episode, so she may have some issues with her confidence.
She looks very nervous as she pauses for a sip of water before questioning Sergeant Drake, and Ridley takes immediate notice. Ridley looks amused by the whole thing which isn’t very nice. His expression is 100% “smug snake.” I love that look even though it is pretty rotten of him to gloat.
Of course Ridley thinks her agitation is going to work out in his favor. It doesn’t. Alesha does an excellent job of showing the jury how Griffin’s behavior, if proven, is a prime example of “malice and ill will” by getting Drake to read from the Police Oath.
“I do solemnly and sincerely
declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady the Queen in the office of Constable, without favour or affection, malice or ill will.”
Griffin’s tendency to leave homophobic leaflets in gay officers’ lockers certainly runs contrary to the oath he took. That all garners a concerned look from Ridley.
Cross-Examining the Coroner
Next Alesha examines Coroner Oswald Spear (Nicholas Blane) who testifies that PC Bentley bled to death from a gun shot wound severing his femoral artery. Had PC Griffin been there in time to administer first aid, PC Bentley’s chances of survival would have increased.
Ridley cross examines: “PC Bentley’s chances of survival would have increased, you say. But not certain?” He has a look of mock innocence as he coyly intones “not certain”. The coroner says it is impossible to be certain. Yet, as Ridley notes, he is certain of the cause of PC Bentley’s death.
Ridley reminds the jury that it was a (now deceased) drug dealer who shot PC Bentley, “Bullet from a gun shot by Ade Young,” he says while gesticulating with his hand to hammer home the point with each word.
Ridley then gets the coroner to admit that PC Griffin did not cause any harm to PC Bentley nor can anyone know if PC Bentley would have survived had he been there to administer aid. The prosecution team seem a bit worried now.
Blurry CCTV Footage
They are soon given even greater cause to worry. The CCTV footage that the young PC Barney Goodison (Will Beer) had handed over is very blurry and grainy, so Ridley challenges its admissibility.
“M’lady, this footage is such poor quality. It’s blurred and grainy. It really ought to be excluded under Section 78 of PACE.”
He tells the truth. The footage as shown is so blurry that you can’t be certain that it is PC Griffin….even though it is totally PC Griffin.
Steel argues that this is the first time the defense have raised the issue, which indicates Ridley timed it for maximum effectiveness. It is because of such stunts that he earned the sobriquet “Limbo.”
Ridley stands firm, “Section 78 is clear: where there is little or no probative value to the evidence, but the potential for serious prejudicial effect, the evidence ought not to be admitted. It’s simply not safe to leave this footage to a jury, m’lady. The quality’s not good enough to be certain it’s my client.”
Ridley has a fetchingly snide expression as he says “simply not safe” which makes him look extra patronizing. The judge agrees with him and excludes the CCTV footage as evidence and prohibits any reference to it.
Later, the prosecution try to convince PC Goodison to testify that Griffin asked him to retrieve the footage, but he refuses. It is painfully obvious someone has since gotten to him. He absolutely refuses to testify, so the prosecution’s case is in deep jeopardy. We can safely guess that Ridley knew exactly when Goodison had been “got to” and timed his application for that moment exactly. What a snake!
The Trial Winds to an End
Steel makes a final stab by questioning PC Griffin’s faith. He charges that Griffin, who doesn’t attend any formal church service, isn’t really a deeply spiritual man. He only uses religion as an excuse to justify his homophobia. It is a risky maneuver and doesn’t pay off as Ridley quickly shuts it down. “My lady, I fail to see how the private matter of PC Griffin’s faith is relevant.” The judge stops Steel’s line of questioning which gives Ridley another victory.
The case is nearly over and they make their closing arguments. Ridley: “There is no Good Samaritan law. Put simply, we are not obliged to help one another. Whatever the events of that night, PC Griffin did not commit misconduct.That’s a serious charge with grave consequences. Would it be right to convict a well-respected police officer because a drug dealer killed his colleague? No. I urge you not to convict.”
He makes an impassioned speech. The imploring and cajoling tones in his voice are strong and effective as he reaches out to the jury. I am a curious as to why Ridley doesn’t insist, as his client does, that PC Griffin misheard the radio. It seems he allows for the possibility that Griffin chose to withhold aid. If Griffin broke no existing law through willful inaction, maybe Ridley wants to hammer that point home to the jury…just in case they don’t believe that “misheard the radio” malarkey. Gosh, he’s clever!
The jury return with a result of “not guilty” to the charge of misconduct. PC Griffin is free to go. However, judging from the look on his superior officer Sergeant Drake’s face, Griffin’s exemplary record has been forever tarnished. It is obvious Drake realizes that Griffin viciously left a decent and brave young man to die alone on the street. So while Ridley gets to bask in victory, I don’t think life will ever be the same for PC Griffin who has to live with the shame.
Although a little light on Ridley content this is a very good episode. It handles the complexity and anguish the police must feel knowing one of their own may have done something terrible to a fellow officer.
While we know for certain Griffin deliberately refused to help Bentley, it is obvious why the jury had to find him not guilty. At the end of the day, the Crown failed to prove their case “beyond reasonable doubt” by a long margin.
Granted, it was not their fault as PC Goodison was ultimately the one who dealt the prosecution the final blow by refusing to testify. By running up against the thin blue line and a wily defender, they didn’t stand a chance. We can only hope that PC Griffin will have to suffer the consequences of his inaction through loss of respect by the very police force that protected him in the first place.
Mr. Malahide’s performance is brilliant as the slick Limbo who obviously enjoys the chance to get one over on Steel. His smug facial expressions and silky voice make him the perfect embodiment of a sly defense attorney.
“Limbo” wants to win so he can elevate his already illustrious career while simultaneously sticking it to his favorite nemesis James Steel. He’s a bit of bad’un is Ridley, but he’s a bad’un who is extremely fun to watch.
Gallery, courtesy of RFodchuk