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Lost City

Notts Barrister Christian Weaver Opens Up on the Importance of His New Pocket-Sized Book on Human Rights

21 January 22 words: George White
photos: Ekam Hundal

We chat to Carlton’s Christian Weaver, writer of The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to Your Rights, about his route into law, Kill the Bill, and why it’s so important to protect our freedoms…

We all know we’ve gotta fight for our right to party. The Beastie Boys have been telling us as much for over three decades. Hell, the Government is even willing to tear itself apart for the cause. Yet we also have countless other fundamental rights that we should be fighting for. Rights that can save us a few quid when a shopkeeper is trying to get out of a refund, through to rights that can save our lives when we’re failed by those who are meant to protect us.                                                                           

Christian Weaver, the Carlton-born barrister behind The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to Your Rights, has made it his mission to inform us of all of our freedoms - from hailing taxis to getting our rent deposits back. In his groundbreaking book, Christian is hoping to give us easy access to our rights so that we can make use of them when we need them most. “It was important for me to write this because I wanted people to realise that the law is something that can work with them,” he explains. “The idea is that you can keep it in your car, so if you’re pulled over by the police you can go to your glove compartment, flick to the appropriate page and know your rights. The idea is that if you’re in a store and the shopkeeper is talking nonsense, you can reach to the bottom of your bag and within a minute you’re clued up on your rights.” 

The 27-year-old was inspired to write the book while he was studying law at Nottingham Trent University, realising that there was no simple document for everyday people to access. As a result, many were at risk of being taken advantage of and exploited through no fault of their own. This was something he knew needed to change. “I identified two main issues with other books on law: they were too complicated and too time-consuming. For most people they’re just impenetrable,” Christian says. “So I thought that for people to have any real chance of learning their rights, they need something that is accessible and small - the sort of thing that you can just read as a normal book. Those who need this the most are those that, at the moment, see the law as wildly intimidating. In order for this to work, it had to combat that issue.”

My grandad put up a placard saying, ‘This house won’t be intimidated by racists’. He decided to take matters into his own hands to deal with the problem we were facing

Christian, now a barrister at Garden Court North Chambers representing those disadvantaged by discrimination and inequality, has dedicated his entire life to helping vulnerable people. From providing legal support to anti-discrimination organisations while still at university to working pro-bono to help grieving families through coroner’s courts, he has been standing up for those most in need since before his legal career properly began. The motivation for doing so came from an even younger age - when his grandparents were subject to vile racist abuse. 

“One of my earliest childhood memories is when my grandad had faeces put on his car in a spate of racist attacks. I remember we contacted the police and, for whatever reason, nothing was done about it. And I remember just thinking, ‘Gosh, when you can’t turn to the powers that be in your time of need, what are you meant to do?’” Christian muses. “My grandad put up a placard saying, ‘This house won’t be intimidated by racists.’ He decided to take matters into his own hands to deal with the problem we were facing, and I think that exposed me to the question of what you’re supposed to do when you can’t rely on the powers that be. I’d say that experience was the foundation for all of this.”

Over two decades later and the need for individuals to stand up for themselves - especially those from the more vulnerable groups in society - is still as pressing as ever. Issues such as the Kill the Bill controversy, in which the Government tried to clamp down on citizens’ right to protest, through to the Home Office’s continued demonisation of refugees, have led to a situation that Christian describes as “a slippery slope” - with our rights under more pressure than at any other moment in his lifetime.

If the book is not serving my hometown, those who really inspired me to do this in the first place won’t actually be benefiting from its use

“Often, at a time where there's perceived disruption, disorder or chaos in society, whether it’s COVID-19 or mass protests, the Government will try to increase its power. It will use moments of hysteria as a distraction to get through really harsh policies. However, once things have calmed down and returned to normal, those policies still exist,” he says. “I think right now is a prime example. The Kill the Bill protests are really important as the Government's proposed changes could really curtail the ability to actually protest. When you think of the societal change that has come about from protesting, from women’s rights to awareness of climate change, it is a huge thing in society. And this Government is really trying to smother that. Their rhetoric in terms of refugees is incredibly damaging, too. Politicians are dehumanising refugees, which creates an ‘us versus them’ sentiment. If they were humanised instead, the outlook of so many people would be different.”

This worrying state of affairs has heightened the need for us to brush up on our rights - and Christian wants to help everyone in Nottingham, the “city that I love”, to look out for themselves. From a moving introductory lecture at Bilborough College that inspired a passion for law to extensive support and guidance from Nottingham Law School, our Notts is a place that has shaped his life and his career, and he’s made it his goal to give back. 

“I’m very conscious that the people that I know, the people I grew up around, they’re all in Nottingham,” he says. “If the book is not serving my hometown, those who really inspired me to do this in the first place won’t actually be benefiting from its use. So it’s really important to me for people from Nottingham to have the book as I’m a product of Nottingham.” Thanks to Christian’s passion for protecting the most vulnerable, we now know we have a lot more to fight for than just a right to party.

The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to Your Rights is now available from all major retailers

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