Stephen Jakobi


Author and Retired Human Rights Lawyer

Welcome! My name is Stephen Jakobi and Pen and Sword published my first true crime book IN THE MIND OF A FEMALE SERIAL KILLER at the end of November 2017: it is a study of what we know about four violent British female killers who were active between the 1870s and the 1920s.

I am a member of the Crime Writers Association, spent almost all my working life as a practising solicitor, retiring at the age of 71, and I am passionately interested and frustrated by the current state of politics (lifelong Liberal Democrat) so my blog will be about books (mine and others) and political observations (again, mine and others). I live in Richmond Surrey with my wife, Sally and we are lucky enough to have our children and grandchildren nearby. I must put in a word for my talented web designer and oldest grandson, Nat. Any mistakes here are mine, not his.

After public school, National service and Cambridge, I was earmarked by my family to take over the running of the family firm, a major secondary aluminium company, with my cousin. I decided to learn the trade through the steel industry, before joining the firm at board level. I became a graduate trainee with Steel Company of Wales in Port Talbot and Swansea, and for 2 years worked on the shop floor and became a materials engineer at what is now Swansea University before returning to London as a manager. I was about to join the family firm when it was taken over and there was obviously no future in it for me. I had always wanted to be a lawyer since public school and after qualifying as a solicitor became a disputes lawyer mainly specialising in personal injury. For over 25 years I was a partner, eventually senior partner in a small Central London firm.

In 1990 I became involved in a cause celebre involving 2 teenagers arrested in Thailand for drug smuggling and eventually took over the conduct of the defence of the elder one, Karyn Smith. The high-profile battle to free her which eventually resulted in her release attracted an increasing number of other clients in trouble with the law overseas and in 1992 I formed Fair Trials , an organisation specialising in supporting cases of merit involving citizens facing injustice out of country. Finding it impossible to continue in private practice and acting for these new specialist clients I retired from private practice in 1993, when Karen Smith was freed.

Working initially from my son's bedroom to save overheads, I devoted myself full- time as chief executive of Fair Trials, which became a European Union organisation, and was legal adviser to the European Parliament on civil liberties and human rights matters, in particular on Guantánamo Bay. I retired from the directorship at the age of 71 in 2006. Although I have nothing to do with the governance or management of an organisation which has gone from strength to strength since my retirement I remain founder and senior patron. I was given an OBE for my work in 2005.


I started writing after retirement, and my memoirs about life as the Founder of the human rights charity Fair Trials FREEING THE INNOCENT was published after my 80 th birthday in 2015.

I have just been commissioned and I am in the course of writing a book on a number of miscarriages of justice during the great Victorian arsenic hysteria involving working-class women tried by a middle-class male justice system, which should be out by the end of the year.