Episode 25: Talking with Human Rights Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

Clive Stafford-Smith OBE  is a cricket-lover who is also one of the leading human rights lawyers in the world. He is the founder of Reprieve, an organization which specializes in defending people facing execution and victims of rendition, extrajudicial detention and torture in the name of counter-terrorism.

As a lawyer practising in the southern United States he personally represented over 300 prisoners sentenced to death: all but six were spared. He won five cases in the (pre-Trump) Supreme Court.

He has secured the release of 80 inmates detained without charges at the American facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, including all the British ones, and is still at work at another seven cases there. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller on their latest cricket-themed podcast.

For information and how you can support Clive’s local cricket club, Broadwindsor, visit: crowdfunder.co.uk/savebroadwindsorcricket


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He sets out his philosophy – and practice – of cricket as an alternative to war, especially between India and Pakistan, and hails the Taliban’s enthusiasm for cricket.  8-11 and 24 minutes He has had a long relationship with Imran Khan, forged in campaigns for victims of drone strikes, 14-18 minutes and repeats Imran’s stark warning of the possibility of a nuclear exchange in the recent hostilities over Kashmir. 18-19 and 21-23 minutes

He sets out ways in which cricket-lovers and other sporting enthusiasts might move human rights forward in different countries, including Dubai, the headquarters of world cricket, where foreign workers are victims of discrimination and exploitation. 50-55 minutes

He describes his amazing experiences playing cricket at Guantanamo (a location not so far mentioned in Wisden’s Cricket Around The World) with the poorly-paid Jamaican workers, 2-7 minutes and how he managed to give the latest scores to cricket-loving inmates despite often bizarre US censorship over numbers. 13-14 minutes

Clive learnt his cricket at Radley College, where his Warden was the inspirational Dennis  Silk, a major figure in English cricket. 36-37 minutes He became the College’s opening bowler despite a teenage struggle against bulimia. He describes this movingly, along with his response to Freddie Flintoff’s recent account of his own struggle with a condition still poorly understood among men. 39-41 minutes

He recalls his long experience of a thriving cricket scene in the United  States, 47-49 minutesparticularly  playing in Atlanta with and against many famous West Indian cricketers. They included Conrad Hunte. He speaks warmly of his ethical personality and his on-field kindness and forbearance with the efforts of his lesser playing colleagues. 42-46 minutes

He recently testified on behalf of Julian Assange in his fight against extradition. He explains the significance of the case and looks forward to welcoming the most celebrated member of the Quito Cricket Club into his local cricket club, Broadwindsor in Dorset. 26-28 minutes He is now trying to save the club from the threat of eviction by the new owners of their ground. 29-35 minutes He gives listeners the chance to donate to the campaign (and purchase an office or title within the club). Henry Blofeld sent such a fierce letter of support that he felt compelled to tone it down slightly. 34 minutes Surprisingly for such a battling lawyer he remarks: “The law’s not a great way to solve anything. I’d rather solve it by the rules of cricket”. 33 minutes

Peter Oborne & Richard Heller

Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast is produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.