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Justice: A Duty to the Court (ITV 14 Jan 1972, with Barbara Jefford)



In the final episode of the first season A Duty to the Court, Harriet Peterson is asked to defend Joyce Ramsdell who is accused of murdering her first husband using poison as her weapon of choice. Joyce has very quickly remarried. The family doctor (also a close friend of the dead husband) had passsed a verdict of heart failure but an anonymous letter had led to the police to investigate and eventually exhume the body. It was found to contain an excessive amount of poison. The doctor and Ramsdell’s solicitor are convinced that her new husband is behind the anonymous letter – keen to take over Joyce’s considerable fortune.

The case gets murder when Harriet gets her hands on a letter between Joyce and her husband (sent by the same anonymous source) that if proves to be admissible in court could very much prove her guilt. The prosecution has already seen the letter but believed it to be inadmissible and instead gave it to Harriet. Harriet faces an incredibly difficult decision – a duty to the court or a duty to her client. Harriet, not that there is any ever doubt, chooses duty to the court and her client is then found guilty.

After a few midseason episodes pushing the relationship with Dr Ian Moody he has actually been off the radar for the last couple. Almost as the production team couldn’t make up their mind whether they wanted to pursue Harriet’s personal life or not.

We do learn a little more about the circumstances surrounding Harriet’s divorce and the fact that her husband James Kirby served three years for embezzlement and Harriet worked double time to pay off his debts. We did of course get to meet “Jimmy” in the opening episode The Most Important Thing of All and knew he had been in prison but this new info added a little more to our knowledge of Harriet’s life.


production details
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Friday 14 January 1972 at 9.00pm

Writer: Edmund Ward / Production Design: Jane Martin / Director: James Ormerod

Series: Justice Season 1 Episode 13

Margaret Lockwood as Harriet Peterson
Barbara Jefford as Joyce Ramsdell
Percy Herbert as Supt Kellaway
Peter Cellier as Giles Maxwell
John Westbrook as Jonathan Osmond QC
Robert Cartland as Edward Hallam
John Wyse as Henry Bottesford
Carleton Hobbs as Mr Justice Bosanquet
Michael Beint as Dr Connor
Desmond Jordan as James Ramsdell
Michael Fleming as Daniel Reeve
Lindsay Campbell as Stipendiary Magistrate
Ron McCormick as Clerk of the Court


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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