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Justice: By Order of the Magistrates (ITV 15 Oct 1971, with Ronald Leigh Hunt)



A custody battle is at the heart of By Order of the Magistrates. Harriet is sweet talked into taking on the case of David McGuire who thinks the mother of his two boys is a slattern (and very much appears to be).

At the end of the day it’s the welfare of the kids that is the most fact and Mrs McGuire is clearly not the slightest bit interested in looking after her children. The McGuires have been separated for three years and Mr McGuire has provided for the children since but has clearly become concerned at the road his children appear to be going down (indeed the episode opens with the oldest McGuire boy John appearing in the magistrates court on a charge of theft). It’s clear

A typically strong episode from Edmund Ward (creator of The Main Chance and co-creator of this series), Ronald Leigh-Hunt, appearing as barrister for Mrs McGuire turns in a great performance, a slight down at heel air of dishevelment at odds with his usual urbane appearance.

The magistrates are not painted in a very good light, they are more concerned with getting home early than spending any length of time deliberating. Their amateur status is made plain as is the fact that they would sooner leave it to the professionals and the appeal court.

classic quote
A bit of advice for you Mr McGuire, keep your hands to yourself and leave the violence for the lawyers.

production details
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Friday 15 October 1971

Writer: Edmund Ward / Production Design: Vic Symonds / Director: Tony Wharmby

Series: Justice Season 1 Episode 2

Margaret Lockwood as Harriet Peterson
Ronald Leigh-Hunt as George Bryant
Eric Woolfe as Simon
John Collin as David McGuire
Rosemarie Dunham as Sandra McGuire
Monica Grey as Jane Hilary
Alan Guy as John McGuire
Laurence Hardy as James Wesley
John Bryans as Arthur Bollingtton
Sylvia Barter as Miss Straker
Llewellyn Rees as Judge in Chancery
Clifford Cox as Clerk to the Magistrates