18. Clive Stafford Smith; Anti-Death Penalty Activist on Guantanamo Bay, Pakistan with Imran Khan, the Jordanian Secret Service and All-Night Parties in New Orleans - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 18
May 21 , 2018

18. Clive Stafford Smith; Anti-Death Penalty Activist on Guantanamo Bay, Pakistan with Imran Khan, the Jordanian Secret Service and All-Night Parties in New Orleans

The injustice of the death penalty is something to which Clive Stafford Smith, one of Britain and America’s most powerful lawyers, has dedicated his whole working life. Clive describes Guantanamo Bay (staff have a McDonald’s!), death rows across America, his travels to the families of prisoners across the Middle East and his campaigning against drone strikes in Pakistan with cricketer turned politician Imran Khan. This fascinating insight into a world not often seen is also surprisingly up-beat, with the wit and warmth of a man who loves to ‘work hard and play hard’ never far from the surface.



On this episode we cover:


How Wikipedia describes him

One of Britain’s most powerful lawyers

How his mum inspired him to help people who are less fortunate

Representing people who are hated

Krishna Maharaj, the British Trinidadian businessman imprisoned in Florida Death row

The Columbian drug cartels

Exonerating innocent people in capital cases

How some US police feel frame crime suspects

‘The worse the crime the more obvious explanation’

Representing serial killer and paedophile Ricky Langley

Lorelei Guillory – mother of murdered boy Jeremy Guillory

What motivates him to represent death row inmates

His fantastic job

His 36 trips to Guantanamo

Representing about 88 of prisoners in Guantanamo


McDonald’s and golf courses

Offending the US Army

The decent people in Guantanamo

How Trump is deranged

The 23 people languishing in Guantanamo

Last Resort by the Two Magpies Theatre in Bridport

A future vision of Guantanamo as a visitor centre

Concentration camps near Berlin

The books that are banned in Guantanamo (including Jack and the Beanstalk!)

The second largest landmine field

The future of Cuba

Cuba’s new president Miguel Diaz Canel

The ‘madman in the White House’

Growing up in Cambridge

His mother’s work at King’s College Cambridge

Moving to the US age 19

Finding out people on death row have no right to lawyers

Loving his life in New Orleans

Mardi Gras

New Orleans Jazz Festival

Setting up a death penalty trial office

The prisons he has visited across America

Angola Prison in Louisiana

Mississippi blues players

Describing death row

Don Cabana – the decent warden in Mississippi

The BBC documentary about death-row inmate Edward Johnson, who he was representing, Fourteen Days in May by Paul Hamann

‘managing to get an innocent person executed at a young age’

Diagnostic and Classification Centre in Georgia

The electric chair

Obama’s mistakes

Attending a Ku Klux Klan

The Assassination Programme of the White House

‘Terror Tuesday’


Concerns about the Trump administration

‘We are all better than the worst 15 minutes of our lives’

Preferring not to represent innocent people

How we all do despicable things

His new book about his father being bi-polar

Mental health disorders

Alain de Botton

How we will all ask each other ‘how are you mad’?

Travelling around the Middle East to find prisoner’s families

Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan

His terrifying detainment by the Jordanian Secret Service

Being interrogated by the head of Secret Service

Being in Pakistan with Imran Khan

How Imran wont play for Clive’s local cricket team in Dorset (Mapperton Marauders!)

Travelling to Waziristan to protest against drone strikes

US drone strikes hitting schools and funerals

The 16 year old who was killed after their meeting

Asking the White House not to kill them

The terrible driving skills in Pakistan

Why the chaos was caused by the West

Tony Blair

‘You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb it into peace’

The conflict in Syria

What politicians really should be doing about conflict in the Middle East

Reasons to be cheerful

How the charity is funded

Running a charity with strong principles

Three months in Corsica – aka the ‘happy’ story at the end

Writing his new book

Learning the drums through his son

John Bonham and Led Zeppelin

Corsican goat-herders with guns

The unfortunate story about the family dog

Having a theme tune for each capital case he takes on

His appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs

His wild nights of partying in New Orleans

His awful dancing