Much has been made of how the two girls in the Zoffany painting inspired my writing of Belle. As important to me was the invisible third person in the painting, the man who put them there in terms of such equality: Lord Chief Justice Lord Mansfield. From the outset I went in search of the historical Lord Mansfield and I found him between two judgements....
Today, the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill has published its comprehensive analysis of the draft Bill, and has forcefully demonstrated the Bill's deficiencies in key areas. The Committee's report provides a strong basis for amendment of the Bill, to pull its focus back to the victims it seeks to protect and to the exploitation it seeks to prevent.
It's a film with little to seriously unsettle the viewer. Most 12 Years audiences will be expecting two-and-a-quarter hours of high-calibre spectacle on the subject of how slave-owners in USA's pre-Civil War southern states mercilessly mistreated their human "possessions". And this is precisely what they get. It's confirmational stuff.
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is explicit in stating that no-one shall be held in slavery or servitude. And yet, 65 years on, it is this very evil that continues to confront our society. It is happening in our streets, in our communities, and across the world... Our primary objective is to deter and disrupt the activities of those who are involved in these despicable crimes.
The truth is that this case, though extreme, is far from isolated. Modern day slavery is on the rise. Human beings - especially women and children - are being trafficked into and within the UK to work as labourers, domestic servants, prostitutes, cannabis farmers, forced beggars and a range of other jobs.