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Kieran Pender

Kieran Pender

Kieran Pender is an Australian writer and lawyer, based in Canberra. He is a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, a visiting fellow at The Australian National University's Centre for International and Public Law and a consultant lawyer at Bradley Allen Love Lawyers. He regularly contributes to Australian Book Review, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and Times Literary Supplement. He was previously based in London, as a senior legal advisor at the International Bar Association.

Kieran Pender reviews 'The Power of One: Blowing the whistle on Facebook' by Frances Haugen

September 2023, no. 457 25 August 2023
There is a paradox in the title of this book, The Power of One, by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. It is an accurate description on one level, because the powerful whistleblowing that led to demands for stronger regulation and accountability in Big Tech was indeed the courageous choice of a lone individual, the author, an American engineer and data scientist. But as the book underscores, Ha ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'August in Kabul: America’s last days in Afghanistan' by Andrew Quilty

September 2022, no. 446 25 August 2022
This book will at times quite literally take your breath away. A deeply reported account of the fall of Afghanistan’s capital, August in Kabul tells the harrowing stories of those who escaped and those who were left behind in the maelstrom of those two weeks between the arrival of the Taliban on 15 August 2021 and the final US flight to depart – at one minute to midnight on 30 August. Compelli ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Butler to the World: How Britain became the servant of tycoons, tax dodgers, kleptocrats and criminals' by Oliver Bullough

August 2022, no. 445 29 July 2022
The ongoing war in Ukraine is not mentioned in Oliver Bullough’s new book, Butler to the World. That is not unexpected: it went to press before Russia invaded Ukraine. But Vladimir Putin’s illegal and reprehensible invasion looms large over this excellent new book about Britain’s role in enabling financial crime. The invasion is an acute example of the real-world consequences of this industr ... (read more)

'Shooting the messengers: How the Collaery case stains our democracy' by Kieran Pender

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
On the first day of March this year, Scott Morrison declared his commitment to democratic principles. ‘My government will never be backward when it comes to standing up for Australia’s national interests and standing up for liberal democracy in today’s world,’ the prime minister told reporters. ‘We can’t be absent when it comes to standing up for those important principles.’ It was a ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Law in a Time of Crisis' by Jonathan Sumption

January–February 2022, no. 439 22 December 2021
When World War II began, a defence regulation was issued in Great Britain that enabled the home secretary to imprison anyone who they reasonably believed had hostile associations. One such interned individual, Robert Liversidge, objected to his detention and challenged the validity of the home secretary’s decision. In the subsequent case, Liversidge v Anderson, the House of Lords adopted a defer ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Open Minds: Academic freedom and freedom of speech in Australia' by Carolyn Evans and Adrienne Stone with Jade Roberts

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Across the Anglosphere, academic freedom is in crisis. That, at least, is the conclusion one draws from reading conservative newspapers and listening to right-wing politicians. Boris Johnson’s government, concerned about ‘unacceptable silencing and censoring on campuses’, recently announced plans to appoint a ‘free speech champion’ for British universities. In 2019, Donald Trump signed a ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks exposés' edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
At the time of writing, Julian Assange – an Australian citizen – is detained at Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in Thamesmead on the outskirts of London. Belmarsh is a high-security facility; Assange’s fellow inmates are terrorists, murderers, and rapists. The WikiLeaks founder is being held in solitary confinement, permitted out of his cell for just one hour each day. His crime? Assange is ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Fake Law: The truth about justice in an age of lies' by The Secret Barrister

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
The timing was apt. In September, Fake Law: The truth about justice in an age of lies – written by pseudonymous British writer ‘The Secret Barrister’ – was published in Australia. The same month, President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States following the untimely death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. From two legal systems that have historically infl ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'The Road' by John Martinkus and 'Too Close to Ignore' edited by Mark Moran and Jodie Curth-Bibb

September 2020, no. 424 21 August 2020
It is a damning – if not altogether surprising – indictment on our public discourse that the average Australian knows far more about political and social developments on the other side of the world than about those occurring in our ‘near abroad’. It takes just fifteen minutes to travel in a dinghy from the northern most island in the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea. The flight from Darwi ... (read more)

'Law’s #MeToo moment: Effecting change in the legal profession' by Kieran Pender

August 2020, no. 423 27 July 2020
There is a senior partner at my firm who famously harasses young women particularly when he has been drinking at social events. I was groped on two separate occasions. Nothing was done about it the first time I reported it. I did not report it the second time. A barrister attempted to rape me after a conference. I successfully fought him off – dress torn, bruised. I did not report it. My caree ... (read more)
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