Harvill Secker to publish death row lawyer memoir

Harvill Secker has acquired a non-fiction title about the work of British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith over 25 years to save those on death row in the US.

Editor-at-large Rebecca Carter bought UK and Commonwealth rights through Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh, having seen an unedited 600-page manuscript. Walsh said the book is fuelled with "a quiet anger" and is already attracting "tonnes of film interest". It is expected to be published in spring 2013.

Walsh described it as having "as its spine" the case of Briton Kris Maharaj, sentenced to death in Florida in 1986. Stafford Smith began to work with him in the mid-1990s but has as yet been unable to save him from death row because of frustrations with the appeal system. Stafford Smith then weaves in stories of other cases he has worked on, with an element of autobiography as he describes why he decided to devote his life to appealing against the death penalty.

Stafford Smith is also known for his work in orchestrating the release of prisoners with British connections from Guantanamo Bay. Viking will publish in the US.