I was born in London in 1972 into a family which saw history as its canvass. My great aunt was the Communist historian Dona Torr. My grandfather was the Australian shoe designer Kurt Geiger. One uncle had been a professional clown and activist in the actors’ union equity. My other uncle was the Tory MP Tim Renton, later the Chief Whip who toppled Thatcher.
I was educated at Eton College, which I loathed, where I became a supporter or member of successively the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Labour Party and ultimately the Socialist Workers Party. Among my contemporaries were the writers Mark Pilkington and Stephen Brown, the explorer and future MP Rory Stewart, and Dipendra, later the bloody Crown Prince of Nepal.
I studied history at St John’s College, Oxford under the labour historian Ross McKibbin.
Before becoming a barrister, I was an academic historian and sociologist, teaching at universities including Nottingham Trent, Edge Hill, Sunderland University, and Rhodes and Johannesburg Universities in South Africa, and writing a number of books concerning the left and right in history.
I was also a political activist, taking part in celebrated protests at Welling, Genoa, and the million-strong demonstration against the Iraq War in 2003.
I resigned from the Socialist Workers Party in 2013 after the former leader of that party Martin Smith raped a young woman. I assisted one of the complainants resulting in a disciplinary hearing of the party finding that Smith had a case to answer for sexual harassment.
I have been also been a county-standard middle-distance runner; my memoir Lives Running describes my early running career and my relationships with my father and my children.
As a lawyer, I represent workers in employment tribunals and tenants in housing claims in the county court. My clients have included Dave Smith, chair of the Blacklist Support Group, and the Bank of Ideas, demonstrators who occupied a disused bank at the time of the Occupy movement.