The Push: Murder on the Cliff, Channel 4 review: Rare, powerful chance to watch a murderer on trial

Fawziyah Javed was murdered by her husband in 2021
Fawziyah Javed was murdered by her husband in 2021 - Family handout/Police Scotland/PA

For better or worse, criminal trials in England and Wales are not televised. Hence the reconstruction with actors that was The Jury: Murder Trial, broadcast last week. But for several years the Scottish High Court, where appropriately in the public interest, has been demystifying the legal process by letting in cameras.

A documentary, The Murder Trial, won a Bafta in 2014. Now The Push: Murder on the Cliff (Channel 4) has met the same high standard. In two measured episodes it followed last year’s trial for murder of Kashif Anwar, accused of pushing his pregnant wife Fawziyah Javed off Arthur’s Seat in 2021 when they visited Edinburgh from their home in Leeds.

There was no forensic evidence to draw on so Alex Prentice KC (who also appeared in The Murder Trial) had to construct the prosecution from other material. That he did so was almost entirely down to the enterprise of the victim. Javed, a solicitor, found within months of marrying that she was subject to coercive control.

So she used her legal training to record every abuse, and as she lay dying made sure to tell the police officer who found her that she’d been pushed. With the camera often on Anwar in the dock, this might easily have felt voyeuristic, but judge, barristers and witnesses set a sober tone.

It feels worth mentioning that The Push was commissioned, produced and directed by women, which perhaps explains why Javed’s dignified mother, Yasmin, gave of herself so openly. To fill in the back story, the film visited Leeds, where Javed’s doting uncle said he had his doubts about Anwar from the start. “She was like a Bentley Continental, one of my favourite cars,” he said. “He was like a Nissan Micra.”

Anwar’s family and supporters, filmed outside the court, came across as cold at best, at worst intimidatory. Carefully aware that multiculturalism was also on trial, The Push concluded in a mosque that towers over a standard terrace in Leeds.

Inside, an imam told the assembled that domestic violence has no place in Islam. Chillingly, Anwar thought otherwise. “You’re not a man,” Javed recorded him shouting. “Start behaving like a woman. You’re not being that British woman, it’s not going to work.” He’s now doing life, having taken hers and her unborn baby’s.