Saturday, 29 March 2008

If this is Justice - Then I am a Banana!

The whole of Homeward has been shocked by the sentence handed down by Judge Jeffreys in The Badfort News libel case.

In court, Judge Jeffreys declared "I am afraid, that your actions, Mister Hateman, demand the severest penalties. I order that you return Uncle's stolen paintings, that The Badfort News print an apology on it's front page and that you must personally perform 100 hours of community the Black Tom Brewery."

At this, there were gasps in the gallery at the leniency of the sentence and shouts of "What no Jail time?"

Amidst angry cries for justice, Judge Jeffreys ordered the court to be cleared.

On the Court steps Uncle declared "If this is justice - then I am a banana!"

Someone in the crowd shouted "Well you eat enough of them!"

At this, Uncle stomped off.

The Badfort News have printed an apology on their front page.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Crown Court - The Verdict

Clerk of the Court: Will the foreman please stand. Just answer this question yes or no. Have you reached a verdict upon which you are all agreed?

Foreman: Yes.

Clerk of the Court: Do you find the accused, Beaver Hateman, guilty or not guilty?

Foreman: Guilty!

Clerk of the Court: And that is the verdict of you all?

Foreman: Everyone, except ‘Red’ Dwarf over there – I knew he would be difficult about it. I think he’s a commie.

Judge Jeffreys: Well, I must say you took your time about it – I expected you to find him guilty quicker than that.

Foreman: Well, we just wanted one more night in that lovely hotel – it ain’t often you get a nice holiday like this…

Judge Jeffreys: Enough! It is now my duty to pass sentence.

Clerk of the Court: Will the prisoner stand.

At this point Mister Hateman put on a tatty dressing gown and attempted to walk out of the court. He was stopped and subdued by two guards.

Mister Hateman: How come you can see me?

Judge Jeffreys: Can someone please explain to me what the prisoner thinks he is playing at?

Uncle: If I might cast some light on his actions M’lud?

Judge Jeffreys: Yes, please, that would be most helpful.

Uncle: Mister Hateman is under the illusion that he is wearing the missing Wizard’s Dressing Gown - thus rendering him invisible. We deliberately let it be known that we were sending it to the dry cleaners in the knowledge that Mister Hateman would attempt to steal the item of clothing, again. This he did, but he was unaware that we had substituted a copy – with no magical powers whatsoever.

Judge Jeffreys: I see, found guilty and then an attempt to evade justice using the magical powers that he had earlier denied the existence of. This is very serious, indeed. I shall have to contemplate the severest penalties for these crimes. I will pass sentence tomorrow, after due consideration.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 14

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Members of the Jury, you have now heard all the evidence that is to be given in this court case, and you have had the benefit of speeches from two very able and experienced counsel. It is now your duty to decide the facts of the case and it is my duty to decide the law. As for the law, I can safely tell you that the allegations contained in the article were libellous unless they were true.

Of course, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury it is for you to decide whether it was true or not. In law the libel was defamatory in that it was calculated to bring Uncle into public ridicule and would damage him in his professional capacity. The defendant admits publishing the document and admits that it is a defamatory libel, but he denies that he is guilty on the basis that he was justified in writing what he did. The issue then is did Uncle attack Mister Hateman without due cause and provocation, as reported in the article.

Plainly there is a direct contradiction in evidence – how do you decide who is telling the truth?

Mister Hootman has suggested that you should have no regard for Uncle’s fine personal and public record. Now, with all due respect to Mister Hootman, this is quite wrong. Such a record is a factor to be considered when you weigh the evidence. He is an elephant of immense achievement and reputation. Men, women and elephants who enjoy the respect of society are often very conscious that they can lose that respect by a single sideways step from the straight and narrow path of proper conduct.

You might think it very improbable that Uncle did what is alleged; knock Mister Hateman about, a bit, if so you should allow his good conduct to weigh the scales of justice in his favour.

The defence must prove beyond reasonable doubt, that Uncle did attack Mister Hateman in this uncharacteristic manner, and you must convict the defendant if you are not sure. Now that, Ladies and Gentlemen, of the jury is the test. Not much of one really.

As for all the talk of magic and fantasy, I ask you to bear in mind, as my friend, the noble astrophysicist, Mister Eric Idle has said, that you are standing on a planet that's evolving and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour, that's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, a sun that is the source of all our power. Furthermore, the sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see are moving at a million miles a day in an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour, of the galaxy we call the "Milky Way".

Of course, our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars and it is a hundred thousand light years side to side. Apparently, it bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick, but out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide. Also, we are thirty thousand light years from galactic central point and we go around every two hundred million years.
Members of the Jury, it is also important to note that, our galaxy is only one of millions of billions in this amazing and expanding universe.

I hope that has cleared up that point.

In conclusion, I need only say that if you are convinced of the dubious allegations of the defendant then you must bring in a verdict of not guilty but if on the other hand if you think it is a complete and utter fabrication you must find him guilty.

Now members of the jury will you kindly retire and consider your verdict. Should take you about five minutes, then we can all have tea.

Clerk of the Court: All stand.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 13

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Let us here your speech for the Defence, Mister Hootman.

Mr Hootman: If it please M’lud. Members of the jury, we have never sought to undermine the gravity of the accusations made in the newspaper, of which Mister Hateman is the proprietor. The only possible justification is that which we have pleaded, namely that they are true. You have seen the accused, Mister Hateman, and perhaps formed the opinion that he is, as my learned friend has suggested, a man of uncertain temper. But that is not what he is on trial for, members of the jury. You must ask yourselves not whether he is impulsive and hot tempered but whether he is a witness of the truth.

Now, as for Uncle’s doubtful public service – that is completely irrelevant. His activities as the owner of Homeward have no bearing on the vicious attack on innocents described in The Badfort News.

I must remind you, members of the jury, you must not allow Uncle’s position to bedazzle you. Your sole interest is, of course, the facts. A public reputation may command respect in some quarters but it also presumes certain standards that Uncle falls well short of.

Uncle is a tyrant, whose staff stand so in awe of him that they are prepared to do his bidding in everything he asks. Including perjuring themselves in the witness stand if he so demands.

Not once did Mister Hateman falter in his assertion that he was attacked by Uncle. That what took place did take place.

We are supposed to believe that Mister Hateman just blatantly walked into the Treasury to take Uncle’s fortune – is this believable? The prosecution claim that he made used of some absurd garment of invisibility. This claim is part of the establishment’s use of magic and fantasy to, once more, oppress the masses. It has been foisted upon us in order to deceive us about the true nature of the world we live in – one of endless labour for the bosses. To be deceived about the truth of things and so to be in ignorance and error and to harbour untruth in the soul is a thing no-one should consent to.

Arise ye workers from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We'll change henceforth the old tradition
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear
E'er the thieves will give up their booty
And give to all a happier lot.
Each at the forge must do their duty
And we'll strike while the iron is hot.

Strike now Comrades – declare our leader not guilty!

Judge Jeffreys: Thank you Mister Hootman – it is nice to end the day on a song. Tomorrow I shall sum up for the jury.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 12

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: It has not been possible to ascertain the identity of the person who threatened the jury, however, I have ordered that the Badgertown Police undertake around the clock protection for the jury – there shall be no more attempts at fixing this trial. Mister Badger, Can we hear the closing speech for the prosecution?

Mr Badger: Yes, your honour. Members of the Jury, we have heard differing accounts of the events that took place on that fateful day in the Treasury. Uncle denies the Badfort News's version unequivocally. His manner may be brusque at times but you must not let this blind you. He comes from an old fashioned school where the principal tenet is uncompromising honesty and we can be sure that he will invariably tell the truth.

A libel is a remark calculated to injure the reputation of someone by bringing him into hatred or contempt. Mister Hateman has pleaded justification – meaning that what he published was true, and it was in the public interest that it should be published.

As for the matter of justification you must ask yourself – What grounds did the accused have for making these allegations? I think that you will have observed that Mister Hateman is a man of uncertain temper, given to emotional outbursts, when he finds himself at a disadvantage. He has a long held grudge against the owner of Homeward, envious of his status, power and wealth.

Caught red-handed, attempting to steal from our great benefactor, he invented the spurious defence that he was a mere lost tourist – who happened to be wearing a dressing gown of invisibility! Are we to believe that he had not knowingly made use of its powers ? or are we to believe, as he now claims, that the magical arts are a nonsense. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I think that we are all aware that we live in a magical kingdom. Magic is a natural part of our lives, we have all experienced the strange places within Homeward, the magical events that happen here. These are not merely a fact of life, they are the cornerstone of the way in which our world operates. To claim that they are used, in someway, to bolster the establishment is not only heretical but foolhardy and dangerous – that way lies anarchy!

Homeward – this land of long shadows on tower rooftops, warm koolvat, sinking parades, fairy lovers and - as Uncle, himself, has said – “dwarf’s cycling on their borrowed bikes, to pay their rent, through the morning mist."

To protect all this, my friends, you must find Mister Hateman guilty!

Judge Jeffreys: Thank you Mister Badger, tomorrow we shall here the closing speech from the defence.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 11

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: There has been some damage to the witness box following the removal of Friday’s witness, however as there are no more witnesses it is my intention to move onto the closing speeches….

Jury Foreman: S’cuse, I, M’lud, but we been got at…

Judge Jeffreys: Pardon? This is not the time for you to speak, yet…

Jury Foreman: Well, I just thought you would want to know someone tried to nobble us…

Judge Jeffreys: Nobbled?

Clerk of the Court: Your honour, I think that the Foreman of the jury means that someone has tried to influence the verdict of the jury

Judge Jeffreys: In what manner?

Jury Foreman: Well first he said it was our duty as comrades, for the sake of the revolution, to make sure Mister Hateman was found not guilty and we told him where to get off…

Judge Jeffreys: I should think so to!

Jury Foreman: Then he offered us loads of money and casks of Black Tom.

Judge Jeffreys: Disgraceful!

Jury Foreman: Well to be honest, we was tempted…but we don’t want to rub the landlord up the wrong way…

Judge Jeffreys: Ahem! Quite so, quite so, then what happened?

Jury Foreman: Then he said if Mister Hateman weren’t quitted he would smash our heads in.

Judge Jeffreys: Outrageous! What did this man look like?

Jury Foreman: Well he had a big bushy false beard, a wig, and dark glasses so we ain’t to sure…but he was rough lookin’ and wearing a sackcloth robe…he also said you shouldn't be making us work on a Bank Holiday...

Judge Jeffreys: Oh very well!, I shall adjourn, for the day, whilst investigations are made…

Friday, 21 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 10

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: I believe, Mister Hootman that you wish to call an expert witness?

Mr Hootman: That is correct M’lud – I would like to call Mister Joey Beadle.

Mister Beadle is duly sworn in.

Mr Hootman: You were a Member of the World Wizard Association?

Mr Beadle: I was - but I left, they did not like the way I exposed the way that their tricks are performed.

Mr Hootman: I see, and Wizard Blenkinsop is a senior member of that organisation?

Mr Beadle: He is.

Mr Hootman: Now, the matter of this Wizard’s Dressing Gown – what is your opinion of the claims made for its properties?

Mr Beadle: It is nonsense – mere sleight of hand and other chicanery.

Mr Hootman: I see, so the idea that someone could use it to gain entrance to the Homeward Art Gallery and Treasury is a fantasy?

Mr Beadle: Utter fantasy! – but, I am not surprised that these claims might be made. It is in the interests of the establishment to maintain the illusion that magic exists in this world. It keeps the populace from uprising against the conditions of their life if they believe in the other-worldly, and of course there is a whole industry that is dependant on myths and legends, books, films, computer games – all putting money in the pockets of capitalists like Uncle…

Mr Hootman: Quite so, quite so, no further questions M’lud. That closes the case for the defence.

Mr Badger: Is it not true that you have never been an official member of the World Wizard Association?, that in fact you no qualifications and have done great harm to a noble trade?

Mr Beadle: I don’t know how you can call trickery, Noble!

Mr Badger: Is it not the case that you used the letters M.W.W.A, without a shred of claim to them, in order to take money under false pretences whilst running a so-called School for Wizardry?

Mr Beadle: I was loved by my pupils…they used to sing “All honour to Joey Beadle, The chief of the Wizard band….”

Mr Badger: So it is alright for people to believe in magic as long as they are lining your pocket?

Mr Beadle: Em, well, look I was exposing the tricks…

Mr Badger: That is not what your ex-pupils say, they were led to believe that you would be teaching them real magic.

Mr Beadle: Well it is hardly my fault if they misunderstood…

Mr Badger: Is it not true that Wizard Blenkinsop had been impressed by your enthusiasm for the profession, that you now disparage? Rather than expose and disgrace you he kindly offered you the position of clerk and general helper?

Mr Beadle: Yes – what sort of position is that though, for a man of my skills – the lowest of the low. He taught me nothing!

Mr Badger: So, you are a Master of the Arts of what you describe as trickery – as a self confessed con-man why should we believe anything you say?

Mr Beadle: At least it is real magic!

Mr Badger: Show us some magic then Mister Beadle!

Mr Beadle: Er…oh …very well, I shall take this double page of the Badfort News and glue the two sides together. You, Mister Badger, can have a go with the glue brush so that you can be certain there is no fake. Now, I am going to do something wonderful. I am going to change this heavily glued double sheet into what it was before: a double sheet of newspaper with no glue on. This is extremely difficult, and can’t be done unless you all close your eyes. The necessary power can’t be concentrated unless every eye is shut. Zam, Zam, Zam, Zam, Zam. Paper, paper, change your sheet into a double form so neat. Open eyes everybody! Trick performed!

Jury Member: Please, your honour, I saw him hide the glued paper in his robe and bring out a fresh sheet!

Mr Beadle: Liar!

Mr Badger: So, you are not even a very good magician are you, Mister Beadle?
I put it to you that the reason you wish to denigrate the magical arts is the fact that you have been such a failure at mastering them!

Mr Beadle: Fiddlesticks – I am going to turn you into a frog for that!

Mr Badger: I wonder why I am not scared of that threat Mister Beadle – oh I know!.. it is because you are rubbish! But Magic and Fantasy are not rubbish, Mister Beadle. Is not all art based upon our imaginings? Do they not provide a means of engagement with reality? We can tie ourselves into endless philosophical knots investigating the odd and potent art that is spun with illusions, but is it not with such stuff as dreams are made on?

Mr Beadle: Can someone help me? I think I have super-glued my hand to the witness box.

Judge Jeffreys: I think that we had better adjourn at this point, in order for Mister Beadle to be extricated from the box. I shall see you all, in my court, on Monday.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 9

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Mister Hootman, who is your next witness?

Mr Hootman: I would like to call Mister Hitmouse, m’lud.

Mr Hitmouse is sworn using a copy of Das Kapital.

Mr Hootman: You are Mister Hitmouse, Chief Reporter of the Badfort News?

Mr Hitmouse: Yep that’s me, intrepid, undercover, campaigning journalist – seeker of the truth.

Mr Hootman: Quite so, and on March the Fifth of this year you printed an expose of Uncle?

Mr Hitmouse: Yes, we printed the truth of the events that had taken place in Uncle’s Treasury – the attack upon my fellow comrades.

Mr Hootman: A carefully researched piece?

Mr Hitmouse: Mine is a noble calling. I am a valiant for truth untainted and undeflected by an otherwise corrupt society. The truth shall out – the people shall be told.

Mr Hootman: Indeed, now much has been made of the skewers found in the bucket at the Museum where the dressing gown is alleged to have been stolen. Do you own many skewers, Mister Hitmouse?

Mr Hitmouse: I have a few…I am a genial man, and I often like to host barbecues for my comrades….they are very fond of kebabs…

Mr Hootman: But you would never consider them as a weapon?

Mr Hitmouse: I am not a man of violence, Sir.

Mr Hootman, Thank you, Mister Hitmouse, no more questions.

Judge Jeffreys: Your witness, Mister Badger.

Mr Badger: (holds up Badfort News of March the Fifth)
Powerful stuff. Or it might be it was true. In fact, none of the contents stand up to scrutiny. One of the basic rules of journalism is to get both sides of the story before running a report. Mister Hootman, Did you speak to Uncle or any of his followers before submitting this article?

Mr Hitmouse: Of course not, what would be the point? He runs a regime of the bourgeoisie and his followers cow-tow to him. You will not get the truth from them.

Mr Badger: I put it to you that unable to muster serious arguments, you resorted instead to distortions, amalgams and ad hominem attacks.

Mr Hitmouse: How dare you! The Badfort News is the voice of the people.

Mr Badger: The voice of you and your cronies you mean! Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury to call them an organization is perhaps giving them too much credit. I doubt they have enough people to fill a telephone booth. They’re a very small sectarian political outfit based Badfort.

Mr Hitmouse: We represent the underclass, fighting to overthrow a vicious…

Mr Badger: Mister Hitmouse, with this sensationalist piece you have managed to take journalism out of the gutter and into the sewer…

Mr Hitmouse: Why you…

(at this point Mister Hitmouse appeared to draw a long thin piece of metal from under his sackcloth robes)

Mr Badger: Nice weather for a barbecue, Mister Hitmouse?

Mister Hootman: If my learned friend has finished can Mister Hitmouse please leave the witness box?

(Mister Hootman, holding Mister Hitmouse very tightly, helped him from the witness box)

Judge Jeffrey: Yes, very well, is he alright?... he has gone very red.

Mister Hootman: Just the heat, M’lud…

Judge Jeffrey: I think that this would be an opportune time to adjourn for the day.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 8

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Mister Hootman, I presume that you will be calling the defendant as your first witness?

Mr Hootman: That is correct m’lud

Mr Hateman swears in profusely.

Mr Hootman: You are Beaver Hateman of Badfort Castle and you are a freedom fighter?

Mr Hateman: That is correct.

Mr Hootman: Let us get to the nub of the evidence. Did you steal a so called ‘magic’ dressing gown?

Mr Hateman: No I did not. I merely borrowed a rather tatty item I found lying about in the museum in order to keep myself warm when I inadvertently found myself locked in.

Mr Hootman: Of course, and something which anyone who found themselves in that position might do in order to survive the dangers of hypothermia. There was no heating in the museum?

Mr Hateman: Do you think that skinflint would have kept the heating on?

Mister Hootman: Quite so, and as for the supposed properties of this dressing gown?

Mr Hateman: A load of nonsense – invisibility my arse!

Judge Jeffreys: I will not have that sort of language in my court.

Mr Hateman: Sorry Boss!

Mister Hootman: Now, I wish to question you on the matter of the paintings – it is claimed that you stole them whilst wearing this garment and that you could not be seen. Is this true?

Mr Hateman: Ha! That’s a good one – I was nowhere near the place – we was celebrating El Comandante’s retirement. We got him a very nice clock and sent it to our fraternal comrades in Cuba. Anyway, we had a day out at the Gallery a few days after they were supposed to have been stolen – they was all there. All rubbish mind you, apart from a few by J Von Tussle.

Mr Hootman: Let us pass on then, to the day that you were assaulted by Uncle….

Mr Badger: Objection M’lud – alleged assault…

Mr Hootman: I beg your pardon, if my learned friend would prefer,… the day of the alleged vicious assault, how did you come to be in the vicinity of Uncle’s Treasury?

Mr Hateman: Well, it was like this you see, we was wandering around Homeward on an investigative tour to discover the inhumane conditions that Unc’s tenants are forced to live in. The contrast was astonishing - dwarfs living in squalor and the high life for their landlord. How the other half lives! Talk about the lap of luxury! I ain’t never seen such ostentatious opulence. Anyway, we got lost in the place – it’s really big you know? I don’t know how he keeps track of all those empty rooms that could house so many poor homeless people…then we found ourselves going down this long slope and suddenly…

Mr Hootman: You were ferociously attacked?

Mr Hateman: Yep, that’s about the long and short of it – terrible it was, we only just got away with our lives.

Mister Hootman; No more questions your honour.

Judge Jeffreys: Mister Badger, you may cross-examine the witness.

Mr Badger: Mister Hateman, is it not true that you have had previous disputes with Uncle?

Mr Hateman: I have had a few run-ins with him – he don’t like being crossed.

Mister Badger: Your political stance is Marxist?

Mr Hateman: I don’t believe my politics come into this.

Mr Badger: Could your attitude not be described as anarchistic?

Mr Hateman: My political philosophy encompasses theories and attitudes that reject compulsory government, the establishment, and support its elimination.

Mr Badger: What is your attitude to Uncle? …does he not represent the establishment to you ?

Mr Hateman: Him? He’s just an old fool – I think that he is profoundly eccentric, a reactionary, a survivor of feudalism and living in the past.
Grasping old devil – sitting on all those paintings. He’s a little fascist – you can’t own great art you know.

Judge Jeffreys: Mister Hateman I don’t think that answer is at all useful and does you no credit. Please keep your temper, you will not impress either myself or the jury by raising your voice.

Mr Badger: When things go bad for you do you have an overwhelming compulsion to lash out? You are a hot-tempered individual?

Mr Hateman: Not at all.

Mr Badger: No? is it not true that you would do anything to embarrass and defame Uncle? Anything, to bring him down to your gutter level ? – including stealing his paintings, taking his money and defaming his character in your propaganda rag?
Is that not true Mister Hateman!

Mr Hateman: Shut your face! You can’t talk to me like that! Guv, he can’t speak to a man of the people…

Mr Badger: No more questions, your honour

Judge Jeffreys: Thank you, will you now, please, take the accused back to the dock. We shall resume proceedings tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 7

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: After the scenes in this court yesterday, I expect today to pass with no further tumult – is that understood? Mister Badger, I notice that you have a number of witnesses that you wish to bring forward to vouch for the good character of Uncle.

Mr Badger: I have, your honour.

Judge Jeffreys: I do not think that is necessary – I am sure that everyone in this court is aware of his immense achievements and reputation.

Mr Hootman: Pah!

Judge Jeffreys: Did you wish to say something Mister Hootman?

Mr Hootman: No your honour, merely clearing my throat.

Judge Jeffreys: Have you any more witnesses for the prosecution, then, Mister Badger?

Mr Badger: One final witness – I know that this is an unusual request, but I should like to call the defence counsel – Mister Hootman!

Judge Jeffreys: It is an unusual request, however, this is an unusual case – so I shall allow it.

Mister Hootman is sworn in.

Mister Badger: Mister Hootman, you have made much, in this case, of what you feel are the dubious properties of the Wizard’s Dressing Gown?

Mister Hootman: Yes, it is a lot of fantastical nonsense!

Mister Badger: This, ladies and gentlemen of the jury – from a ghost!

Gasp from the galleries.

Mister Badger: Can there be a greater figure of fantasy? An incorporeal but ubiquitous, non-quantifiable substance or energy – can one get more supernatural, more fantastical than that?

Mister Hootman: I am not a ghost – I have a well-documented medical condition that makes me a bit wispy and see through. I think it very unkind of you to mock me in this way. My affliction does not stop me from taking part in the struggle for the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community. It just means I cannot do much heavy lifting.

Mister Badger: Ah yes, the struggle for control by the community…the community of Badfort, I presume?

Mister Hootman: We do attempt to offer an alternative to the problems inherent with representative democracy, promoting the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production.

Mister Badger: So, Uncle, being the most well-known entrepreneur, needs to be removed?

Mister Hootman: For the good of the people, yes.

Mister Badger: Are you not the master planner of the Badfort Crowd?

Mister Hootman: No, I am just a good citizen.

Mister Badger: A good citizen does not believe in magic?

Mister Hootman: Certainly not, we must build Utopia in the real world. There is no such thing as magic or the supernatural.

Mister Badger: Do you think that someone, such as yourself, composed of a misty material and able to walk through solid objects can really claim that fantasy holds no place in the material world?

Mister Hootman: Look, I have told you I am not a ghost – if I was, how come all the ghosts in the Haunted Tower hate me so…

Mister Badger: No more questions. That M’lud is the case for the prosecution.

Judge Jeffreys: Thank you Mister Badger, tomorrow you may begin calling the witnesses for the defence, Mister Hootman.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 6

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Mister Badger, I gather that we are to be honoured with a very unusual witness, today – the very person in who’s name we are prosecuting justice?

Mr Badger: Yes, your honour, I would like to call the King of the Badgers.

The King is sworn in.

King: First of all, I would just like to say, you are all doing a splendid job – carry on the good work.

Mr Badger: That is very kind of you, your Majesty. I am sure we will not detain you long – for I am sure you have pressing matters of state to attend to.

King: Well, I have just got the opening of a school to do today – got to be on my best behaviour, some documentary johnnies are following me around - then I can put my feet up and watch “The Bill’…then I think there might be a banquet?

Mr Badger: Quite so, your Majesty. I just need to ask you about your part in the foiling of the alleged raid on Uncle’s Treasury?

King: Quite so, quite so – yes well Uncle asked me to ring up and pretend I needed to borrow some money for a orphan’s home. So I did, and that’s it really – caught old Beaver bang to rights, as they say on “The Bill”…

Mr Hootman: Objection, M’lud, we are here to ascertain the facts not hearsay.

King: Be quiet, or I’ll have you locked up too.

Judge Jeffreys: I don’t think you can actually do that, erm, your Majesty.

King: What’s the point in being King, then?

Mr Badger: Errr, quite, well…so Uncle knew that Mister Hateman was on the premises and would overhear the conversation?

King: Of course he did, you can smell Hateman a mile off even if he is invisible!

Mr Badger: As the sovereign of Badgertown is it your belief that the allegations made in The Badfort News could have the effect of bringing institutions into disrepute thereby destabilising the whole of society?

King: Of course, it was most inflammatory, I ask you? - give them freedom and all they want to do is overthrow their betters!

Mr Badger: Quite so, no further questions, your honour.

King: Right, well I’ll be off then.

Judge Jeffreys: Could you stay, just, a little while longer and answer some questions from Mister Hootman?

King: Oh, alright then – if it is absolutely necessary.

Mister Hootman: Is it not true that most of the time you are hard up and have to cadge money of Uncle?

King: How dare you!

Mister Hootman: Therefore, one must ask how credible a witness is - who is always in debt to the elephant who has caused this case to be heard, and on whom he is wholly dependent in order to maintain his redundant place in society!

King: You cheeky young whippersnapper!

Uproar in court.

Judge Jeffreys: Order!, Order! – as the ushers seem unable to restore order, I think it best if we adjourn for the day.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Red Balloon

This libel trial is most stressful. I cheered myself up by watching one of my favourite movies - The Red Balloon.

It reminds me of my own humble origins. As a child, the only toy I had was a red balloon - I took it with me everywhere. Of course, my pretty balloon did eventually burst - but I still have the little rubber pieces in a special mahogany box. I take them out and look at them sometimes and admit to shedding a little tear for the memory of my young self. Little could I have known then of the great things that I would accomplish in later life. I called the balloon 'Rosebud'.

Unavailable for many years, a fully remastered version of Albert Lamorisse's Oscar-winning short will be available on DVD later this year from Network.

Buy my Biography here

Saturday, 15 March 2008

I am ready for the fight !

There is a very good article about the trial in the Homeward Gazette.

The trial of Beaver Hateman, for criminal libel began this week at the Badgertown Crown Court.

On the steps of the court Uncle made the following statement:

"The total picture of the Badfort News's report is one of deliberate misrepresentations, falsehoods and lies, and is clearly part of the paper's long campaign of sustained attempts to discredit me.

I have involved myself in the affairs of Homeward purely for the purpose of making a contribution to public service.

I believe my experience of various walks of life, including the experience of doing honourable business, has strengthened my ability to make such a contribution. And because I do have such a strong commitment to the ideal of public service, I would like to make it clear that I am taking legal action not simply to clear my own name and reputation of the deeply damaging slurs that have been cast upon me. For there are greater public interest issues at stake here, far more important than my own position.

The slander in this newspaper has been specifically designed to bring the institutions of Homeward into disrepute, thereby planting the seeds of, and fermenting the concept of revolution and the overthrow of the legitimate establishment.

What kind of system would it be replaced with? and who would run it?

The answer is Anarchy ! and the man in charge would be that King of Fools - Beaver Hateman!

A man who holds grievances and grudges of his own and is prepared to bear false testimony about others to further his own bitter agendas.

I have done nothing wrong.

I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes in my years of life as a writer, businessman, and multi-millionaire. No one really understands the heavy burden of responsibilities that I carry - but I am prepared to stand on my record as a decent and honourable one - in Homeward and elsewhere - and to defend it not only before the jury of the courts but before the wider jury of all fair minded people.

If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it.

My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon."

Yes, I think that was a quite an impressive speech, if I say so myself, of course The Badfort News has a different viewpoint altogether on the affair. But no matter - they will be out of business shortly.

Buy my Biography here

Friday, 14 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 5

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Mr Badger: For my next witness I would like to call Mr. Waldovenison Smeare, your honour.

Usher: Call Mister Smeare.

Mister Smeare is duly sworn in.

Mr Badger: You are an artist of some repute, a writer on art, a broadcaster and an authority on the paintings contained in the Homeward Gallery, is that correct?

Mr Smeare: Yes, I have taken a particular interest in the paintings that Uncle has so graciously donated to the Gallery. I am a graduate of, and special lecturer in the subject of Fine Art, at the Royal School of Art in Badgertown, I received the medal…

Mr Badger: Yes, suffice to say eminently qualified in the sphere of artistic endeavour. As you are aware, these paintings went missing on the night of…

Mr Hootman: Objection, M’lud – the defence refutes that claim.

Mr Badger: I shall rephrase the question, the paintings are alleged to have gone missing on the night of February 26th of this year, but when the Badgertown police were called in to investigate the matter they found that the paintings were all there – is that correct?

Mr Smeare: No, that is not true – they had been replaced by cheap and common imitations! – it is immediately obvious to someone with the eye of experience. Many of the paintings that had been taken were ones that I had painted myself. It is ludicrous to suggest that I would not be able to tell my own work from that of unskilled amateur!

Mr Badger: Would it have requires an artist of great skill to make these forgeries?

Mr Smeare: Not great skill, no, just someone with a gift for artistic mimicry.

Shout from the Gallery: Bloomin’ Cheek! (later identified to be Mr. J.Von Tussle)

Judge Jeffreys: Another outburst like that and I shall clear the public gallery!

Mr Badger: No further questions, your honour.

Mr Hootman: Uncle has spent a lifetime building up his art collection has he not, Mister Smeare?

Mr Smeare: That is true, it is quite a collection…

Mr Hootman: Yes, and you would have us believe that he has done this from a sense of civic duty rather than the reality - which is that he regards them as just another investment - sitting on them as if they were shares or premium bonds…

Mr Badger: Objection, M’lud, this is pure hearsay!

Judge Jeffreys: Members of the jury, ignore that last remark.

Mr Hootman: Mister Smeare, is it not true that you rely on the patronage of Uncle for the majority of your income?

Mr Smeare: The fact that he is a collector of my work has no bearing on my expertise as a…

Mr Hootman: Quite so, quite so. I would like the witness to look at Exhibit C, your honour – one of the paintings that has been claimed to have been returned to the Homeward Gallery. It is a painting by Uncle himself of an idyllic country scene. Mister Smeare, you claim that this is a forgery?

Mr Smeare: Indeed, the brushwork and definition of Uncle’s own work is immensely superior to that of this tawdry forgery. It has an absence of the patrician assurance that one would expect in one of Uncle’s paintings. It lacks the elegance, the effeteness, the delicate touch…

Mr Hootman: Remote, aristocratic? – one might say the work of the cosseted? … even dissipated?

Mr Smeare: Those are not the terms that I would use, but this work is clearly the work of some heavy handed toiler of the earth – not someone of privilege and rank.

Mr Hootman: So, would it surprise you to find out that Uncle has actually admitted that the painting is his work?

Mr Smeare: I beg your pardon?

Mr Hootman: I am afraid it is so.

Mr Smeare: It is impossible!....I can only assume that they felt that it would have no value on the black market…um…not that it is not a fine painting…but…I…that is…

Mr Hootman: No more questions, M’lud.

Judge Jeffreys: Very well, we shall adjourn for the weekend and I shall see you all again, in this court, on Monday morning.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 4

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Would you like to call another witness for the prosecution, Mr Badger?

Mr Badger: Yes, your honour, I would like to call Mister A.B.Fox.

Usher: Call Mister A.B.Fox.

Mister A..B. Fox is duly sworn in.

Mr Badger: You are Mister A.B.Fox, of Homeward Castle, formerly an employee of the Wolferton Detective Agency.

A.B.Fox: That is correct, Sir.

Mr Badger: And you are employed by Uncle as his personal detective, is that correct?

A.B.Fox: Yes, Sir.

Mr Badger: I am correct in thinking that you have an exemplary record in the detection of criminal activity and the apprehension of those that indulge in such activities.

A.B.Fox: I have such a reputation, I believe, Sir.

Mr Badger: Ah yes, down these mean streets a fox must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete fox and a common fox and yet an unusual fox. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a fox of honour -- by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best fox in his world and a good enough fox for any world….

Mr Hootman: Objection, M’lud… this is pure conjecture on the part of my learned counsel…

Mr Badger: I was merely attempting to show the good character of the witness M’lud.

Judge Jeffreys: Yes, well I think we have heard enough, please proceed with your questions Mr Badger.

Mr Badger: You were asked by Uncle to investigate the theft of the Wizard’s Dressing Gown?

A.B.Fox: That is correct.

Mr Badger: Whilst searching the museum premises you discovered a number of skewers in the bucket which acts as a means of exit?

A.B.Fox: Yes, I knew skewers to be the weapon of choice of Hitmouse, a member of the Badfort gang, and it was later discovered that they were covered in his fingerprints.

Mr Badger: Ah, quite so, is it possible that they had been left there whilst on some visit to the museum by Mister Hitmouse?

A.B.Fox: Well, they were not there before the theft – they could only have been left there on the evening of the theft.

Mr Badger: What about the defence's argument that Mister Hateman and Mister Hitmouse ‘accidently’ came to be locked in the Museum.

A.B.Fox: Quite frankly, that is ridiculous, we thoroughly searched the Museum that evening – they could only have been hiding and then made use of the stolen article to effect their escape.

Mr Badger: You were present when the art theft was discovered at Homeward Gallery?

A.B.Fox: I was, Sir, and we discovered a scrawled handwritten text that said:
The Tyrant of Homeward - hit him where it hurts!

Mr Badger: Indeed, you recognised it as the hand of Mister Hateman?

A.B.Fox: Yes – I have seen many examples of his handwriting on blackmail notes and the like.

Mr Badger: Thank you Mister Fox, I have no further questions.

Mr Hootman: Is it not true, Mister Fox, that you rely on Uncle for a great deal of your work?

A.B.Fox: He is one of my major clients, yes.

Mr Hootman: So in all the time you have worked for him I expect you have come to understand his paranoia about certain individuals?

A.B.Fox: I do not know what you mean?

Mr Hootman: I mean that he has a pathological hatred of my client, and that as an employee you would be expected to do all you can to put him behind bars ?

A.B.Fox: I merely follow the clues and collect the evidence, it is for others to decide the course of action to be taken.

Mr Hootman: Come, come a clever fox like yourself, you know how to manoeuvre the evidence?

A.B.Fox: I don’t know what you mean.

Mr Hootman: Have you heard the expression “fitting someone up”?

A.B.Fox: If you are implying…

Mr Hootman: You have had many encounters with Mister Hitmouse, have you not?

A.B.Fox: Unfortunately, yes.

Mr Hootman: And in those encounters have you not, on occasion, forcibly taken such items, that Mister Hitmouse uses at the many barbecue parties he holds for the inhabitants of Badfort, for instance…skewers?

A.B.Fox: I have, but these skewers were not being used for culinary purposes they were being used as deadly…

Mr Hootman: So it would be a very easy matter to take them from your copius mackintosh and place them in the bucket?

A.B.Fox: Well, of course, if one were unscrupulous…

Shout from the Gallery: Yeah you stick it to him…bent detective fox!

Judge Jeffreys: If there are any more outbursts like that I shall clear the gallery!
Have you any more questions for the witness.

Mr Hootman: I would just like to ask the witness to look at exhibit A. It is a handwritten article that my client was preparing for his newspaper. A review of a restaurant.

As you can see I have picked out certain words that appeared on the note found in the Gallery.

The Tyrant, of Homeward, is one of the best restaurants what we have ever dined at – a real hit. But my dining companion seemed in pain so I asked him where it hurts. He said only in his wallet !

Is it not true that this note could have been used to forge the note that you claim was written by Mister Hateman?

A.B.Fox: Well yes, but there is no knowing when this article was...

Mr Hootman: No further questions M’lud.

Judge Jeffreys: The we shall adjourn for the day.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 3

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Judge Jeffreys: Before we proceed with the case for the prosecution, Mr Badger, it seems from yesterdays evidence that the magical properties, or lack of, possessed by the Wizard’s Dressing Gown, is of crucial importance in this case. If this gown could be submitted as an evidential exhibit, it would be possible to ascertain the veracity of the claims made for it. Would that not be possible?

Mr Badger: Unfortunately, your honour, the coat sustained some damage during the events at the Treasury. It became coated in treacle and in order for it to be returned for display in Museum it was sent to the dry cleaners. When Uncle’s manservant, The Old Monkey, went to collect it they claimed that the article had already been reclaimed.

Judge Jeffreys: That is most unfortunate, and a very lax manner in which to treat a major item of evidence – I hope searches are being made.

Mr Badger: They are your honour – but so far without success.

Judge Jeffreys: Very well, call your next witness for the prosecution

Mr Badger: I would like to call Wizard Blenkinsop your honour.

Usher: Call Wizard Blenkinsop!

Wizard Blenkinsop is duly sworn in.

Mr Badger: You are Wizard Blenkinsop, of Wizard Glen?

Wizard Blenkinsop: I am.

Mr Badger: Now, is it correct that the dressing gown used by Mister Hateman…

Mr Hootman: Objection M’lud!

Mr Badger: …the dressing gown alleged to have been used by Mister Hateman in these crimes was donated by yourself to the museum.

Wizard Blenkinsop: Yes, perhaps foolishly I thought that it would be the safest place for it, inside a secure display case…

Mr Badger: You told no one of it’s secret powers.

Wizard Blenkinsop: I did not – but unfortunately a rather foolish cat in my employ made a record of the event in his diary.

Mr Badger: But you can confirm it’s magical properties?

Wizard Blenkinsop: Indeed, I can…many are the times when I have had to extricate myself from imprisonment in some Goblin’s lair, or enchantment by a witch.

Mr Badger: But in the wrong hands this could be used for criminal activity?

Wizard Blenkinsop: Without doubt!

Mr Badger: Thank you, I have no more questions for the witness.

At this point the wizard made to leave the witness box…

Judge Jeffreys: We have not finished yet – would you please come back Wizard Blenkinsop.

Mr Hootman: This court has been told of the excellent character of Uncle….

Wizard Blenkinsop: Yes, a fine fellow…

Mr Hootman: Is it not true that he purchased Homeward, from yourself?

Wizard Blenkinsop: Yes, that is true - the upkeep was all getting too much for me….

Mr Hootman: Would you say he paid a fair price?

Wizard Blenkinsop: Certainly fair at the time, of course it is worth a great deal more now, but that is because…

Mr Hootman: Would it not be true to say that the asset was severely undervalued, and he tricked you into paying much less than it was worth?

Wizard Blenkinsop: Not at all, he has merely made the most of it, and discovered new avenues of revenue – I bare him no grudges….

Mister Hootman: No, well, members of the jury, no one likes to admit they have been made a fool of - especially not one who has a high position in society based on their claims to have the powers of the ‘magical arts’…

Wizard Blenkinsop: That is outrageous, I object most strongly to your inference….

Judge Jeffreys: Yes, you must desist in this line of questioning Mister Hootman.

Mister Hootman: Very well, let us move onto your claims regarding this dressing gown. You assure us of it’s abilities to render the wearer invisible?

Wizard Blenkinsop: I do indeed.

Mister Hootman: Invisible? There are many things that one could do if invisible…ever been tempted to ride on public transport for free?

Wizard Blenkinsop: Certainly not!

Mister Hootman: What! – never even been tempted to sneak your way into some major event when tickets are unobtainable?

Wizard Blenkinsop: We wizards have a certain code of conduct, you know…

Mister Hootman: Members of the jury, I put it to you that only the most saintly of men would be able to resist the opportunities such invisibility would give one….unless of course this garment is just a figment of the imagination of some sad person with delusions of grandeur. You do not really possess any magical powers do you Mr Blenkinsop? You are a charlatan, a trickster !

Wizard Blenkinsop: How dare you !

Mister Hootman: Prove that you can perform real magic then!

At this point there was a flash of smoke and the Wizard disappeared.

Mister Hootman: Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, you may have found that act astounding…but I submit this video in evidence as proof that anyone could do this…it is merely an example of advanced trickery.

Judge Jeffreys: Have you finished, Mister Hootman ?…then we shall adjourn for the day.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 2

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Mr Hootman: Much has been made in this Court of you generosity, has it not?

Uncle: Yes…but not by myself I might add.

Mr Hootman: Is it not true, however, that this generosity comes at a price?

Uncle: I have no idea what you mean…

Mr Hootman: Well, let me put it this way – is it not expected that you receive something in return for your gifts? For instance has the King of the Badgers, himself, not bestowed medals on you in return for small favours you have done him…

Uncle: Well, yes, but…

Mr Hootman:…and at one point even the Town Hall Mace?

Uncle: He did indeed give me that item, but its value…

Mr Hootman: …and is it not expected that those you assist are expected to show their gratitude by depicting those events in paintings, and to lay on celebrations in your honour…all to massage your ego and to reinforce the image of yourself that you have created as a great benefactor?

Uncle: You are twisting these facts to cast me in an unflattering light! This is ridiculous…an elephant of my position being spoken to like a common…

Mr Hootman:…criminal? Do you mean the sort of person who might, for instance… take a bicycle without the owners permission?

Uncle: I am well aware of the incident to which you allude. It is a well-known fact that I merely borrowed the bicycle – I certainly was not prosecuted over the matter and I think that you will find that the owner has been quite happy with the recompense I have made to him for this slight error of judgement…

Mr Hootman: So you say, so you say, but suffice to say that there is no smoke without fire.

Judge Jeffreys: Have that remark struck from the record. Members of the Jury I ask you to disregard that last remark. Counsel, you should no better than that – please keep speculation out of this Courtroom!

Mr Hootman: I apologise most profusely your honour – a mere slip of the tongue. Let us pass on to your relationship with the accused. Would it not be correct to say that you consider him to be a thorn in your side?

Uncle: He has caused a number of problems in the past that have upset the normal running of Homeward.

Mr Hootman: I put it to you, Sir, that you are a self-confessed capitalist and that as the owner of a vast property, with many business interests – you are dependent on docile tenants to guarantee your rental income and subservient workers to assure the smooth running of your enterprises.

Uncle: I think that my rents are more than fair and that my workers receive a very adequate remuneration…

Mr Hootman: A very patrician attitude…almost feudal one might say.

Judge Jeffreys: Where is this line of questioning leading, Mister Hootman, I must say I do not see its relevance?

Mr Hootman: Your honour, I merely seek to show how someone who might attempt to aid these tenants and workers to improve their lot might be seen as a danger, by Uncle, to his life of privilege.

Judge Jeffreys: You may continue, but I warn you to be careful how you proceed.

Mr Hootman: Thank you M’lud. I put it to you, Uncle, that you are jealous of Mister Hateman.

Uncle: I have no idea what you mean?

Mr Hootman: You must be well aware, that Mister Hateman, is seen by many as somewhat of a Robin Hood character….

Uncle: He’s a thief you mean.

Mr Hootman: No, no, of course not…but he is seen my many as standing up for the poor against the rich, is he not?

Uncle: No, I think that most people see him as a con artist and a felon.

Mr Hootman: I put it to you that, the fact that he is so loved, enrages you because unlike yourself he has no need to buy adoration!

Uncle: That is the most ridiculous accusation…

Mr Hootman: No matter, let us pass onto the events you so eloquently, if incorrectly, described yesterday. Firstly let us consider the ‘magical’ Wizard’s Dressing Gown.

Uncle: By all means. A most powerful and dangerous weapon in the hands of the wrong person.

Mr Hootman: A Dressing Gown?

Uncle: Indeed, one with the properties of that particular dressing gown.

Mr Hootman: Yes, supposedly conferring the power of invisibility.

Uncle: Indeed.

Mr Hootman: As you know my client’s version of events is that he was wandering around the Museum and fell asleep. When he awoke, feeling somewhat chilly, he saw the dressing gown and placed it around himself to keep warm. He was certain that it had no value because it was so worn out and moth-eaten. Does that not sound more likely than you extraordinary claims that he stole it because of its enormous value…as a ‘magical’ garment?

Uncle: I believe the prosecution will be calling a number of expert witnesses in order to prove this.

Mr Hootman: We shall see…I shall now move onto the crimes that you claim were committed by my client using this ‘magical’ gown. You claim that he stole all the paintings from your Art Gallery?

Uncle: Indeed I do.

Mr Hootman: But is it not correct that when the Badgertown Police were called into investigate the thefts that they found all the paintings present and correct?

Uncle: No that is not true, what they found were crude imitations of the originals…

Mr Hootman: So you say, but so far we have the borrowing of a dressing gown, and you yourself have admitted to the borrowing of items in your own past, and an art theft that never happened. Is that not the truth?

Uncle: The curator saw the paintings being taken. They floated out of the Museum…

Mr Hootman: Members of the jury…we are expected to believe that they ‘floated’ out of the museum, carried by persons unknown wearing a ‘magical’ dressing gown… I put it to you, Uncle, that you are a fantasist. Your whole life is a fiction…you imagine that you live in a castle with ‘magical’ places and ‘magical’ objects, and that you are the master of this ‘magical’ kingdom, where all the tenants bask in your bounteous presence…

Uncle: That is nonsense!

Mr Hootman: ‘Magical’ Dressing Gowns? Is this not the stuff of children’s fiction? Honestly, you will be expecting us to believe in Schools for Wizards next! Your adherence to a world of fantasy is merely an opiate for the people! It is a means by which you exert control. As the great philosopher Plato said - Ignorance or error about reality is among the worst disasters that can befall us, and from these so many other pains and disasters follow; and fantasy is a contributor to that worst disaster.
You create an illusory fantasy world where the people are happy with your rule – you require that the people believe in this fantasy so that they will make no demands in the real world. To call on them to give up their illusions is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.

Uncle: That is a monstrous distortion of the truth!

Mr Hootman: Is it not a distortion of the truth to claim that innocent tourists, who accidentally found themselves in your Treasury, were using a ‘magical’ dressing gown to steal from you ?...I ask you, members of the jury, next he will be asking you to shout that you believe in fairies! No more questions M’lud!

Judge Jeffreys: In that case, we will adjourn for the day.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Crown Court - Transcript - Day 1

Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel

Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys

Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.

Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T

Mr Badger: You are Uncle, owner of Homeward Castle, is that correct?

Uncle: I am.

Mr Badger: Now you must be aware, members of the jury, of whom this elephant is. He is extremely well known in the locale, he has been involved in local politics and has taken a leading part in the social and official life of the area for many years and is respected as a benefactor…

Mr Hootman: Objection M’lud, where is my learned friend going here?...he is leading the witness and presenting opinion as fact…

Mr Badger: Your honour, I was merely attempting to fill in the background of the elephant…clearly allegations such as those made in this publication are extremely important to an elephant such as this. It is not only Beaver Hateman who is on trial here but the immense public reputation of the illustrious owner of Homeward.

Judge Jeffreys: I quite agree, you may continue your questions, Mister Badger.

Mr Badger: Thank you M’lord. Sir, Is it not true that you have bestowed many gifts on the populace?....I am thinking in particular, of course, of the great Dwarf’s Drinking Fountains…

Uncle: Yes, that is true, I do like to give aid to the less fortunate, although I do not wish to make a great fuss about these gifts…

Mr Badger: Of course not, because you are a modest elephant who only wishes to do his part for society…

Uncle: I do my best.

Mr Badger: Let us move onto the events that have led to this trial today. It all started when a Wizard’s Dressing Gown went missing from the Homeward Museum at The Pleasure Palace formerly known as Montague Tower ?

Uncle: That is correct.

Mr Badger: It was deduced by your detective that Mister Hateman was responsible for this theft?

Uncle: Yes, the evidence was clear.

Mr Hootman: Objection M’lud – this is pure conjecture – my client denies theft of any such object.

Judge Jeffreys: You shall have your chance to refute this claim. Mr Badger would you care to rephrase that question?

Mr Badger: Certainly your honour, It is your belief that Mister Hateman is responsible for the alleged theft of this dressing gown?

Uncle: It is.

Mr Badger: Following the disappearance of the dressing gown it was discovered that it had unusual properties?

Uncle: Yes, we found out that it conferred on the wearer the power of invisibility.

Mr Badger: Shortly after this, there was a raid on the Homeward Art Gallery and all the paintings were taken?

Uncle: Yes, and it could, clearly, only have been achieved under the dressing gown of invisibility – the paintings were seen to ‘float’ out of the gallery.

Mr Hootman: Objection M’lud, this is clearly the fantasy of a deranged mind.

Judge Jeffreys: I admit that this appears a somewhat strange tale – but it is clearly a key point in the prosecution.

Mr Badger: It is indeed M’lud, for we now come to the odd events that took place in Uncle’s Treasury. Can you tell us of the events of the day in question, Sir?

Uncle: Certainly, I knew that Mister Hateman would be unable to resist a chance to get into my Treasury, so I asked the King of the Badgers to pretend to make a request for funds…

Judge Jeffreys: This somewhat complicates matters, given that the prosecution has been taken in the name of our great King – is he to be called as a witness as well?

Mr Badger: It is an unusual situation but I gather the King has agreed to appear as a witness M’lud.

Judge Jeffreys: We are truly honoured, then, to be bestowed with his presence…continue…Uncle…

Uncle: Well, knowing that Mister Hateman, under the dressing gown of invisibility, would overhear this conversation and therefore be aware that he would be able to gain access to my Treasury by hiding amongst us – I prepared a trap. Cowgill, my engineer, sprayed the area around the gold with treacle an lo and behold the miscreant appeared!

Mr Badger: Yes, but he made an escape?

Uncle: Yes, he made use of a previously excavated tunnel.

Mr Badger: Then a few days later this scurrilous article appeared?

Uncle: Yes, a complete travesty of the events that had taken place.

Mr Badger: An article that has caused you both a great deal of personal hurt and public humiliation?

Uncle: I try to rise above this kind of abuse, but in this case I felt deeply wounded.

Mr Badger: Thank you, Sir, I have no more questions for this witness M,lud

Judge Jeffreys: Thank you Mr Badger – I shall now adjourn the court until tomorrow morning when defence counsel can cross-examine the witness.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Criminal Libel

I could not believe my eyes as I read the latest copy of The Badfort News this morning.

Our readers will be saddened to hear of another outrage by the Dictator of Homeward.
Our esteemed leader, Mr Beaver Hateman, undertook a tour of the
tyrant’s properties in order to ascertain the squalid conditions Unc’s
tenants are forced to live in. He became lost and wandered accidently
into the fierce fat fool’s treasury.
He was at once surrounded by a menacing crowd, some of them bearing lethal weapons. He was then sprayed with treacle and almost drowned. Uncle made some offensive accusations and in an effort to escape with his life Mr Hateman managed to find a tunnel to escape down.

We call on all citizens to rise and resist to the death - Uncle the Robber
of Gangster Castle!

I shall indulge in no more fisticuffs with Mister Hateman. It is clear to me that the purpose of this libel is not just to defame me as an individual but to bring institutions into disrepute and thus, in the end, disturb the peace of the community.

It is a clear case of Criminal Libel and I have asked the King of the Badgers to bring the full weight of the law against The Badfort News and it's proprietor.

I shall see Mister Hateman in court.

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Monday, 3 March 2008

Treasury Trouble

We decided to call a temporary halt to our tour of Homeward until the danger from Beaver, and the Wizard's Dressing Gown of Invisibility, was over.

It had been strange being home again, there was a peculiar atmosphere that everyone had felt. An odd feeling of being watched all the time.

This morning the phone in the great hall rang very early. "It's the King of the Badgers, Sir." said the Old Monkey giving me a meaningful look. "Right, well I better speak to him straight away." I replied.

I made sure everyone could hear my side of the conversation."What's that you say, King, you desperately need five million pounds? for an orphan's home?" I bellowed "You shall have it right away!" I then turned to my followers "Quick, Cowgill, get a lorry, we need to take some funds from the Treasury to the King of the Badgers." I shouted urgently.

The Treasury is reached from the room adjoining the hall. The whole of the floor rises to reveal a long smooth passage of brilliantly lighted steel that slopes gently downwards. The lorry glided down and after a long journey we drew up at a huge barrier of massive steel. My Treasury is guarded by a very good sentry called Oldeboy.
He is only about sixteen, but he is always pretending to be old. He admires Noddy Ninety so much he copies him in every possible way, even wearing an artificial beard and large spectacles. As we stopped he came out of his sentry-box which had a flamethrower fixed on the top of it. "Stand, every one of you, and then come up to the light. Lets' have a look at you, one by one, or I'll turn the flame-thrower on you!" shouted Oldeboy.

As we were being checked through Oldeboy's security inspection I praised him on his thoroughness "Good Show, Oldeboy - Everything Ready?"

"Yes, Sir, All is in order, the gold is ready for collection in Bay Four!" he shouted back to me and gave the signal for the lorry to move on.

My treasury resembles a vast cave lined with steel. Valuables are piled everywhere in majestic confusion. We drove the lorry up to Bay Four and my followers had soon filled it with gold. I began to shout new instructions "Right, off to the King of the Badgers, then..." but, before I got any further the Old Monkey found himself being thrown from the drivers seat as if by some unseen force.

Of course, I was prepared for this event - it was exactly what I was expecting.

"Fire !" I cried and at that Cowgill appeared holding a long rubber pipe. A gush of treacle spewed forth. This soon hit some invisible obstacle and, as it covered the object, a figure gradually began to be revealed beneath the layer of solidifying treacle. It was, of course, Beaver Hateman wearing a treacle covered dressing gown.

A further spray of treacle enveloped another object. The spectral Hootman was now corporeal.

My suspicions were confirmed - Beaver and Hootman had been hiding in Homeward Hall all the time - waiting for an opportunity to get into my Treasury and escape with my money. Hence, the faked phone call from the King of the Badgers. But, an invisible dressing gown, only makes it's wearer invisible whilst it remains clean. The ingenious idea of the Treacle Gun had been Cowgill's.

Beaver threw the dressing gown to the floor "Useless rubbish! - Try to drown me in treacle would you - you stinking dictator?" he cried "You will live to rue this day!."

My followers made a grab for them - but they had prepared an exit strategy. They had opened up a tunnel that they had made on a previous attempt to infiltrate my Treasury and scuttled off down it before they could be captured.

"Shall we give chase, Sir?" asked Cloutman. I felt it wiser not to attempt to follow them - they had almost certainly booby-trapped the tunnel entrance.

Hopefully the Badfort Crowd will be chastened by this experience and we can continue our tour in peace.

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