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Mr Smeare: No, that is not true – they had been replaced by cheap and common imitations!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.