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.