The law is an ass; what I need is an assassin

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I know that Independent on Sunday readers are, on the whole, a kindly, cultured and peace-loving lot, but ... well, I just thought I'd ask: anyone out there know any killers?

Oh, come on. Don't be naive. Killers. You know; assassins; hit men; cold- blooded wet-job experts; hired guns. The thing is, time is of the essence. I need to get this sorted out before the new gun laws kick in and all the villains think, Oh blimey, nothing bigger than a .22, hardly worth having, couldn't shoot your way out of a paper bag with a .22 and anything more powerful, well, that would be against the law, we're talking 10 years in pokey, they would have us bang to rights, forget it, we're jacking it in.

So you will understand the urgency of my quest. I have to find my man now, or they'll all be slouching off up the nick, come deadline day, to hand in their dodgy shooters before sloping off to the tailors to have their holster-bulge (redundant now, and drooping like an old deflated breast) taken in.

I'll pay well. Indeed, I'm prepared to take all the risk. I'll look after the moody bugger's shooter; bullets, too, except I've a vague feeling that it's not manly to call them "bullets".

Perhaps you are wondering why I want a gunman on permanent stand-by. Is it to deal with the ever-present threat from my professional enemies, jealous of my success, my money, my handsome appearance and my fashionable metropolitan lifestyle? Am I living in fear of a series of outraged husbands? Have I fallen into the hands of an evil spy ring, or ruthless blackmailers? No.

It is not for me that I want the right bastard, but for one of you. A reader. A nice, intelligent, woman; an artist; a woman of such fundamental decency and generosity of spirit, of such modest demands, that you would have thought that, had the laws of England any purpose, had Michael Howard any point at all to his opportunistic and relentless self-advancement, it would be to protect people like her and to preserve their peace and security.

This woman first wrote to me over a year ago, to say that she had read some things I had written, and thought that I might be able to help her with a problem she had. She didn't (she said) expect that I would be able to do anything; it was just that she wanted to talk it over with someone, and could I spare the time?

Well of course I could. Not just out of pathological curiosity, the curse of my trade, nor just out of the common impulse to try to do the decent thing, but also because it was flattering to be asked.

So we met, and, for a year now, with a growing sense of helpless impotence, I have been sharing in this woman's nightmare.

It's a nightmare which grows out of a dream that I've had, and I bet you've had too: the dream of making a fresh start, of finding a little house on a wild promontory overlooking the sea; of living frugally and of finding some deep personal honour in working at one's true art. Perhaps I shall never do it; perhaps you will never do it; perhaps we've been whores for too long. But this woman did it, painting her haunting, pagan pictures, taking a little job to make ends meet, raising her daughter, doing no harm.

Then the speculators moved in, and bought the adjoining cottage. At first it was just a nuisance: mess, noise, boundary infringements. Then the "developers" crossed the line into criminal damage and harassment. These speculators, these developers, these half-lives, rancid with greed and stupidity, have for over a year now been trying, backed by the law, and the inertia of the law, and the imbecility of the law, to drive this woman from her home, to ruin her and destroy her carefully constructed life.

The trouble is, I can't tell you about it. Not the details; money-laundering, bent coppers, Freemasons. It would take too long; it would place her in danger; above all, you wouldn't believe me. "Am I going mad?" she asked me some months ago. "Is it me? Am I paranoid?" No, I don't think she's any of these things; unless I am all of those things too.

I used to think that the law was there to protect citizens against this sort of horror. Stupid me, I know, an idiotic confusion of terms. It's the laws that exist to defend us and preserve the Queen's peace. The law has a different purpose, which is to defend and preserve itself. In a civilised country, a citizen in this woman's position would be granted legal aid. In Britain, we give legal aid to Maxwell's offspring, and yet permit a bureaucratic functionary to deny the hope of redress to a woman who has no hope otherwise of affording recourse to the law.

I suppose thsee jobsworths - I don't know who they are, but I can get a sniff of them, a compound of Palmolive, prudence and pomposity - have their reasons. I presume they can go home each evening, look their spouses in the eye and say: "Guess what I did today, honey? We had this application for legal aid. Now: at first sight it looked immaculate. Prima facie evidence of illegality. Serious wrongs done to the applicant, who was being driven to a nervous breakdown, has lost her job, and doesn't have a bean to go to law herself. But did I give up? No! I found perfectly legal grounds to turn down her claim! I drove her an inch further towards the precipice, all by myself. You're talking to a winner, honey. Come here! Take your things off! I want to have you, right here, right now, bent over th-... sorry. Oh God, sorry. I'm just a bit tense ..."

So that's how things stand, and if any snivelling PR is thinking of ringing me up to defend Legal Aid, they can forget it because there's no amount of smooth weaselly bullshit can cover up a rank injustice. And even if the Law, in all its greasy, fat-arsed complacency, is prepared to let it slip by on the nod, old boy, there are those of us who feel differently. It's time to hire myself a hard man, a moody bastard, and deal out some frontier justice. Time to bring back chivalry, albeit by proxy. I'm waiting to hear from you, no questions asked. !