M'learned friend, the master of the rolls

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The High Court descended into toilet humour yesterday, as Andrex defended its reputation as the tissue with the softest touch.

Bundles of pink, blue and white lavatory paper decorated the witness box and the judge, Mr Justice Laddie, kept some to hand for closer inspection. Only the trademark labrador puppy was missing.

"My Lord, it's a passing of motion," began David Young QC, counsel for the manufacturers Kimberley-Clark, with apparently no reference to bowel movement.

The case concerns an advertising gimmick dreamt up by Nouvelle paper, made by Fort Sterling, which has a 3 per cent share of the market. By way of promoting its improved, recycled toilet paper as the softest on the market, Nouvelle is offering a free roll of its rival, Andrex, to any customer who disagrees. The offer is due to appear on packaging and feature in a series of television advertisements starting next week.

When shown Nouvelle's packet, which includes a yellow band with the words "Softness guaranteed (or we'll exchange it for Andrex)", three times as many of the 500 interviewees associated the product with Andrex, according to Mr Young.

Unwrapping a roll in order to examine it, the judge said that without, having the two brands side by side, most people sampling Nouvelle, "won't realise how they've been cheated from having the even softer feel of Andrex".

The case continues today.