Captain Moonlight: Scallywag

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The Independent Online
LIFE became rather monotonous towards the end of last week. Everywhere I went, people kept pressing on me copies of a magazine called, I think, Scallywag. Apparently John Major has had some trouble with it. They took exception to his cooking, or something. Anyway, in this copy are the names of 11 leading Conservatives alleged to be homosexual, including two Cabinet ministers said to be having an affair with each other. This meant that everybody who showed it to me said it couldn't be true because they must be too busy doing it to the country to do it to each other, har, har, har.

Frankly, I'm at a bit of a loss. Why are there said to be lawyers' letters whizzing around? Why should it be libellous to call somebody a homosexual? I took counsel from my friend, Sidney Contumely, QC, the noted libel brief. 'There is doubt about that,' he said. 'I think it probably still is libellous to call someone a homosexual if they are, in fact, not a homosexual, on the basis that, whatever the liberal view, a jury might still easily be persuaded that to be called a homosexual remains a discreditable imputation.'

Mr Contumely formed his fingers into an arch and said there was a further point that the first party might be accusing the second party, if married and outwardly heterosexual, of, in common parlance, 'living a lie' and therefore engaging in conduct of a duplicitous nature. The test, he said, was whether the accusation complained of would lead a reasonable person to think the worse of you. I said this might be difficult with a member of the present Cabinet. The great lawyer almost smiled, but was not persuaded.

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