A serious case of a misled M'Lud

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Yesterday, I brought you part of a sensational trial in which a Mr Raymond Slazenger is accused of obtaining money by false pretences. It seems that he runs a chain of shops called "Closing Down Sale - Everything Must Go!". None of these shops does, in fact, ever close. Today, we continue with his testimony.

Yesterday, I brought you part of a sensational trial in which a Mr Raymond Slazenger is accused of obtaining money by false pretences. It seems that he runs a chain of shops called "Closing Down Sale - Everything Must Go!". None of these shops does, in fact, ever close. Today, we continue with his testimony.

Counsel: May I refer you to a shop you own in Hertfordshire called "Going Going Gone"?

Slazenger: You certainly may.

Counsel: Has it gone yet?

Slazenger: Certainly not. Why should it?

Counsel: Would you not say the name of the shop suggests it is about to close?

Slazenger: Certainly not. It is just a name. Do you expect a Mecca Ballroom to be run for the greater glory of the prophet? Or even the greater profit of the prophet?

Counsel: Which prophet?

Slazenger: Net profit. I always ignore gross profit. There is something rather ... gross about it.

Judge: Gentlemen, gentlemen, you are going too fast for me again. Mr Battle, could you go again from the place where you ask the defendant to explain, very slowly and plainly, why none of his shops has ever closed.

Counsel: But I haven't asked that question, your honour.

Judge: Then ask it now.

Counsel: Very well. Mr Slazenger ...

Slazenger: Yes, yes, I heard the question. I shall answer it in the form of another question, and it is this: "Why does a shop called Boots not sell boots?"

Counsel: Well, I suppose because it is a shop that belongs to a man called Boot.

Slazenger: Then why does a shop called Harrods not belong to a man called Harrod?

Counsel: Well, I don't know. I suppose because ...

Slazenger: Does it perhaps sell things called "harrods"? I do not think so. Does the shop called Selfridges belong to a man called Selfridge? Does it even sell fridges? Why is Harrods not prosecuted for not belonging to a man called Harrod? That is all it claims in its name - and that claim is 100 per cent wrong! Why am I in the dock and not the owner of Harrods?

Counsel: Mr Slazenger, it is most unusual for the witness to ask all the questions.

Slazenger: And a waste of time too, for all the straight answers I'm getting. Here's another question. Have you ever been in a Majestic Wine Store?

Counsel: Well, yes . . .

Slazenger: Not a bad little wine chain. Useful. Utilitarian. But majestic? Is there anything majestic about a Majestic wine store?

Counsel: Well, no ...

Slazenger: I rest my case! Witness dismissed. Next one please.

Judge: Mr Slazenger, if I may interpose here, and I may, being the judge, I must point out two things. One is that you, as a witness, have no power to dismiss the other side's counsel. The other is that not ten years ago I did in fact purchase a fridge at Selfridges. So they do sell fridges!

Slazenger: And has it functioned well?

Judge: Alas, it has not been a complete success. My wife and I are thinking of replacing it.

Slazenger: If so, may I suggest that you come to our store in Wembley, "Fridges and Freezers - the Final Fortnight!", where I think you will find an appliance to your liking, at a rock-bottom price.

Judge: Mmmmm - sounds mouth-watering, but I am not sure I can make it in the next fortnight.

Slazenger: Believe me, sir, we shall be there for the next 10 years!

Judge: Excellent! Good man! ... Carry on, Mr Battle. Could you go from the point where you ask the witness: "And do you also have bargains in caravan accessories, in one of your stores in the London area?"

Counsel: That is not a question I was going to ask.

Judge: Ask it, nevertheless.

The case continues, though not in this space.

Comments