A most extraordinary law case is going on in London at the moment, in which a man accused of bank robbery says that, even if he did it, it wasn't for the money. His defence is that... but perhaps it might make more sense if I bring you an extract from the trial itself. We come in at the very moment when the accused man, Mr Lenny Fairfinger, takes the stand.
Counsel: Your name is Fairfinger?
Defendant: It is.
Counsel: That is a most unusual name.
Defendant: Yes. It is in fact a misprint for Firfinger.
Counsel: That is also a most unusual name.
Defendant: Not in the south-east corner of Saxony, in Germany, where my ancestors came from.
Counsel: They may have been better off staying there, Mr Firfinger.
Defendant: And what do you mean by that, may I ask?
Counsel: You may not ask. In this court, I am allowed to ask questions, but you are only allowed to give answers.
Defendant: Was that a question?
Defendant: Then let me know when one comes along, so we can do business.
Judge: Mr Tarlton, Mr Tarlton!
Counsel: Yes, my Lord?
Judge: I take it there is some point behind this exchange of inanities between you and the defendant?
Counsel: Yes, my Lord. I am trying to browbeat him with a display of insouciant bullying, and he, in return, is attempting to keep his courage up with some Cockney badinage.
Judge: And who is winning?
Counsel: Early days yet, my Lord. Fifteen-all in the first game, I would say.
Judge: Righty ho. Let me know when someone gets the upper hand.
Counsel: Thank you, my Lord. Now, Mr Firfinger...
Judge: Thirty-fifteen against you, Mr Tarlton!
Counsel: Yes, my Lord. Now, Mr Fairfinger, the charge against you is that you did take part in a bank robbery last July, in Wembley. It is alleged that you...
Defendant: I admit it.
Defendant: I admit it. But it wasn't for the money. So I am not guilty.
Counsel: If it were not for the money, what was it for?
Defendant: It was to get in the Guinness Book of Records.
Counsel: You... ask... the... court to believe... that... you...
Counsel: But criminals cannot get in the Guinness Book of Records by committing a crime!
Defendant: Course they can. There's lots in there. Biggest train robbery. Biggest jewel robbery. Most murders. Crippen, Christie, Ruth Ellis, etc etc.
Counsel: And how did you hope to join that august body?
Defendant: I wanted to become the bank robber to have taken the largest amount of small change in history. That is why, when I raided the bank in Wembley, I specifically asked for the money to be handed over in 1p and 2p coins. That was deliberate! See, I could have cleaned them out! I could have taken millions in notes! Instead, I was content with £5,000 worth of copper. Not a note did I take!
Counsel: And what makes you think that that would have got you into the Guinness Book of Records ?
Defendant: I know it would have! And I have proof of it! I have here a letter from the editor of the Guinness Book of Records, saying that if I do the robbery, I can get in the book as a record-holder! If anyone is guilty of this crime, it is not me - it is the editor of the Guinness Book of Records!
Sensation in court.
More of this tomorrow, when I think we shall see the editor of the Guinness Book of Records take the stand.
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