Lawyers do it in front of a judge

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The Independent Online
Yesterday I brought you an extract from a high court case in which a Mr Greenleaf is being prosecuted by the Council for Decent and Truthful Car Stickers. As it is extremely nice these days to have any court report which does not dwell on sex or violence, I thought we might have another little episode ...

Counsel: If you do not actually have a baby on board, Mr Greenleaf, why do you have a car sticker in your back window saying: "Keep back - baby on board"?

Witness: Well, to be honest, because I hate drivers coming up close behind me and driving down the back of my neck.

Counsel: And has it stopped drivers doing that?

Witness: Not a lot. They still drive too close. I despair sometimes.

Counsel: Has it occurred to you that perhaps they might be driving close to you in order to read your car stickers?

Witness: It hadn't, really.

Counsel: Had it occurred to you that it might be better to have your car stickers facing into the car, so they do not distract other drivers?

Witness: That would miss the point, really.

Counsel: Really? Then what is the point?

Witness: So that other drivers can read the stickers.

Counsel: Oh, really? Then why are they in such small print? Why not have them in really big letters so that you can share them with everyone?

Witness: Well,I don't think that would look very nice ...

Counsel: Ah! So you admit that car stickers don't look very nice?

Witness: Not big ones ...

Counsel: And you think that babies are better than other people?

Witness: Pardon?

Counsel: You have a sticker in your window saying: "Keep back - baby on board". You do not have a sticker saying: "Keep back - mother on board" or "Keep back - teenager on board". You obviously think that babies are of more worth than mothers and teenagers.

Witness: Yes, but I haven't got any teenagers on board.

Counsel: Nor, by your own admission, do you regularly have a baby on board! But that does not prevent you making the false claim that you are, in fact, a carrier of babies!

Witness: Well, I ...

Counsel: Do you realise that under the Public Notices Act of 1947 you are committing a criminal act, namely offering to the public view a notice which you wilfully know to be misleading?

Witness: Well, I ...

Counsel: Do you imagine that when other drivers see your message to the effect that there is a baby on board, they immediately think: "Oh dear, I had better keep clear of this car in case I collide with it and kill the baby?"

Witness: Well, not as such ...

Counsel: Or do you think that people will stay clear because they think the baby is driving your car?

Judge: Pardon me intruding, but what if any is the point of this slightly circumambulatory questioning?

Counsel: My Lord, I am attempting to confuse and distress the witness with a series of disconnected and only half relevant questions, in order to bring him to a state of tearful perplexity in which I can induce him to agree to almost anything I suggest.

Judge: Excellent! I shall enjoy that! Carry on ...

Counsel: Now, Mr Greenleaf, you have one or two other stickers in your back window.

Witness: Yes, I do.

Counsel: One of them I believe refers to windsurfers.

Witness: That's right! It says: "Windsurfers do it standing up."

Counsel: It does not say: "Keep back - windsurfer on board"?

Witness: No.

Counsel: Or "Votes for windsurfers" or "Take a windsurfer into your home"?

Witness: No.

Counsel: So it's not an act of information or public service?

Witness: No. It's a joke.

Counsel: A joke! I see.

Judge: Was there a joke? I must have missed it.

Counsel: My lord, the joke was: "Windsurfers do it standing up".

Judge: Don't get it.

Counsel: Perhaps the witness could explain.

Witness: Yes, well, it's not easy to explain ...

Counsel: Does it perhaps mean that windsurfers remain perpendicular during the sexual act?

Witness: Yes, that's about it.

Counsel: Not very funny, would you say?

Witness: No, well, put like that ...

Counsel: So, in your back window you have one obscene sticker and one totally misleading one. Let us now turn to the third sticker, which says: "My other car is a Porsche" ...

The case continues, though, alas, without us.