Regal angle to a legal wrangle

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The most extraordinary bit of litigation going on at the moment is a case in the High Court, where the Tory Party is being sued by Mr and Mrs Norbert. They claim that they (the Norberts) have been given inadequate government for the last 13 years, that the Government should have managed things better, and that they (the Norberts) should be compensated.

Here, for your enlightenment, is a recent extract from this startling case, in which Mr Heseltine, among others, took the witness stand.

Counsel: Your name is Michael Heseltine ?

Heseltine: It is.

Counsel: You have been one of the major participants at cabinet level in the present Government?

Heseltine: I have that honour.

Counsel: Which honour ?

Heseltine: Of serving in Her Majesty's Government.

Counsel: You call that an honour? You call it an honour to be one of this shifty, unprincipled, unqualified, shameless crew?

Heseltine: Oh, come off it, sonny. You can try any amount of abuse but it won't wash. I eat Today interviewers for breakfast, and they're a lot cleverer than you.

Counsel: So, Mr Heseltine, you have a high opinion of Her Majesty's Government?

Heseltine: We have brought this country through stormy times into calm seas. We have built the foundation on which prosperity can rise. We look forward to a time when our economic stewardship...

Counsel: Just a minute, Mr Heseltine. You have been in power for a decade and a half. You have had 15-odd years in power. Yet prosperity is still just around the corner! After 15 years you are still looking ahead to good times! Why are they not here now?

Heseltine: Oh, but they are!

Counsel: Oh, but they are not. We have already heard how far behind other countries in the EC we are. We have heard how much in debt we are. We have heard many other statistics. Are you totally insensitive to them all?

Heseltine: Look here, this new Budget leaves us all better off. It really does. It puts pounds 370, yes, pounds 370 into the pocket of every family in Britain... Is Labour really saying that they don't want us to give pounds 370, yes, pounds 370, to every family in Britain?

Judge: Mr Heseltine, I have given you due warning. I have warned you that if you treat this court as if you were trying your tricks on the much vaunted BBC chat show Today, you will be out of here. You have paid no attention to my warning. You are out of here.

Heseltine: But, my Lord...

Judge: Out!

Heseltine is ejected.

Counsel: Call the next witness, Mr William Wendover!

Judge: Just a moment, just a moment. Do you mean Mr William Waldegrave?

Counsel: No, m'Lud. Mr William Wendover. He is a man I met in the pub last night, m'Lud.

Judge: Oh, this is ridiculous! Are we going to go through the population of Britain one by one? Already this case has made legal history by lasting longer than any case since those two took on that hamburger place...

Lawyer: [Interrupting from the public gallery] I must warn this court that I am here on behalf of McDonald's and that any such further remark will be followed by a writ!

Judge: Get that man out of here!

There is a struggle, and he is ejected, leaving a faint but pervasive smell of cooking oil

Judge: Now, you were saying...

Counsel: At the start of the trial, m'Lud, you were saying that it was important to know what the man on the Clapham omnibus was thinking. Well, as you are perhaps aware, there is no longer an omnibus in Clapham.

Judge: Is there not? Good Lord. Then how do people get out of Clapham?

Counsel: I believe they buy a house in Dulwich or Chelsea, or move to the country.

Judge: I see.

Counsel: But as a pub is the modern equivalent of the Clapham omnibus, I took the liberty of asking Mr Wendover what he thought of the present Government.

Judge: And what did he say?

Counsel: He said it was diabolical.

Judge: That's good enough for me. No need to call him. On to the next witness!

Counsel: Call Her Majesty the Queen!

Judge: Is that quite necessary?

Counsel: Of course. The Norberts are suing Her Majesty's Government. I think she should have a say.

Judge: Well, you can try it. I doubt if she will appear, though. Still, good luck. Wake me if and when she arrives.

Counsel: Call Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!

Queen: Here I am.

More sensational developments tomorrow!

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