There was an early victory for the plaintiff and the judge handed over a fiver

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A most extraordinary case is going on in the High Court, which has been brought by a newspaper reader against his newspaper. If the reader wins the case, it could cost the newspaper millions of pounds. The reader claims, simply, that the newspaper is no longer a newspaper in any meaningful meaning of the word, and should cease passing itself off as such.

You will get some flavour of the trial with this extract from Monday's proceedings ...

Counsel: Your name is Higgs?

Higgs: It is.

Counsel: And what is your first name, Mr Higgs?

Higgs: Higgs has always been my name. There was never any other name which I had before it. It always has been and still is my first name.

Counsel: No, I don't mean first name in that sense. I mean, in the sense of a first name being a Christian name. What is your Christian name?

Higgs: There is nothing unChristian about the name Higgs, I hope.

Counsel: No, I suppose not. In that case, what is your forename?

Higgs: George.

Counsel: So your name is George Higgs?

Higgs: Partly.

Counsel: How can your name be partly George Higgs?

Higgs: Because there is more of it that you have left out.

Counsel: You mean - your full name is longer than that?

Higgs: Appreciably.

Counsel: So, what is your full name?

Higgs: My full name is George B. R. Higgs.

Counsel: What does the B. stand for?

Higgs: I'd ... I'd rather not say.

Counsel: Why not?

Higgs: Because you might laugh.

Counsel: Mr Higgs, there is no danger of that. This is a very serious court of law.

Higgs: Then I can tell you that the B stands for Brenda.

Counsel: Brenda?

(He roars with laughter).

Higgs: My Lord, is he allowed to laugh at my answers?

Judge: Only if they are funny. If laughter were not allowed in court, who would ever laugh at my jokes?

Counsel: That's very good, my Lord! Nice one!

(He roars with laughter again.)

Judge: That wasn't a joke, you fool. Now get on with it.

Counsel: Very good, my Lord. Now, Mr Higgs, are you seriously asking the court to believe that the B in your initials stands for Brenda?

Higgs: Yes. I was given a girl's name among others because my parents hoped I would be a girl.

Counsel: Come, come, Mr Higgs. By the time you were named you had been born and they must have known your gender.

Higgs: Ah, but they never gave up hope. They wanted a girl very badly. They thought that one day I might grow up to want to change sex, and have an operation, and become a woman, and then they would have a girl after all. Called Brenda.

Counsel: I see. What does the R stand for?

Higgs: I'd rather not say.

Counsel: Ah! Another girl's name, is it?

Higgs: No.

Counsel: Boy's name, then?

Higgs: No.

Counsel: Come, Mr Higgs! It must be one or the other!

Higgs: Not necessarily.

Judge: Mr Higgs, I have presided over many many trials, and seen many witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants give their names, but I have never yet come across one which could not be assigned to either sex. I am prepared to wager that the name concealed by the letter R is no different.

Higgs: How much?

Judge: pounds 5. Now, I am extremely curious to hear what the R stands for. Come - tell us!

Higgs: It does not stand for anything. It is merely an initial. My full name is George Brenda R. Higgs.

Counsel: But why on earth would your parents give you an initial instead of a name?

Higgs: To save me embarrassment. If they had not inserted an "R", my initials would have been G.B.H.

Judge: That is true. Here's a fiver.

Higgs: Thank you, my Lord.

Counsel: Now, Mr George Brenda R. Higgs, it is your contention that the Daily Post, which styles itself a national newspaper, is in fact no such thing. Am I correct?

Higgs: Indeed. Most of its contents is not news, and what little there is is inaccurate. If the Daily Post took as much trouble over investigating anything as you have showed merely in checking my name, then I would have a little more faith in it.

Well, I'm afraid we joined the trial a little early to get any of the full meat, so I think we'll have another extract tomorrow from this fascinating test case.

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