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

Share
Related Topics
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.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible