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

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?