Mr Bannerman's Evidence

 

Justice

In a first for British justice, businessman Troy Bannerman sought an injunction against the police to prevent them using evidence that could see him behind bars. A visibly perplexed Justice Frog presided as Mr Bannerman's legal representative, Ms. Wendy Gargle, opened the batting against the Chief Constable of West Shepton Constabulary.

Gargle:

Chief Constable McAlister, I trust I'm addressing you by your correct title?

Chief Constable:

No.

Gargle:

No what?

Chief Constable:

No... miss?

Gargle:

Please do not attempt to fox the court with your devious police evasions. Are you or are you not a Chief Constable? A simple yes or no will suffice.

Chief Constable:

Yes.

Gargle:

Right... Good... Do you mean 'yes you are', or 'yes you are not'?

Chief Constable:

Um ... yes?

At this point, realising that she had painted herself into a corner, Ms Gargle made an appeal to the judge.

Gargle:

Your honour. I wonder if we might start again?

Frog:

Yes, you are making rather a hash of it, aren't you? Allow me. Chief Constable, would you kindly satisfy the court that you are indeed Chief Constable McAlister?

Chief Constable:

No, Your Honour.

Frog:

'No, you won't satisfy the court' or 'no, you are not Chief Constable McAlistair'?

Chief Constable:

I am not Chief Constable McAlistair. For the record, I make no claim to be able to satisfy the court, either.

Frog:

Then if you are not Chief Constable McAlistair, who the devil are you?

Chief Constable:

Chief Constable Sheen, your worship.

Frog:

I see, I see - and will you kindly illuminate us as to why you are Chief Constable Sheen and not Chief Constable McAlistair?

Chief Constable:

I'm his replacement, your highness. Chief Constable McAlistair has retired.

Frog:

That's rather irresponsible of him. Oh, I can't make head nor tail of this. Ms Gargle, please take your witness back.

Gargle:

Thank you Your Honour. Chief Constable Sheen, kindly tell us what you were doing on the evening of 17th April this year.

Chief Constable:

I was attending a private party at the Pink Parakeet Club in Totteridge Street. What has that got to do with this case?

Gargle:

Nothing at all, but it does mean I've won a fiver.

Frog:

We will settle up later, Ms Gargle. Proceed.

Gargle:

Chief Constable Sheen, you are in sole command of West Shepton Constabulary, are you not? Please think carefully before you answer.

Chief Constable:

Yes, I -

Gargle:

I would remind you that you have sworn an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Chief Constable:

Yes, I know, and I -

Gargle:

Please Chief Constable, answer the question!

Chief Constable:

Yes, yes, of course I'm in command - why do you think I wear this hat?

Gargle:

Very good. And tell me Chief Constable, did your force arrest this man and charge him with fourteen counts of corporate fraud?

At this point Ms Gargle spun around and struck out an accusatory finger at a total stranger sitting in the public gallery. The stranger, startled, leapt to his feet and made a dash for the exit, colliding with two chairs and the usher before finally escaping from the courtroom.

Frog:

Who was that man, Ms Gargle?

Gargle:

I've no idea your honour, I mistimed my dramatic gesture. I meant to indicate my client, sitting here at the front.

Mr Bannerman used this opportunity to introduce himself, waving meekly and murmuring 'hello'. Ms Gargle put her question again and the Chief Constable answered in the affirmative.

Gargle:

I see, I see, and tell me, on what evidence do you base these wholly ridiculous and trumped up charges?

Mr Wivens, acting for West Shepton Constabulary, rose to protest.

Wivens:

Objection!

Frog:

Oh here we go; I thought we were doing well.

Wivens:

Your Honour, the question of whether the criminal charges brought against Mr Bannerman are justified is not a matter for this court, and it is quite misleading for my honourable colleague to describe them as 'trumped up'.

Frog:

Agreed. Objection upheld.

Wivens:

Might I remind everyone that the purpose of this court is to decide whether this so-called evidence can be used in Mr so-called Bannerman's forthcoming so-called trial.

Frog:

Indeed. Objection upheld.

Wivens:

I mean, where would we be if we found ourselves unable to focus on the issues at hand? Why, we'd be all over shop, and no mistake, to use a legal term.

Frog:

Yes, yes! Objection upheld, I say. What do I have to do to get you to shut up?

Wivens:

I mean, fair enough, the evidence very probably is trumped up. This is the cops we're talking about, after all. We all know what they're like, eh? But that's neither here nor there.

Frog:

Mr Wivens, two things: firstly, I've upheld your objection, please don't keep banging on about it, otherwise I may have to hurt you. Secondly, it would serve you well to remember that you are here to represent the West Shepton Constabulary and the murderous fashion in which the Chief Constable is currently glaring at you suggests that he doubts whether you have his best interests at heart. I have known gentlemen in your position to find themselves on the receiving end of a good kicking upon leaving the court, and there have been times when I can't say that I wholly disapprove.

Wivens:

Noted Judge. I'll can it.

Frog:

Ms Gargle, please repeat your question to the Chief Constable in less contentious language.

Gargle:

Of course. Chief Constable, on what evidence do you base the charges against my client?

Chief Constable:

On the evidence of numerous incriminating emails, letters, meeting minutes and reports that were retrieved from an office being used by Mr Bannerman.

Gargle:

By 'retrieved' of course you mean 'stolen'.

Chief Constable:

By 'retrieved' of course I mean 'seized on the authority of a warrant issued by the court'.

Gargle:

Well, of course, the distinction is very much a matter of perspective.

Chief Constable:

No it isn't. It's black and white, legal stuff, I looked it up.

Gargle:

Legal stuff? I think, maybe, you're better off leaving the intricate legal implications to lawyers, like what I am. And I tell you, Chief Constable, you have no legal right to use the material you obtained to pursue a criminal prosecution against my client. No further questions.

Chief Constable:

Hang on a minute!

Gargle:

I said no further questions!

Ms Gargle then folded her arms and turned her back on the witness until Justice Frog ordered the court cleared.

***

The case of Mr Bannerman vs West Shepton Constabulary resumed today in the high court. Justice Frog began the session with a brief address to both legal teams.

Frog:

Ladies, gentlemen. It is my profoundest wish that by the end of our time here today we should be well on our way to resolving this issue one way or the other. There was a great deal of mucking about yesterday which didn't cast our profession in a particularly good light, and I am keen to knock that sort of thing on the head. Got it? Good. Ms Gargle, the floor is yours.

Gargle:

Cheers Judge. Okey-dokey, I'd like to call Constable Geoff Perkins to the stand.

A tall, somewhat emaciated policeman in a badly-fitting helmet was steered to the stand by an official court handler.

Gargle:

You are Constable Geoff Perkins?

Perkins:

Oh yes, I am lady. Hello folks, how are you all doing?

Frog:

Constable Perkins, who are you talking to?

Perkins:

To the audience Your Honour.

Frog:

The audience? The audience?

Perkins:

Oh yes, the people over there in the box. Hi ya!

Frog:

That, Constable Perkins, is the jury. Please do not fraternize with them, you don't know where they've been. Carry on Ms Gargle.

Gargle:

Ta Judge. Constable Perkins, could you tell the court what part you played in the search of my client's office on the 14th February.

Perkins:

Yes miss. I was there to put the boot in, miss.

Gargle:

'Put the boot in'? Can you elucidate?

Perkins:

Not in public, miss. I don't think it's right proper.

Gargle:

What I mean is: can you explain what you mean by 'put the boot in'. What exactly do you put your boot into?

Perkins:

Into pretty much whatever I'm told to, miss. Which is pretty much everything.

Gargle:

I see, and were you present when documents were taken from Mr Bannerman's private files.

Perkins:

I should say so.

Gargle:

And did Mr Bannerman give his permission to take those documents?

Perkins:

No but -

Gargle:

Thank you, no further questions.

Perkins:

Yes, but we had a warrant -

Gargle:

Thank you, that will be all. Your Honour, I should like to call my next witness.

Wivens:

Hang on, don't I get a go!

Gargle:

Your Honour, is this strictly necessary?

Frog:

It is traditional for your opposite number to cross-examine the witness, I'm afraid.

Gargle:

Pah! There's a lot of rot talked about tradition. It would expedite matters enormously if we could just press on.

Frog:

You make a valid point.

Wivens:

I didn't get a go yesterday either. I'm pretty sure I should have got a go yesterday.

Gargle:

Your Honour, I don't think any useful purpose will be served by this delay. Now, may I please call my next witness?

Wivens:

Woah there! You're honour, who exactly is running this show: you or this snooty bitch?

Gargle:

Your Honour, I most strongly object. Might I remind my learned friend that it is not unprecedented for gobby bastards like him to get a smack.

Frog:

Mr Wivens, please modify your language. Try to remember that this is a court of law and that Ms Gargle is well known in legal circles for having a vicious right hook. Now, you may question the witness.

Gargle:

But Your Honour!

Frog:

Oh let him have a turn. He's won't shut up until he does and it's not as if it's going to make any difference.

Ms Gargle retired to her seat as Mr Wivens rose to question the witness.

Wivens:

Now then, Constable Perkins -

Perkins:

Do I get to sing my song now?

Wivens:

I beg your pardon?

Perkins:

The lads at the station said that if I came along and talked to the audience, the nice man in the wig would let me sing my song.

Wivens:

Your Honour?

Frog:

He's not going to start singing in my bastard court. Now get on with it.

Wivens:

Thank you, Your Honour. Now, Constable Perkins -

Perkins:

I'm not saying a thing until I get to do my song.

Wivens:

Might I remind you that this is a court of law and you are a serving police officer. You have an obligation to -

Perkins:

La la la la la la...

At this point the constable stuck his fingers in his ears and continued to make this disagreeable noise to the irritation of all present.

Wivens:

What are you doing?

Perkins:

... la la la la la la...

Frog:

Mr Wivens, how much more of the court's time do you intend to waste? You wanted to question the witness, kindly get on with it.

Wivens:

But he won't answer!

Perkins:

... la la la la la ...

Frog:

Proceed, Mr Wivens or I shall find you in contempt of court.

Wivens:

How is this my fault? This dumb prick is the one who is in contempt. Oh, for fuck's sake Constable, shut up!

Perkins:

... la la la la la ...

Wivens:

Look, Your Honour, can we not indulge him? I think it's the only way we'll get him to stop.

Frog:

All right, whatever, but make sure he's quick.

Wivens:

Constable Perkins, you may sing your song.

Perkins:

... la la la la - oh, thank you very much.

Constable Perkins then launched into a spirited rendition of Don't Cry for Me Argentina, at the culmination of which he received a standing ovation and there was not a dry eye in the house. From somewhere a child came forth with a bunch of flowers, which he received gracefully as the courtroom rang to the sounds of 'More! More!' The constable condescended to perform two encores before Justice Frog announced that nothing could possibly follow that and adjourned the session.

***

Day three in the case of Mr Bannerman vs West Shepton Constabulary began with some commotion amongst the plaintiff's legal team. Justice Frog impatiently enquired as to the cause.

Frog:

Ms Gargle, what is going on there? What are those bags you are handing round?

Gargle:

Party bags, Your Honour. It's my birthday.

Frog:

And do you think it is proper for someone in your profession to be interrupting important legal proceedings with this childish whimsy?

Gargle:

I have one for you as well, Your Honour.

Ms Gargle approached the bench and passed up a gaily coloured paper bag from which the judge removed a party blower, a plastic soldier, a small packet of sweets and a bottle of bubble mixture.

Frog:

Oh, I see. Well this is all rather splendid, isn't it? This little soldier man appears to be a sniper, how wonderful... However, ahem, there is a time and a place for everything. Let us not allow ourselves to be distracted and if you gentlemen at the back could desist from blowing bubbles, may we please proceed?

Gargle:

Certainly, I would like to call -

Wivens:

Just a minute. Look, this all seems a little one-sided to me. Day one, I don't get a look in at all. Yesterday I was upstaged by a singing copper. And today... well, today I didn't even get a party bag. I came back from my holidays early for this.

Gargle:

I suppose he's got a point.

Frog:

He has got a point, yes.

Wivens:

Does that mean I get to call a witness then?

Frog:

Nope. Carry on Ms Gargle.

Gargle:

Your Honour, I would like to call Mr Troy Bannerman.

Mr Bannerman approached the stand with a hop and a skip.

Bannerman:

Great! I wondered when you were going to get round to me.

Gargle:

You are Mr Troy Bannerman, are you not?

Bannerman:

No.

Gargle:

Err...

Bannerman:

Ah, had you there! Yes, yes I am Troy Bannerman.

Gargle:

Ah, good one!

Frog:

Jolly good, yes. What a marvellous sense of humour. Well done. We could do with more people like you, Mr Bannerman, it would cheer this place up no end.

Gargle:

I agree, Your Honour. Mr Bannerman, I wonder if you would be so kind as to look at this document. For the benefit of the jury, Mr Bannerman is being shown a printout of an email that was sent to a senior member of the current government. The subject of the email is not relevant at the current time.

Wivens:

The subject of the email is the offer of a cash payment in return for being awarded a lucrative government contract.

Frog:

Strike Mr Wivens's comments from the record. The jury will please disregard Mr Wivens's outburst. The content of the email has no material effect on this case and you will please remember that all our politicians are lovely and beyond any suspicion of corruption.

Gargle:

Thank you, Your Honour. Mr Bannerman, could you confirm that you are the author of that email?

Bannerman:

I am indeed.

Gargle:

And are you able to tell us how this email came to be in the possession of West Shepton Constabulary?

Bannerman:

I believe it was one of a number of documents stolen from my office.

Gargle:

Stolen?

Bannerman:

Stolen.

Frog:

Stolen?

Bannerman:

Yes, stolen.

Wivens:

Objection!

Frog:

Shut up.

Gargle:

Mr Bannerman, are you saying that this document was removed from your office without your consent?

Bannerman:

That is correct.

Gargle:

Your Honour, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. We have established that the document that has been examined in this court today is the intellectual property of Mr Bannerman. We have also established, via Mr Bannerman's testimony, that he did not give West Shepton Constabulary permission to remove and make use of the document. This assertion can be corroborated by reference to the earlier testimonies of Chief Constable Whatever-his-name-was and the extraordinary Sergeant Perkins, whose new album, I believe, is released tomorrow. In short, the fuzz have no legal or moral authority to use this material to prosecute my client and I therefore move that you grant an injunction on the grounds of habeas corpus, coup d'état and hee-bee gee-bee.

Frog:

Brilliant!

Gargle:

Thank you.

Frog:

You see - that's how it's done. Injunction granted!

Wivens:

No, no, no, no, no! No, no! This isn't right. Absolutely not!

Frog:

Are you still here?

Wivens:

What about the jury?

Frog:

Oh, this has got nothing to do with them. I don't know what they're doing here anyway. Right, who's up for getting chips? Chips anyone? Right, that's settled, let's go and get chips.

 

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