Making waves in the justice world at the moment is the hitherto unreported libel case of Townsend. V. C. Box. It seems injunctions may have been operating which is why neither of the parties has mentioned it in public. The Bureau will print the extracts it receives from its sources as we get them.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
The Lord MisKlaudie of Dee, sitting without a jury.
Extract from the opening speech by counsel for Mr Townsend.
(The judge is - we quote from Who Sues Who? the factbook of the legal profession - the Lord Misklaudie of Dee, known by his colleagues, for obvious reasons, as Lawdy Miss Clawdy. A small, late-middle aged,genial figure with gold rimless spectacles he presides with friendly and informal dignity. Mr Llewelly Davis QC, aged forty, is a rising figure in the legal world, whose questions describe him better than we can.)
Mr Llewelly Davis QC:…omnium prevorum or even omnium odium would then apply,my Lord. But this is an entirely different matter. The claimant, Mr Townsend, took action against the defendant on the grounds that his claims were not merely defamatory and ultra vires –Judge: Mr Davis, a little less of the Latin might be better today.
Davis: I apologise my Lord. As I said, Mr Townsend is a known researcher and public campaigner who has led a blameless life. He is a particular authority on dogs, my Lord.
Judge: Dogs? What sort of dogs? Pet dogs?
Davis: I understand they are Springer Spaniels mainly, my Lord.
Judge: Ah, gundogs. That's different.
Davis: If I could continue outlining –
Judge: Of course.
Davis: An authority on dogs and other matters, including the naval history of gunpowder at Gosport, where the claimant resides, my Lord. He is a well-respected member of the community. He also comments widely on the internet which features large in his life.
Judge: Does it? Oh dear.
Davis: And there is no doubt of his standing. That is a matter of importance when we look at the claim.
Judge: Yes, yes, I appreciate that. What is the essence of it?
Davis: My Lord, I was about to deal with that. It is, I have no hesitation in saying, an unprecedented claim in legal annals. In terms, the defendant has asserted on numerous occasions that no such person as Mr Townsend exists and continues to make this assertion.
Judge: That seems rather silly to me, Mr Davis. Couldn’t they have settled it over a cup of tea?
Davis: There was a pre-trial arbitration meeting between the parties, my Lord, as per the protocol, but it was aborted when the defendant claimed that Mr Townsend was not present in the room. The defendant not only looked under the desk at which they both sat, according to Mr Townsend, but ostentatiously lifted the trilby hat off Mr Townsend’s head, sniffed inside it, put it on the desk and said, [reads out from brief]the actual words were, “See? There’s nobody under there.” This claim brought the meeting to an abrupt end, my Lord.
Judge: I trust, Mr Davis, that we are not straying into the grounds of frivolity.
Davis: By no means, my Lord. The defendant has claimed a defence of truth, something that has never happened in this context before. He claims, my Lord, that Mr Townsend is actually dead. As dead as a...as a...
[spectators lean forward expectantly as one]
Judge: [indulges them and leans back] As a parrot, Mr Davis?
[Uproar in court]
Davis: [after order restored] [smiles indulgently] Your Lordship's knowledge of the mot juste is unexampled, my Lord. But Mr Townsend claims that this is a very serious matter -
Judge: Is it? That's not how it appears from the bench.
Davis: Mr Townsend states that the shock of having his reality, and if I may be so bold as to add, his humanity, questioned has not only caused him immense mental distress but, due to childhood experiences which he has not expanded upon, actually caused a serious mental breakdown. It made he himself question whether he is in fact alive.
Judge: That could form the basis of agreement between the parties, if rather a perverse one, couldn't it? Or am I being flippant?
Davis: Medical evidence will be presented ab initio indicating the seriousness of the problem, my Lord. It is an extremely serious matter for the claimant.
Judge: I shouldn't have said that, I really shouldn't. But I plead the effect of the bizarre nature of this case in my defence. I keep getting the feeling that you are making this up. Look, are the two parties aware of the costs that bringing this case to trial will eventuate?
Davis: They are, my Lord. The question of funding will be considered later.Judge: Is he recovered?
Davis: [quick as a flash]Which one?
Judge: The claimant, Mr Davis
Davis: [pauses] With respect, my Lord, this case it not one where it is easy to answer a question like that.
Judge: [perplexed] Very well. Of course, I hope he is.
Davis: [carefully] As an example, my Lord, of the territory we are entering [searches through pages] the defence have asked that the defendant may give evidence later in the case –
Judge: I greatly look forward to that.
Davis: Wearing a square box over its head.
[profound silence in court]
Judge: Mr Davis, I think this may be time for an adjournment.
Davis: [innocently] You may wonder why I referred to the defendant as "it", my lord. The defendant has also asked to be addressed in the witness box, while wearing a large square box on the head, in gender-neutral terms, My Lord. He or she wishes to be addressed merely as Textusa, or T. [pauses]. On human rights grounds. [pauses again, lengthily] And on national security grounds.
Judge: [fanning himself with a Manilla folder] Are either of these two here today?Davis: [looks slowly and deliberately around the court as though on a ship’s bridge] I see nobody there.
[loud laughter in court]
Judge: I mentioned frivolity earlier, Mr Davis. That was not worthy of you.
Davis: I apologise my Lord. No, neither of them are here today. My Lord, if I could just conclude. In the case of Eliot V Mr Chomondly-Brogue-Whacker-Ragland-Fars-Rasta-Spliff-Mann, after lengthy consideration in 1983, the court ruled that subject to rigid identification measures and for the retention of the dignity of the court, the defendant could be referred to by agreement as Shaggy.
Judge: I remember that from studying. That judge was having no nonsense and nor am I. He was an excellent shot, by the way. I'll think that one over but now the strange nature of this case demands a rest for all of us.
Davis: With your permission, my Lord.[passes note]
Judge: [after a minute's reading] I want to address the public for a moment. Some of the material you have heard sounds like jovial invention. Mr Davis has asked me to point out that, while it has its, I think I said bizarre, side both parties are maintaining that they are telling the truth and that the public have been witness to the alleged claims made. There are indeed internet web sites, easily found on Google, where these claims are being discussed with absolute seriousness, however hard that is to believe, or however mad or comical they might sound to people like us. We must endeavour not to mock.
Court was adjourned for the afternoon.
More as we get it.