Tag Archives: courts

The U.K. legal system, where you are presumed guilty until proven innocent

Yesterday’s Sunday Herald on Luke Mitchell

I was reading a piece in Scotland’s Sunday Herald newspaper yesterday. I have absolutely no idea about the true facts or the guilt or innocence in this case, but there is an undeniable truth when the imprisoned guy says:

“The court system and the police, they’re not separate bodies, they’re all part of the state. The justice system isn’t there to protect you, it’s to get the conviction.”

The UK court system is inherently corrupt. It is not designed to uncover innocence or guilt. The police investigate a case and find the person they believe or claim they believe is guilty. That person is then presumed guilty unless he or she can (via an expensive paid advocate) prove themselves innocent or apparently innocent. The court prosecutes the person on the presumption of guilt and a judge or jury decides which of two paid advocates has constructed a better case.

It is a contest and career-building exercise between two highly-paid, trained debaters. The accused person is presumed guilty until and unless proven innocent. It is illegal for any jury member to attempt to check any evidence other than what is presented in court.

The Stefan Kisko case – the clearest miscarriage of justice

The only evidence which can be considered is the evidence of two trainee debaters paid to hide anything which might throw doubt on their own version of events.

Hiding facts is as important as presenting them. Points are effectively awarded for presentation, style, skill and content. The verdict is about which advocate has been a better performer. It is a bit like competitive ice skating with people’s lives, often on thin ice. Or like politics.

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The most feared comedy critic at the Edinburgh Fringe and her links to crime

Could this wordsmith have saved you from a prison sentence?

At this month’s Grouchy Club meeting in London, I talked to comedy critic Kate Copstick, one of the judges of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards.

“So,” I started, “you were trained as a lawyer in Scotland…”

“Yes, I did a law degree at Glasgow University because I watched Margaret Lockwood in the TV series Justice at a very impressionable age and I saw the original Witness For The Prosecution with Charles Laughton when my whole brain was malleable. I got this idea that lawyers were there to help people… I pause for laughter.

“I really just wanted to be an actress, but then my mum died very suddenly and my dad went to pieces and I thought: We must do something to cheer up my dad. What I had always done to cheer up my dad, my gran, my mum – anybody – was do something clever – win a prize, be first in the class, something.

“So I thought: Great! I will make him magically forget the love of his life to whom he has been married for 17 years has just died overnight of a brain haemorrhage… by announcing that I am going to do a law degree.”

“Very sensible,” I said. “How long was the course?”

“Four years for an Honours degree. And then, in Scotland, you do an apprenticeship and then, if you want to go to the Bar, you do devilling.”

“Devilling?”

“They call it pupilage in England.”

“You enjoyed your law course?”

“It was great. I was drunk through most of the degree.”

“And you were bonking…”

“Endlessly. I fucked people for the same reason people climb mountains. Because they’re there.”

On his death in 2015, the Telegraph called Joe a man of “integrity and passion”

“And you wanted to be…?”

“A criminal lawyer and the really, really famous guy who all the criminals in Glasgow went to was Joe Beltrami. He was a phenomenal lawyer who judged nobody and absolutely gave everybody the best defence they could get. They had never had any women working for them other than as secretaries but I persuaded Joe Beltrami and did my apprenticeship with them and it was – fucking hell! – a bit of an eye-opener.”

“You were not doing motoring offences…”

“No. They only did the biggies – murder, armed robbery, rape. So I spent most of my time interviewing witnesses, talking to the police, collecting bits-and-bobs of evidence at prisons or in the High Court. It was a TOTAL eye-opener.”

“At what point,” I asked, “did you discover there was no justice?”

“Fairly early on. It completely turned the way I thought about… the way I thought about everything. I had just come out of university. What the fuck did I know? Nothing.”

“Why did you stop being involved in the legal system?”

“One reason was that I was just getting so angry. Because of the unfairness of the system. You see an actual policeman standing there just lying. Not being mistaken, but telling a direct lie and then two of his friends stepping up and saying: Yes, I can corroborate what DC So-and-so was saying. Seeing that and knowing there is nothing you can do about it because the jury are thinking: It’s the police. So it’s true…

The Scottish media called Walter Norval Glasgow’s Godfather & “first crime boss”

“I learned more and more that you can be found guilty because your accent is wrong, because you look wrong, because you don’t know the right words. You can be found innocent because you have a posh fucking Eton accent and you can see the jury thinking: He’s such a nice chap; how can he have possibly done that? And there is nothing legally you can do about it, because the law is just a big boys’ game. If you try and go up against that, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

“I only know the English system,” I said, “not the Scottish system, but isn’t the whole basis of the court system that you are not judging whether someone is innocent or guilty, you are judging which of two legal eagles is putting forward a better case and which is the more credible liar?”

“It’s all shite, John,” said Copstick. “I was at the point where I was thinking: Well, if the police are going to lie, then I will lie. And, that way, absolute madness lies.”

“I once,” I said, “talked to (a former Conservative Prime Minister)’s personal solicitor. He was a top city solicitor. And he told me he would never put a Metropolitan Police officer into the witness box without corroboration because you could never guarantee they were telling the truth.”

“The scariest people I ever met in Glasgow,” said Copstick, “were members of the Serious Crimes Squad.”

“Joe Beltrami,” I said, “was Arthur Thompson’s lawyer, wasn’t he? So that is very serious stuff.”

“I never met Arthur Thompson,” Copstick replied. “But one of the clients I worked with was a guy called Walter Norval, who was known as The Glasgow Godfather. That would be at the end of the 1970s or the early 1980s, I guess. His speciality was armed robbery. He was another nail in the coffin of my legal career.

“This was a man who had stood like a colossus over the criminal world of Glasgow… allegedly… for many years with many armed bank robberies. Nobody particularly got hurt. But there were a load of sawn-off shotguns going around and a load of banks robbed. Generally speaking he was never at the robberies. He was the mastermind. You don’t get Mr Marks and Mr Spencer on the shop floor offering 2-for-1 on knickers.

Daily Record reported Norval’s 2014 funeral.

“Walter Norval was arrested. The big evidence the police had was that he had gone from the site of an armed bank robbery, driven home and parked his brown Ford Granada car outside his house with four sawn-off shotguns in the boot – like yer average criminal mastermind does. And that was what he got convicted on.

“I went in and saw him afterwards and asked him: Is this not driving you absolutely mental? It was all a lie! 

“He said: Well, to be honest, there’s a lot of things I’ve done that I’ve got away with and this I did not do but it sort of evens-out.

“And I thought: But that doesn’t excuse it! This is criminal policing at the highest level. And they’re fucking liars. I was just too angry. I was getting too angry. And angry gets you nowhere in law. Especially as a female. Emotion gets you nowhere.

“You have to know when you’re beaten. I would have ended up being found out to have fiddled something. It just made me so angry.”

“If a crime is committed in England,” I said, “the police investigate the crime and find the person they believe committed the crime. Then they go to the Crown Prosecution Service who decide if, on a balance of probability, they will get a Guilty verdict in court. In court, it’s nothing to do with finding out the facts because the facts have already been investigated and the accused is presumed to be guilty unless ‘proven’ innocent. In court, it’s about two trained liars in a competition to see which performs better.”

“Up to a point,” said Copstick. “It’s a game. It’s like chess. I think what you’re struggling to say is that there is a massive dichotomy between law and justice.”

“I went to a grammar school,” I said, “which was a bit up itself. So it had a ‘debating society’ and the most admirable thing you could do there was argue on and win a proposition you did not believe in yourself. To me, that’s dishonesty. But that’s the basis of the legal system. You are very argumentative.”

“Yes,” agreed Copstick.

“Once you decide to take one side,” I suggested, “you will argue that case come what may.”

“Now I can be Devil’s Advocate,” said Copstick. “Back then, I was completely incapable of doing that.”

The argumentative side of Copstick will be on show next month when she and I host the daily Grouchy Club at the Edinburgh Fringe 14th-27th August, as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival. The Grouchy Club has been labelled by The Scotsman as “a talking shop for comics riding the emotional rollercoaster of the Edinburgh Fringe” and by me as “a rolling Copstick diatribe”.

After the Fringe finishes, the Grouchy Club continues monthly in London.

For anyone on the receiving end of one of her comedy reviews in Edinburgh – Best of luck.

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How the English court system works (?)

The figure of Justice - blindfolded to avoid seeing any truths

The figure of Justice – blindfolded to avoid seeing any untruths – and truths

To save myself from having to write a blog today when all I want to do is sleep – the result of over three weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe – here is a blog about something which happened this week over ten years ago in England.

Someone I know was starting two weeks of Jury Service in a court somewhere in England. He told me:

Day One

None of us got picked today…. There was a lot of waiting around then they sent us all home… I ended up chatting with a right demographic mix, including… a 40-year-old grammar schoolboy self-made Tory-voting string-em-up merchant web designer; a local councillor very lefty with bleeding heart and social conscience (great arguments between those two!); an oldie female retired teacher; a young (22) ‘lad’ carpenter of some type; a young single mum from a council estate (“I dunno nuffink about politix”) and me…. And that was just the smokers!

The fault of the system is this… Most self-employed people don’t want to be there (big loss of earnings – it’s costing me a grand!!!). Most middle class with good jobs don’t want to be there. (They were all the ones moaning they had tried to get out of it )… So you are left with the unemployed, retired and immigrants whose first language definitely ain’t English…. But hey …That’s democracy! or is it?

Day Two

I got picked today…. Going into the court room was awe-inspiring… I had to remind myself this wasn’t telly…. Half my jury could barely read the affirmation. Then it was my turn, so I gave my best performance… and everyone after me then gave it a bit of welly too!

It is a nasty little case – GBH/drugs… Quite complicated too. We were sent home early – 3.30pm – as the two barristers needed to do a bit of thrashing things out. It is by no means cut and dried. My brain hurt at the end of the day.

Day Three

I went to see the trial myself.

A 20 year-old Bengali is accused of cutting the throat of another 20 year-old Bengali, exposing his windpipe. He is accused not of attempted murder but of GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm). His defence is that he was at home all evening. On the evening of the offence, the police came and broke down his door to find him on the phone (he was calling the police because someone was breaking down his door). There was blood on the stairs, the floor, his bedspread and his hand. He said he had cut his finger at college that afternoon.

Forensic DNA tests showed it was, indeed, all his blood and that none of his blood was at the murder scene, nor was any of the victim’s blood on the accused’s clothes. The victim said the accused man was a drug dealer and that he (the victim) hated drugs and drug dealers. Unfortunately for him, the defence knew he had been addicted to crack and heroin, was on methadone and had been convicted of manslaughter.

The prosecution produced two diaries found at the accused’s address which they claimed showed the accused was a drug dealer. Unfortunately, the defence pointed out one of the diaries was not in his handwriting and was partially in Bengali, a language he can neither read or write. The other diary, they contested, was the diary of a drug taker not a dealer – and the accused admitted he took drugs.

While the jury was out, the prosecutor told a detective there to give evidence: “If this guy gets off, it will seriously prejudice the whole case” and “The evidence fitted in better in the other trial”. The accused is related to a criminal Bengali family.

The jury comprised six blacks, one Asian Moslem and five whites. Three of the blacks, strangely, were Nigerians. My friend on the jury told me that one of the black women had arrived 20 minutes late that morning saying, quite unconcerned: “Oh, you could have started without me”.

Day Four

I went to the court again.

The judge gave a rambling colloquial summing up which non-native English speakers would have found unclear. After about two hours (around 4.30pm) the jury gave their verdict – partly because it was a Friday afternoon and, if they had not decided, then they would have had to continue on Monday and some of them were ‘second weekers’ – you are called to Jury Service for two weeks. If the final case runs over the two weeks, then you have to stay until it is concluded.

My friend told me that, when they went into the jury room, there were an initial six for Guilty, five were undecided and one wanted Not Guilty. My friend was the jury foreman. He went round the jury asking initially whether they thought the accused man was guilty. One woman asked: “Which one?” She had not been clear who had been on trial and thought perhaps he was the victim.

I am not going to say whether the jury found the accused man Guilty or Not Guilty.

You can toss your own coin.

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How I forgot what happened in a British court in 1999 and what really happened

The figure of Justice - blindfolded to avoid seeing any truths

.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog headed A Rare Case of British Justice about a court case which happened in 1999, when I had to write a character reference for someone I knew who was being prosecuted for a second time over the same incident.

‘Harry Hardwicke’ (not his real name) had been found guilty about a year before over something he had done, but had been given a sentence which the police considered too lenient.

Now, over a year later, they were prosecuting him again over the same incident.

He had been driving with his girlfriend and a male and female friend in a car. The two men were in the front; the two girls were in the back. A police car, for whatever reason, appeared behind him and signalled him to pull over. Harry was about to do this when the man beside him lifted up a small bag containing pills and said: “You can’t stop. They’ll search the car.”

Harry accelerated, pursued by the police car. They drove towards his fellow passengers’ home. The other man suddenly said: “Pull in here”. It was a narrow entry and, by the time Harry had pulled off the road, the police car had caught up with them. All four jumped out of the car and ran away. The man with the bag of pills had time to bury it under a tree.

Harry kept away for a while but, when he returned, his girlfriend and the two friends were arguing loudly with the police.

His girlfriend and the other girl had had time to talk about the situation and realised that only Harry’s girlfriend could admit to having driven the car. Harry was banned from driving; the other man was banned from driving; the other girl had no licence. So only Harry’s girlfriend could legally have driven the car.

The police believed (wrongly) that they had seen four men in the car and seen the car being driven by a man in his early 20s.

Harry and his girlfriend gave statements saying she had been driving but, in the meantime, the other man told the police Harry had been driving.

So the police were able to charge Harry with six offences: perverting the course of justice (for the false statement), driving while banned (twice), driving without insurance (twice) and failing to stop when commanded to by the police.

He faced two charges of driving while banned and two charges of driving without insurance because, in each case, the first charge referred to the occasion when he was stopped by the police. The second charge in each case was because, when he was arrested, the police found a petrol receipt in his wallet therefore, they reasoned, he must have committed the offence of driving while banned and without insurance on another occasion too.

The police had then taken the immense time, trouble and expense of going to the garage and going through the video security camera’s tape until they found pictures showing Harry buying the petrol and driving off at the time the receipt in his pocket stated (and getting into the driver’s side of the car).

The charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The police said, if they failed with this serious charge, they would then prosecute him on the less serious charges of driving while banned and driving without insurance.

In court, Harry’s solicitor was able to get the prosecutor (a young woman who lived next door to Harry’s solicitor) to drop the failing-to-stop charge.

Harry and his girlfriend pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice; this triggers an automatic jail sentence. The girlfriend got two months in Holloway; Harry got four months in an open prison. Both got the normal 50% remission on their sentences, so they served one and two months. The lesser charges were left to lie “on file”.

Now, more than a year later, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to prosecute Harry on the lesser charges of driving while banned and driving without insurance.

Harry was sent a summons to appear in a magistrate’s court, but had been avoiding opening official-looking envelopes on the basis they might be bills which he couldn’t pay. On Saturday 2nd January 1999, he was arrested at home by police for not appearing in court. They held him in London until the Monday morning, when he was taken down to a court outside London.

So now Harry was being charged with – on two occasions – driving while banned and driving without insurance.

I wrote in my blog two weeks ago that he received a conditional discharge in court. In fact, my memory was faulty. He did not.

He appeared in court this week in 1999. At the time, I kept an electronic diary. So what follows, as written in that diary, is true:

__________

At court with Harry Hardwicke for his sentencing. I collected him and his three children, depositing the children with his ex-wife and then carried on to the court.

Harry told me he had yet another new solicitor. The last one was busy and the founder of the firm had come out of retirement to help out, as he sometimes does. He was old, tall, thin, bald, bronzed and bright-eyed.

We had been called for 2.30pm. The case before Harry’s somehow involved a small, wiry middle-aged woman with a nervous look and curly brown hair; a teenage girl with short dyed-blonde hair; and a youth of about 18 with short mousey hair. I guessed it was a mother and her two kids. Before that case was due to restart, their solicitor came through and said to the woman: “There’s no reason for you to be nervous.” – “No,” the woman said, agreeing.

Halfway through their hearing, as Harry and I sat outside in the waiting area, the mother emerged, red-eyed, and sat with her back to us, sobbing. After a few minutes, she went back in. A few minutes later, the daughter emerged, blubbering tears and sobs and went outside sobbing. Later, she went back into court. Eventually all three emerged, shaking with emotion, the woman and girl crying. The girl was sobbing hysterically to the mother: “He won’t be able to take it. He’s already tried to top himself twice. He’ll never be able to face it.”

At this point, their solicitor emerged, ashen-faced.

“Was it me?” the mother asked him. “Was it me walking out of the court in tears?”

“No, no,” the solicitor reassured her.

“I did my best,” she sobbed on. “I gave evidence, didn’t I? I did my best.”

“Yes,” the solicitor said reassuringly. “Yes, you did.”

Then all four left the building,

“That doesn’t fill me with confidence in the softness of the magistrates,” said Harry, looking glum.

His previous solicitor had told Harry he thought he might get away with two weeks in prison plus a fine with costs awarded against him. The ‘dream outcome’ might be a community service order. The Probation Officer’s pre-trial report (they had met on Wednesday and Harry had broken down in tears during the meeting) suggested the “highly unusual option” of giving him a conditional discharge for two years.

But, in court, the magistrates rejected the Probation Officer’s report and the solicitor’s suggestions and said they were taking the “highly unusual” option of giving Harry an absolute discharge with no fine and no costs awarded against him… but they did impose a six month driving ban to start today, knowing that he is already banned from driving until June next year, so it has no practical effect.

Harry’s solicitor was gobsmacked: he said he hadn’t even attempted to argue for an absolute discharge because he didn’t think it was a possibility. He also thought the magistrates were actually wrong in law in that they could not give someone an ABSOLUTE discharge AND a driving ban, even if the ban had no practical effect because the person was already banned.

After I drove Harry home, we had a chat. He broke up with his girlfriend about a week ago (the long-term one who had been involved in the original court case).

On his own laptop, he had stumbled on an email which his girlfriend had written. It was to a female friend she had made while in prison and said she had re-met a man she had had an affair with a year ago and was again sleeping with him and liked him very much. She thought the relationship had a future etc. But she was not going to leave Harry yet. Her message said:

I am going to leave Harry not just yet but as soon as I can get myself together. I have to lie to him because I have so much to lose. I have to get myself somewhere else to live and some money into the bank.

I am seeing (she gave the boyfriend’s name) and we are both totally mad about each other. This is not why I am leaving Harry. I am leaving Harry because now I am not off my head I am now awake. I cannot continue. I gave a go. I tried to make it work, it hasn’t and now I am ready to move on.

I feel so good at the moment I can barely wait to start over. I have no idea where I am going to go or what I am going to do but I am overwhelmed. It’s weird how different life can feel if you make a change. I have no intention of telling Harry my plans. It will be better for both of us this way. I am not in a situation where I can just leave now.

All my love

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x x x x
x x x x x
x x x x

Harry told me it was her lying that took him aback because “she used to be so honest”.

He went on to me about how much money she cost him and how much he realised too late was “going up her nose”. When I said I thought the cocaine might have had something to do with her change into constant lying because it changes people’s personalities without them knowing, he did not agree – presumably because he still takes it himself.

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A rare case of British justice

Fifteen years ago today – in 1999 – I had to write a statement for a court about someone I knew who was standing trial for the second time over the same incident. He had been found guilty about a year before over something he had done, but had been given a very short sentence – something the police clearly considered too lenient. Now, over a year later, they had prosecuted him again on a more serious charge related to the same incident. This is the statement I wrote. I have changed his name to Harry Hardwicke (nothing like his real name) and have blanked-out some identifying details:

__________

I have known Harry Hardwicke for about 20 years. We worked together briefly at ***** in ***** then later at ***** in *****, ***** in ***** and ***** in *****. I have also known him personally over those years, when he had three separate long-term loving relationships, including his marriage. He has stayed friends with these ex-girlfriends. He has always been an outgoing person – ‘life and soul of the party’ is a phrase that could have been coined for Harry. I have seen him regularly but not often over the years – perhaps every three or four months so I can, perhaps more than most, see the changes in him.

When I visited ***** Open Prison where he was incarcerated for two months over the same incident he has now been charged with again, I was rather taken aback by the change I saw in Harry: he was extremely quiet and noticeably withdrawn. In my ignorance, I thought life in an open prison would be rather ‘cushy’. That was certainly not the case for him. The imprisonment and separation from his three children, on whom he dotes, had taken such a visible toll that I was shocked by the effect on him. He was also upset and concerned by his inability to be available should his mentally ‘delicate’ sister suffer one of her not-too-uncommon relapses. (Although no danger to anyone else, she has been in-and-out of mental institutions over the 20 years I have known Harry and he is, in effect, her only family member.)

As both Harry and I are British males born in the 1950s, confiding innermost thoughts to each other is not a normal thing except in extremis. But, in the months after his release from prison, he did frequently tell me in person and on the telephone how he had despaired in prison and the shame he felt as a result of having been imprisoned. He despaired to the extent of not wanting to see or be seen by anybody. I believe at one time he was almost suicidal with despair.

He seemed to be coming out of this depression in the last few months of 1998 – before this case reared its head again. He had only just started to pick up the threads of his life and his career which would certainly be broken again should he be imprisoned once more.

Two very visible effects the ***** Open Prison sentence had on his personality was to damage his normally reliable work – his concentration on release was affected by depression – and to devastatingly damage his relationship with his long-term girlfriend. His severe depression and abnormal introversion caused a very painful breakup in the relationship though they have since slowly and successfully patched things up.

Harry is petrified of going to prison again, petrified by shame and embarrassment at the effect his actions have had on his children and on the relationship in which he puts so much hope. I believe he has already suffered disproportionately for his admitted crime – certainly way beyond the intention of his original sentence.

Should his character be broken again by imprisonment, I have no doubt that these additional strains could be nothing but devastatingly harmful to his long-term relationship, enormously destabilising for his children, abnormally destructive to his career and totally destabilising for his mental condition.

__________

Harry received a conditional discharge. A rare case of justice in the UK.

* * *

A couple of weeks after I wrote the above, I found out it was factually incorrect. For the real outcome, see HERE.

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A £60 government cheque and “for the second year running, no-one got shot”

Was a German allowed to live in one of these houses in 1987?

Was a German allowed to live in one of these houses in 1987?

I am staying with my eternally-un-named friend’s friend Rudiger in Nuremberg. In the 1980s, he lived in London and remembers one particular house.

“It was 15 Ronalds Road,” he told us. “A little street just up from the Holloway Road in London.”

“And you were squatting there?” I asked.

“I was young,” explained Rudiger. “I knew your eternally-un-named friend… and London was the place to be in 1987.”

“It was?” I asked.

“Two of my German friends,” said Rudiger, “they were a boy and a girl. They went to London and squatted in the house; I came after them a week later and, when I arrived in the house, it was the day they decided to split up. They went back to Germany and I stayed in this house alone.

“They split up because the girl met a photographer in London. He gave her a job and threw her out of the house at the same time, because she could then get Social Security payments from the state. I think it was £60 every month.

“She told me: I will be getting this £60 and, when the cheque comes, go to the post office and take the money for yourself.

“That was my first money in England.

“The cheque came. It was written in the girl’s name, but it was a German name and the man in the post office did not realise this. I got the £60 cheque three times and then it stopped coming – I don’t know why.

“Then someone knocked on the door of the house and asked me if I was allowed to live there and I said I don’t know. Am I? and I had to go to a court. There were no people’s names written down – just addresses.

“15 Ronalds Road was on the list and about twenty other roads and numbers, but the only people there in the court were me and a very drunken Scottish man. He was muttering, then the door opened and someone took me into a court and they said 15 Ronalds Road? I said Yes and there were three judges wearing wigs and it was a funny show.

“One asked me: What’s your name? 

Rudiger Schmidt

Are you allowed to live in 15 Ronalds Road?

I don’t know. Tell me.

“The judge said: If you don’t know, then you are not allowed to live there. Thankyou very much. Now, next case… and that was it.

“You had to pay a fine?” I asked.

“No,” said Rudiger. “I asked someone in the court I am not allowed to live there? What shall I do? and the woman said Do nothing. You will get sent a letter and, in this letter, you will be told whether you have to leave or not… And I never got a letter.”

“So how long did you live there?” I asked.

“After this judge told me this,” said Rudiger “I lived there maybe six or seven weeks.”

Phil Zimmerman’s hi-tech bedroom

An angry man with a big hammer objected to what happened

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, this morning I got a message from comedian Phil Zimmerman in London

I blogged a couple of weekends ago about going to his potentially dangerous annual party. It is held at his mostly-normal-looking house in Ealing, West London.

I say his parties are ‘potentially dangerous’ because, in 2011, a neighbour started taking potshots at the late-night revellers with an air rifle.

I only passed fleetingly through the early section of this year’s party.

“After you left,” he told me this morning, “there was live music on the bedroom stage and a very loud noise band came on at about 1.20 am, whereupon a very angry man with a big hammer appeared at the front door. Fortunately, we had a bigger bouncer there to scare him away. For the second year running, no-one got shot.

“Although I have been involved with these parties for about eight years now, I can’t take any credit for the weird and wonderful set up, which is all the masterwork of my Buddhist mate and landlord Johnny Fags N Booze, aka Nigel Noize – or, as my friend Robert called him, the new Andy Warhol.

“He is planning to enter the house for the Turner Prize at some point.”

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