This is not uncommon at the Bar. If I had a pound for every time a learned friend had tried to persuade his colleagues of the significance of some tangential piece of unused material whilst stuffing down a sausage roll in an advocate’s canteen, I would not be worrying at the government’s latest plans to finish off the publicly funded Bar.
A repeat offender I remember, hobbit-like in build, once persuaded me that the dark stain on an “A-Z” found in the car of a person later attacked in the street by our clients was dried blood, showing that the victim had already been bleeding before he left his vehicle. Further analysis proved it to be smears from a Kit-Kat he had himself inadvertently deposited on the book, presumably whilst examining the exhibit during a break in the Mess. Other pages showed traces of fried egg which he had wolfed down simultaneously.
Surprisingly, the accurate account from Jason was extracted with remarkable ease by my newly acquired junior, Henrietta Briar-Pitt. The original junior had been sacked for making personal observations about Jason’s hair to which our lay client took umbrage. At first sight, the choice of Miss Briar-Pitt to represent Grimble was peculiar. He was such a drip, whereas, as this diary has recorded before, Hetty lived for her horses and the only kind of man who interested her even vaguely was the Heathcliff type, preferably with boots and a crop. However, opposites attract and Hetty took this fledgling soul under her wing.
We arrived at Belmarsh in the normal state of depression, but our consultation at the prison went remarkably quickly. After we had gone through the usual nightmare of gaining access, Hetty got down to business. “Now young man,” she said, as if addressing a colt that was off its food, “what’s all this malarkey about going into the judge’s flat at night?” “We’d been before,” said Jason. “Moses used to wash his car and do handyman things.” “So,” said Hetty, as I sat there like a spare part with an admiring Mr Bretforton, our instructing solicitor, “no funny stuff?” “Oh no, miss” said Jason. “Then the lord went out to get Moses his money. Moses got up and started nickin’ bits of silver and everything. The lord came back and they, like, scrapped. I tried to break ‘em up, but Moses punched him in the throat and he went down like a sack of spuds with blood spurtin’ everywhere. I got it all over me. I fell on to the wall - that’s why me prints were there in the lord’s blood.”
I had never heard him speak with such eloquence and brevity, even if Claude Allerick was not a lord, spiritual or temporal. I pointed out that he had not mentioned Moses’ presence to the police. “Course not,” said Hetty, “haven’t you heard of grassing?” Then, without referring to me for a learned opinion, she added: “All this goes down in the DCS!” I took this to be a reference to that document, the Defence Case Statement, in which you tell the Prosecution all your good points so it has plenty of time to knock them down.
When I returned to Chambers, Andrew, our Senior Clerk, wanted a word. He seemed almost embarrassed about something. “I don’t suppose you take the News of the ******, sir?” Despite the rhyming slang, I took him to mean the famous Sunday newspaper that unbeknown to me was about to be put out of circulation. I confirmed I did not. This was the truth, but not the whole truth. True, it was not delivered chez Byfield, but I might just pick one up during my Sunday walk to the Nag’s Head. It is important for criminal barristers to swim in the murky waters of current scandals, however distasteful it may prove, so as to be “current” with juries.
“We’ve had your mobile phone company on the blower, sir,” he said gingerly, “you haven’t been receiving compromising messages on your mobile have you, by any chance?” I gave him a weak smile and retreated into my room...
William Byfield is the pseudonym of a senior member of the Bar. Gutteridge Chambers, and the events that happen there, are entirely fictitious.