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Private Eye
Private Eye (London), February 27, 1970


Mr Justice Lawandorder sums up

 GENTLEMEN of the Jury, I must warn you first of all that you must put aside any personal antipathy you may feel towards the defendant Mr Horst Wessel. Just because you may think, as I do, that he is a shifty two-faced rogue intent on discrediting a fine outstanding hero of the British war effort, that is no reason for being too hard on the fellow.

There are, as I see it, four questions on which you must decide.

Firstly, you must decide whether or not the plaintiff Capt. Myne-Sweeper should receive damages, and you may feel that the heroic Capt. Myne-Sweeper is more than entitled to them.

Secondly, you must reflect on whether the sum of £1 million would be sufficient to compensate this latter-day Nelson for what you may think is a shocking and totally unfounded slur upon his magnificent character.

Thirdly, I must ask you to consider whether such a sum is not totally inadequate when compared to the monstrous smear on his reputation made by a mercenary and totally unprincipled hack of the type you see before you in the shape of the defendant, the repulsive slit-eyed Mr Horst Wessel.

Fourthly, you must debate among yourselves whether the sum of £2 million would not in the light of the foregoing considerations be an altogether more appropriate amount to restore to the bemedalled hero of tho seven seas some semblance of his reputation, now so grossly besmirched by this monster In human form, I refer of course to this two-faced wielder of the poison pen, the evil self-styled defendant whose name I can no longer bring myself to utter.

There is one other small matter of law on which I feel it is my duty to advise you. When you return to the box following your deliberations I shall put to you the question: "Do you find for the plaintiff or the defendant ?" You should then reply, quite simply, "For the plaintiff" - and by that I shall understand you to refer to the valiant old sea-dog Capt. Myne-Sweeper , who saved this country from her enemies during the dark days of the war.

You may now retire.

[Lord Justice Lawton died in February 2001. See The Daily Telegraph Tuesday, February 6, 2001 for obituary]

Related file: The PQ.17 Libel Action (J E Broome vs Cassell & Irving) 1970

, February 27, 1970

[Mr Justice Lawton's summing-up in the PQ17 Libel action was seen by many British news papers as one-sided, and many printed editorial columns about it. Private Eye summed it up in this satirical skit.]

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