And I am sooooo glad that I have. Because
what’s just happened is astonishing.
Feeling extremely pleased with himself at having extracted his first confession out
of me, barrister Andrew Bruce has
just done something extraordinary. He
has put his tongue into the bottom right side of his cheek and held it there, looking
at His Lordship, waiting for a second to make sure he has His Lordship’s attention
and then slowly, tongue still in lower right cheek, he has cocked his head at a slight
angle, pursed his lips and given His Lordship a half-wink, a kind of conspiratorial
look between Judges which I think Andrew
Bruce intends to say ‘Well, there you are, Your Lordship, this man is a liar
and I have just demonstrated it.’.
But I can hardly contain myself – I want to laugh out loud. You
see, there is a pub game doing the rounds which requires participants to demonstrate
their ‘sex face’. In other words, to
try and pull the face that they make when, during sexual intercourse, the proceedings
have just reached their objective, so to speak.
Now down at the pub this is quite funny and it can be guaranteed to have everyone
falling about laughing, especially when alcohol has lubricated the participants to
the point where it becomes competitive and folk try to make the most extraordinarily
But for one brief, terrifying, ‘Reginald Perrin’ type moment, in my mind’s eye I can
see Mr Bruce looking upon Mrs Bruce, having made his point so to speak, and giving
her that same conspiratorial look, as if to say ‘Well, there you are then, my dear,
my mission is accomplished.’. But this
is now; not in the bedroom, nor the pub, but here, in Courtroom 66 of the Royal Courts
of Justice. As far as I’m concerned, Andrew
Bruce has just made his sex face to a High Court Judge. And
that’s it. Mr Bruce has delivered up
to me the method by which I will take him on. The
perfect instrument for me in the psychological battle of wills that is to come.
I need to make sure that I have really seen what I think I have seen and that I’m
not imagining things under my medication. So
I’m going to let him win another point just to be sure. I
can’t honestly concentrate on what he’s asking because I just want to agree with whatever Andrew
Bruce says and watch his face to see what happens next.
Yes! There it is again. Andrew Bruce’s
And with that image burned excruciatingly into my psyche, I am now determined that
no one who is prepared to make their sex face in the High Court to a Judge is going
to get the better of me. No, no, no,
no, no. Not now. Not
ever. Never. So
bring it on, Andrew Bruce. Bring
Mr Bruce may have backed me into a corner about that e-mail, but that’s going to be
the last of his big wins. From now on,
every time barrister Andrew
Bruce fires a question at me I’m just going to imagine his sex face and use
the excruciating image as a means of delaying matters so I can collect my thoughts. That
will give me the chance to remind myself of the evidence on the point and disproved
whatever he alleges. So go for it Mr
Bruce, because now I’m absolutely determined that you’re not going to win.
And indeed Andrew Bruce is
off. On the issue of the meetings with Carolyn
Sample and Steve Wilson, Mr Thoms, didn’t you
lie to them about who was really buying the cars? Mr
Bruce clearly hadn’t been paying attention to Carolyn
Sample’s testimony, or was conveniently ignoring it.
So no, Mr Bruce, I certainly did not lie, because no one had actually asked me the
question. And if the question had even
been asked of me then, Mr Bruce, why wasn’t such an important issue in any of the
meeting notes that Carolyn
Sample and Steve Wilson had prepared? The
meeting notes recounted the other issues discussed, but the question of who the customers
were was never actually asked, and therefore never appeared in the notes, and that
was exactly in keeping with my recollection of the meetings.
And the reason why I was never directly asked this question was because of the elephant
in the room at all those meetings, the knowledge on both sides that Renault was turning
a blind eye to what was going on because it so desperately needed the car sales.
And Mr Bruce is back at me. Well, if
Renault really does turn a blind eye to this sort of thing, Mr Thoms, then where are
all the other brokers who do the same thing as you? Why
haven’t they turned up to give evidence to support what you are alleging?
Well, Mr Bruce, as you well know, if anyone else from the broking fraternity had gone
public by coming in to Court to give evidence then they would be the proverbial turkeys
voting for Christmas, as Renault would shut down their accounts straight away in retaliation
for letting the cat out of the bag.
OK, so that was a terrible mixture of metaphors I know, but absolutely 100% accurate.
And now I’m tempted to retaliate and ask Andrew
Bruce where all Renault’s senior management are instead of being at the Trial? Why
have they sent just a few junior bag carriers to face the music instead of coming
in themselves to proclaim how much they revile the ‘abuse’ of client accounts? Why
did I have to rely upon Master Foster’s requirement for a Witness Statement from Renault
just to get Simon Tippet to the proceedings as a token company officer?
But I have to remember my rules of engagement for the witness stand, especially the
subject of showing humility – it might not always be one of my strong points (alright,
never, in fact), but some of it wouldn’t go amiss in the present circumstances. So
instead I’ll just satisfy myself with the animal analogies and wait for Andrew
Bruce’s next attempted spearhead into my testimony.
And so Mr Bruce’s questioning continues but I’m still waiting for the sharp prick,
the spearhead. And waiting. And
waiting. And yet despite hours of questioning
since Mr Bruce’s first fall at the psychological hurdle, despite the equivalent of
a nearly a day on the Witness Stand, an increasingly exasperated Andrew Bruce
has tried every which way to put his case and, in particular, to put words in my mouth. And
I’ve just done the same thing each time.
Pause for a moment, picture Andrew
Bruce’s sex face, recall the evidence and point out the document contradicting
Mr Bruce’s allegation. Nothing more has
been required. For some reason known
only to him, barrister Andrew
Bruce has done my job for me. Question
after question, allegation after allegation, each has been rebuffed by making a denial,
then pointing to the evidence, then affirming my denial.
I will spare you from a blow by blow account of the hours of cross-examination that
I’ve gone through and just give a few more examples. Didn’t
I deliberately avoid complying with Renault’s belated requirement to supply proof
of identity and eligibility for all customer buying cars through the BALPA account,
asked Andrew Bruce?
No, I didn’t and in fact, as I directed Mr Bruce to the e-mails in the evidence bundles,
it soon became plain to the Court that it was not Renault chasing me as Andrew
Bruce has alleged, but actually me chasing Renault about implementing the arrangements
for the ID requirements (basically because I didn’t think I had anything to fear from
them, as Toby Johnstone had
already hinted that he would find a way around them).
Then Andrew Bruce asked
if I made up my claim about the telephone conversation with Toby
Johnstone over the vehicle order form that I sent to him by mistake, the one
that turned out to be a copy of an order confirmation to a broker. Good
grief Mr Bruce, why would I do that? If
I had then why hadn’t Renault provided the telephone records to disprove that it took
Well, Mr Bruce asked, why hadn’t I provided my own telephone records to prove that
the telephone conversation happened?
What? Even His Lordship is fed up now
- he’s just asked Andrew Bruce to
explain how my telephone bills would show details of an incoming call. After
a debate Mr Bruce has eventually agreed that my telephone bills wouldn’t have shown
any incoming calls, but he reckons that I could have obtained a record of incoming
calls from my telephone company to prove that the conversation took place.
But why should I Mr Bruce? After all,
your client only had to produce its own telephone bill to prove the conversation never
took place. Unless, of course, their
telephone bill proved quite the opposite, and the call had indeed taken place, and
your client was in no mood to dump evidence like that on the Court.
And so it has gone on for hour after hour. At
times the pauses between my answer and Andrew
Bruce’s next question have grown longer as the questions and supplementary
enquires that he has, I guess, spent hours preparing just fail to get him anywhere. When
this happens he quite obviously tries to think ‘on the hoof’ of new ways to get me
to say something that supports his client’s case, but it just doesn’t happen.
Andrew Bruce asks a
question. I pause to picture his sex
face, I give a brief answer and then I stop. Mr
Bruce hopes for more and, when it doesn’t come, he sways from side to side and looks
at his papers or shuffles them whilst obviously thinking of what to ask next.
Now I haven’t had absolutely everything my own way, and what has transpired overall
on the witness stand hasn’t really been about me being smarter than Andrew
Bruce. I’d love to think it was,
but the truth is that it just isn’t so, and anyone reading a transcript of the Trial
will see that. There’s been no spectacular
clash of titanic intellects, no duel of superior minds in the way you see in the movies
when the arch villain is being cross-examined on the witness stand by some badgering
legal eagle exercising a razor-like wit and incisive mind as he leads the witness
to his doom.
No, I have just stuck with my four simple rules. Tell
the truth, keep it short, point to the evidence and tell the truth again. And
now I think that Andrew Bruce has
seen the light, as he has given up the circular route he has been treading for nearly
a day now. Allegation from him, denial
from me, followed by evidence and affirmation of my case, all of it leading Mr Bruce
and his client nowhere.
And now that the cross-examination is over I’m elated but, strangely, also a bit disappointed. I’d
actually like to go on answering questions and pointing to the evidence and watching Andrew
Bruce decimate his own client’s case, but sadly it isn’t to be. I
think that Mr Bruce has finally twigged that he has wasted a day of cross-examination
giving everyone present a lesson in self-destruction.
So now, as I’m on my way down from the witness stand, I don’t know whether or not
what I have done will be enough to get across to His Lordship the lying, backstabbing
and legal trickery that has been used to pursue Renault’s claim, but at least I’ve
had my day in Court. I shall just cross
my fingers and hope that I have used it well.
And so I’m getting some ribbing from the legal team about my animal analogies, especially
the 'turkeys voting for Christmas' thing, but they seem happy enough with my time
on the witness stand. Now what’s left is the summing up of facts by each side and
the presenting of the legal arguments. Then
it will be over to His Lordship for Judgement.
His Lordship has explained to me that he will retire to consider his verdict, then
a draft Judgement will be issued in due course and this will be circulated in advance
to the barristers. Because I am representing
myself, I will be permitted to see the Judgement in advance, though I am forbidden
to tell anyone what is in it.
So with all the evidence and legal tomes packed away and the Courtroom cleared I shall
go home to wait for Judgement Day. Literally.