Herewith as promised another excerpt from May It Please Your Lordship by Toby Potts, Chapter Ten:


I HAD NEVER been into drugs, not even at university, where they were supposed to be freely available. Well, to be strictly accurate, I’d been offered a spliff at a party once, but, like all those people in high places who set such a good example for lesser mortals to follow, I hadn’t actually inhaled; according to my friends in the know, this defeated the object of the exercise.

In my professional capacity, drink and drugs formed a sizeable part of my practice, from yobs in town centres drinking themselves senseless, assuming they had any sense in the first place, to lowlife on dark street corners offering coke, and brown, and hash, and speed, and E’s and anything else that took your fancy. It was very depressing, as it was to the bobbies on the beat who found themselves in the front line, night after night, when they weren’t back at the station filling in forms.

My first outing into the twilight zone concerned Dave ‘Dogface’ Brown, a small time dealer in heroin working his patch in Lambeth. By all accounts he was doing well. He had a nice flat, furnished expensively in a tasteless sort of way, with a top of the range stereo system that would knock your socks off at thirty paces.

Dave liked his gadgets.

With a face like a bloodhound, and instincts to match, he’d always managed to keep one step ahead of the law and the competition. However, nothing lasts for ever, as Dave discovered to his cost. Following an undercover operation, he had been charged with supplying a controlled drug of Class A to another, and possession of a small quantity of cannabis resin, and remanded in custody to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court.

I arrived early at Court, to see him in conference and prepare for trial. Counsel originally instructed was detained elsewhere, as his trial had overrun, so I had inherited the brief the night before. I’d long since reconciled myself to second or third choice in the pecking order, but work was work, and I was beginning to get my fair share of the pickings.

Southwark Crown Court was one of the newer, purpose-built courts, just south of Blackfriars Bridge, wedged between anonymous office blocks, and decked out with chrome and neon and garish carpets. A truly forgettable building, but justice was justice wherever it was administered, and at least there was a decent wine bar just around the corner.

Once robed, I presented myself at Reception on the ground floor. Time to touch base with my solicitor’s representative.

At my behest, the tannoy crackled into life. ‘Would the legal representative of David Brown please report to reception.’

To my horror, bearing down on me from the other side of the foyer, loomed the formidable figure of Bootsy Farmer, smiling broadly with his hand extended. ‘What a pleasure, Mr Potts. We meet again, and another lost cause if I may say so. Still, as Churchill used to say, we also serve who only strut and fret our hour upon the stage.’

Very droll, I’m sure, I muttered under my breath. Poor Churchill, poor Shakespeare, and, more to the point, poor Dogface at the sight of Bootsy the Bard bearing down on him, ready to give him the full treatment and get him to plead guilty. Worse still, had Bootsy already seen him and carved a deal? The instructions, on this point at least, were clear. Dave didn’t plead guilty to anything. For him it was a matter of principle. Fair enough, I thought, though I couldn’t spot the defence to possession. A lump of cannabis resin found where the sun never shines, wrapped in cling film, didn’t just get there on its own. Supplying a Class A drugs was in a different league altogether, attracting a long sentence of imprisonment if convicted, but Dave had a defence, of sorts, and it would be my task to present it.

I was determined to assert myself from the outset and not play second fiddle again. ‘Good morning, Mr Farmer,’ I said. ‘How nice to see you again. Have you seen the defendant yet?’

‘’Fraid not, Mr Potts. I got here early for that specific purpose, but the prison van was late, and he’s only just arrived. Shall we go and pay our respects?’

What a blessed relief.

I walked purposefully ahead towards the Custody Suite as it was called, determined not to be nobbled by Bootsy on the way. Dave was brought into the interview room, and after the usual niceties, the conference began.

‘The main evidence against you comes from the two women police officers, PCs Black and White.’

‘Yeah. Nice girls, big boobs, been transferred to Islington, last I ’eard. Won’t see them again for a while, more’s the pity.’

Was it my imagination, or was Dave high on something? He looked remarkably laid back.

‘They say you sold them three wraps of heroin?’

‘Yeah. You’re not telling me nothing I don’t already know, dude.’

‘I appreciate that,’ I continued, ‘but as I’ve stepped in at the last minute, I need to be sure I’ve covered all the angles, and this is your chance to bring me up to speed.’

‘Hey, if it’s speed you want, dude, then I’m your man,’ replied Dave, chuckling.

This was not a promising start. Dave was a child of the sixties, flower power, Woodstock, make love not war and all that, who used to get stoned on Jefferson Airplane and had never moved on. What he couldn’t smoke himself, he sold to others.

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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

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