Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Competition: Win Vouchers to Spend at Any TESCO Store

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Competition: Win Vouchers to Spend at Any TESCO Store

Article excerpt

Competition No 3819

set by Keith Norman, 16 February

You were asked for an extract from Lord Hutton's report into the death of any figure from history or fiction.

Report by Ms de Meaner

First an apology. The report last week said there were two winners getting [pounds sterling]30 each. In fact, it should have read three winners with [pounds sterling]20 each. This week a newcomer, John Littlefair, gets [pounds sterling]25 and the Tesco vouchers; [pounds sterling]20 to Josh Ekroy and Peter Walsh. Hon menshes to Adrian Fry and R J Pickles.

Lord Hutton on Thomas Becket

First, the "A" is unnecessary, superfluous and entirely disposable, like so many letters near the start of the alphabet--BBC, say, or AG. Only with "H" does one reach security. However, despite these reservations, there is little real doubt as to the identity of the alleged victim.

I now pass to the question as to whether the archbishop was "axed up". This apparently is capable of numerous interpretations. One must remember that when William de Tracy and his colleagues arrived, Becket was within 45 minutes of celebrating a highly provocative Mass and was already at the top of the altar steps. It seems to me entirely possible that, turning and seeing his interlocutors, he was overcome with remorse and, rather than falling on his own sword, selfishly flung himself on their weapons of mass destruction. He was thus, far from being "axed up", rather "axed down".

Finally, to King Henry's role: there can be no doubt that his expression of the value--nay indispensability--of his erstwhile, somewhat combustible companion to de Tracy et al was clarity itself and has subsequently been misinterpreted in the most pernicious way: "Will, no one rid me of this turbulent priest."

JOHN LITTLEFAIR

Lord Hutton on Humpty-Dumpty

I am satisfied that this is not a case where the Crown could have known that an unstable egg would hurl itself from a high wall on which it was so ill-advisedly sitting.

Subconsciously, the intelligence services may have wished to reassure the Crown that the position of Mr Dumpty was quite safe, but there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the "Dumpty Dossier" overstressed the stability of the egg's position in any particular. …

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