“If you haven’t got a penny, a halfpenny will do…”

Here’s an interesting snippet from an otherwise boring article about British libel cases:

[I]n November 1974 … lieutenant-colonel John Brooks (a former mayor and London solicitor) sued the Sunday People which had accused him of being a sex trap for young girls and of assaulting a student on board his boat.

In evidence the Manchester University student told the court that she was smacked on her bare bottom about 30 times by the claimant. The newspaper had exaggerated the truth, but not by much, and the spanking colonel was still awarded damages – a derisory halfpenny.

These days, the good colonel would have been better off responding to the article with a cheery “Sex trap for young girls? I do so heartily wish it were true….”

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