In an effort to reduce the prison population, the Government will pass legislation bringing back the Medieval practice of "trial by combat".
Trial by combat involved an accused fighting with his accuser until one of them was killed. For example, a man charged with brawling in public would get a second chance to brawl to the death. The law only applied to knights. Peasants who were accused of a criminal offence were simply garrotted.
The Government White Paper proposes that anyone accused of a serious offence will be sent a penalty notice that will allow him to choose to fight the magistrate or judge, rather than be represented by a lawyer. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, her full bosom heaving as she spoke, told us that this would "keep down the prison population and get rid of some old judges so save the country a lot of money".
Special rules will apply where more than one person is accused of the same offence. "It would be unfair", the former Charlie's Angel breathed sexily, "for a hundred football fans accused of rioting to be allowed to fight a single judge. In such a case, we will draft in judges from other countries like India and Pakistan, where, as everyone knows, people spend most of their time fighting anyway."
We asked the Home Secretary if it was not unfair for a young criminal to be allowed to fight a possibly elderly judge but she insisted not. "We will be training our judges in martial arts", she cooed, unwrapping a Cadbury's Flake. "They will have to pass physical fitness tests as part of their Continuing Professional Development."