In a test case that has serious implications for the fourth estate, a pig is to sue both local and national newspapers for defamation after unflattering comparisons to Members of Parliament were made in print.
News International, Associated Newspapers and the Mirror Group were all fingered by the porcine plaintiff, ironically named Prescott, whose distress at the scandalous allegations was revealed by Dr. Wolfgang Knuttkase, an animal behaviour specialist at Vienna's famed Institute of Anthropomorphism.
"Prescott has been badly damaged by these baseless slurs," Dr. Knuttkase declared. "The British Press has been highly irresponsible to compare the disgusting habits of elected politicians to the benign lifestyle of this fine pig. He is very low maintenance; has never stolen another hog's swill; and shows great humility, especially during the barbecue season."
Prescott, a 6 year old pedigree Old Spot, resides in a sty in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, that has received no home improvement grants or tax exemptions in his lifetime.
His owner, Mrs. Enid Thrush, 77, has charted Prescott's increasing derangement. " 'e were a lovely piglet when Lulu (his mother) first 'ad 'im," she confided. "It all started to go wrong when the slurryman left a copy of The Sun next to 'is sty. There was all this guff about 'greedy pigs' and 'snouts in the trough' ... Prescott became very depressed. Frankly, we were gobsmacked - we 'ad no idea 'e could read."
The situation worsened when Mrs. Thrush's son, Frank, carelessly left his portable radio on a nearby hay bale, tuned to Radio 4's Today programme.
"This was wholly unnecessary cruelty," observed Dr. Knuttcase. "Prescott might have coped with The Sun's slurs on their own, but to hear Jim Naughtie and John Humphrys having a go so soon afterwards was too much for him."
With the financial assistance of the Pig Breeders' Association, Prescott has instructed libel specialists Farter Schmuck, who represent Commons Speaker Michael Martin at taxpayers' expense but deny any conflict of interest, to instigate proceedings against the media. It is rumoured that a newspaper consortium will call on the services of Sir Armitage Shanks, a notorious libertine, to defend the charges.
PBA Chairman Bob Overend, MBE, refused to comment, while Farter Schmuck referred all enquiries to an Alastair Campbell.
Prescott simply grunted when asked for a quote as it was time for his mash.