Published: 02 December 2022

The trial of Father Christmas

Father Christmas was put on trial in the School of Law's Court of the Future charged with burglary!

The trial of the King v Santa Taggart Claus took place in the School of Law’s Court of the Future before a packed public gallery. Santa Taggart Claus was charged with burglary, contrary to section 9(1)(b) of the Theft Act 1968 and was represented by Nick Clapham, with Timothy James prosecuting, in a court presided over by Judge Professor Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov.

In a trial that centred on the accusations of the complainant, Mr Turek, a man described as being ‘bitter and angry’ because he teaches equity rather than jurisprudence and who refuses “to engage in any way with Christmas”, and Santa Taggart Claus’s sense of entitlement to enter Mr Turek’s property and consume refreshments left by the fireside “because I am Santa. Only I have this job”.

The court heard witness evidence from PC Lee and Ms KT Claus. PC Lee, the investigating officer at Turek Towers on the night in question, said that he “found a person wearing a red jacket sitting in front of the fire eating, surrounded by crumbs. He smelled of alcohol”.

Ms Claus, who gave evidence via video link from the North Pole, carefully explained the workings of the World Elf Organisation (WEO) and Santa’s SatNav.

The WEO monitors children and the students of Law at the University of Surrey throughout the year to assess their entry on the nice list whilst strictly adhering to the rules of GDPR and RIPA.

The elves input the nice children’s and Law students’ addresses into Santa’s SatNav in preparation for Santa’s world present-distribution tour that takes place annually on the night of 24 December. Ms Claus agreed that the elves had entered Mr Turek’s address into the SatNav for the tour of 24 December 2021.

The court examined evidence of the stolen Danvers carrot as well as a letter submitted by Mr Turek’s children to Ms Claus inviting Santa Taggart Claus to visit their home on Christmas Eve and their wish to receive “non-equity-related presents”.

With bells tinkling, Santa Taggart Claus took to the witness box. He said the complainant criticised his weight, saying: “But I'm big boned! Mr Turek accused me of eating mince pies and drinking dry – very dry – sherry that was obviously left for me,” whilst admitting his memory of the night "is foggy", asking the court in his defence: “see what your memory is like when you're 500 years old!”

In summing up the case, Professor Donnelly-Lazarov, said that “whilst not many of us could consume a large number of sherries, dry or sweet, and still have a reliable long-term recollection of what has happened,” she advised, “context is everything,” urging the jury to “save Christmas!”

After a short deliberation, the jury unanimously delivered a “not guilty”, with the jury foreperson adding defiantly that they “didn’t care if we’re marked down by Mr Turek in future assessments!”.

This festive evening of legal fun was hosted by the student Law Society in aid of the Big Leaf Foundation, a charity which helps displaced young people in Surrey. The Foundation is one of the School of Law’s Project Partners.

Dr Christopher Taggart gamely took on the role of Father Christmas, Krystof Turek took on the role of the grumpy complainant, Dr Ambrose Lee the role of inept police officer, Dr Katy Peters the role of Ms KT Claus, Nick Clapham the role of defence, Timothy James as prosecution, and the Head of the School of Law, Professor Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov, presided as judge. The jury, court clerk, and usher were played by Law students, all of whom, we are sure, are included on Ms Claus’s nice list for this year!

With thanks to Geena Kingswell, the School of Law administrator, and to LawSoc for organising the event.

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