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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Double Negative

In today's Times (subscription required outside of the UK):

Adam Slater, 51, was seen drinking in the street in Weymouth a day after magistrates had imposed a a two-year antisocial banning order on him, and faced a maximum of five years.

But magistrates were forced to throw out the case when they spotted the grammatical error in the text of the order handed to Slater. The double negative meant that technically it would have been an offence for him not to have been drinking in public.

The order read: “It is ordered that the defendant is prohibited from: 1, Not to consume any alcoholic drink in any public place other than licensed premises within Weymouth as defined on the attached map; 2, Not to act or incite others to act in any drunken or antisocial manner within Weymouth town centre . . . that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons; 3, Not to use or incite others to use threatening, intimidating, insulting or abusive words or behaviour within Weymouth town centre.”

Ah, English justice.