Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury
for Mark Bratton,
on his departure to take up the post of Chaplain to the
before you today to plead on behalf of a young man. Well maybe not
speaking a young man but at least a man still with his own hair and
am here to plead mitigation for the accused, Mark Quinn Bratton. He has
admitted the charges laid against him, and we should be grateful for
as it has spared us the necessity of releasing the full video tapes of
evidence. Indeed I am pleased these hearings are not being televised.
already once endured the humilation of trial by television in the
Yorkshire TV "makeover" and few of us have heart to repeat such a
spectacle, particularly with children present.
before you is a man whose only crime is to have wanted to be the
theologian since Augustine, the finest preacher since Wesley and the
British Olympic middle distance gold medallist winner since Sebastian
not necessarily in that order.
to sum up our case. We plead mitigating circumstances firstly because
upbringing. Not that he grew up in war-torn
I ask you to take into account his unfortunate previous profession. He
course, a lawyer. For those of you unaware of the damage this can do I
a recent report of correspondence between the RSPCA and the Law
RSPCA wrote to the Law Society recommending the use of lawyers in
experiments in place of rats. When the Law Society asked why, the RSPCA
with three reasons. Firstly, they said, there are more lawyers than
Secondly, some people quite like rats. And thirdly, there are some
a rat won't do.
finally, I ask you to consider that my client is, after all, only human
like us all suffers the frailties of the flesh. After all have we not
just as he has? Consider the charges on which he has been convicted.
he is accused of occasional loss of memory. But how many of us, let us
honest, have not done the same? Have we not forgotten the names of the
we are about to baptise? And their parents? Have we not all often
keys in the church safe by accident? Or phoned up our own answering
leave messages to remind us to do things? Those among you who
Mark books or CDs for a few days … I implore you, look upon it as an
investment. Or if not that, then at least an opportunity for sacrifice.
he stands accused of appalling dress sense, but I ask you: is this a
Evidence has been presented that there are some who have grown fond of
brown velvet jacket. Of his creative use of colour. The interesting
co-ordination of footwear with clothing. The subtle yet distinguished
grey in his hair, in a hairstyle which, I put it to you, itself owes a
deal to the early monastic tradition.
he stands accused of enjoying good wine. And mediocre wine. And even on
occasion some demonstrably bad wine, bought for less than 10 francs a
he stands accused of going on and on and on about almost being an
athlete. Ladies and gentlemen, we must all have our fantasies and is it
for those of us who have seen those fabled legs straining in their
would have called at this point his colleagues as character witnesses
support him. However after a lengthy interview with Gill Dallow we felt
discretion is the better part of valour in this case.
I move to the more serious charges, which relate of course to his
And he stands accused of treating the pulpit like a court of law. Of
lawyer's trick of asking rhetorical questions. I ask you, is this
has been said that on occasion he has made what may be called
risque remarks from the pulpit. Surely not. This is a man of
that on his own admission he has returned from a honeymoon in which,
quote his words exactly, "I did absolutely nothing with my new wife".
has been said that on occasion he uses language that nobody
speaking in tongues has long been a part of our worship here and I am
that, if we are only patient enough, the Lord will send someone along
interpret Mark's words for us.
Finally, and in the eyes of some most grievously, he stands accused of being married. Of this charge my client has pleaded guilty. He has already been given a life sentence. Ladies of the jury, I beg of you, let him go now.
now for his sentence, let us make his punishment fit his crimes. I ask
send him into that wilderness that lies beyond Greenford. To the young
untutored wherever they may be found. I ask you to send him to a place
learning. Where then?
I suggest the
so-called university that has sent forth into the world such talents as
Mayo, Jack Straw, Timmy Mallett and—yes, we must face it—
in September 1998 in (I think) the lounge at