Of George Carmen Simon wrote:- is little wonder they call him the Silver Fox, for he sports immaculate silver hair and a quite brilliant cunning. He is the scourge of litigants who bring questionable libel actions, and the darling of newspaper defendants because he nearly always wins.
George Carman is very well aware of his high profile and entertainment value. He does not so much play to the gallery as seduce it, as he is often so wont to do with juries. His very gentlemanlinnes is complete disarming and it is when he is being so genial and polite that you must fear him most. For he is a past master at luring you into a false sense of security.
I attended on several days the recent Anglesea libel trial before Justice Drake in the famous libel court, number thirteen at the High Court. I resolved after witnessing a typical Carman cross-examination - of Anglesea himself - that if ever I found myself in the same witness box being addressed by the old fox, I would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God, however much damage it might do me. For if Carman knows you are lying he will relentlessly first trap you and then expertly hang you in the web of your own lies.
Angelsea had told the court he had only visited the children's home, Bryn Estyn, where various allegations had been made by former inmates, about "two or three times" on semi-official social occasions like Christmas parties. "Quite so," said Mr. Carman.
If Mr. Carman uses the phrases "quite so" or "I see" or, in particular, "you're sure about that?" his next fox's gambit will be to show you have just lied.
"Mr. Angesea," he told the confident former policeman. "I hand you your own notebook for the Christmas period l993- 4. Do you recognise it?""Yes, sir."And so it went on, page after relentless page, as Gordon Anglesea's voice first quavered and then got more and more high pitched. And then statements he had made to his solicitors in answer to the Observer's solicitors in which he had stressed that he was "absolutely sure" he had only visited Bryn Estyn "two or three times". To concrete the point the Observer had repeated the question and got the same reply.
"Would you please turn to the entry for November 7th? Found it? Good. Could you please read to the court what it says?"
"Caution, Bryn Estyn."
"Yes. Could you please turn to the entry on 15th November? What does it say?"
"Caution, Bryn Estyn."
"And this," said Mr. Carman. "Is only one notebook out of many. It does tend to confirm, Mr. Anglesea, that you visited the home rather more than three times does it not?""Yes...well...what I mean is....."After the calm trap comes the hammering. Carman will pick on something seemingly unimportant. In this case police procedure on issuing cautions (they are normally given in the police station on the orders of a senior policeman and they are witnessed and a proper record is taken).
"What do you mean Mr. Anglesea?"
"Was it customary to caution at Bryn Estyn rather than the police station?""Yes, quite normal."By this time the witness had got very red faced, was stumbling, holding the rail tight, and his voice had gone up to a falsetto.
"I see. Can you name any other policeman during this period who gave a caution at Bryn Estyn?"
"I see. Name one."
"Well, I was certainly aware of one other officer doing it."
"How do you know?"
"He told me."
"When did he tell you and who was it."
"I can't recall his name but he told me by letter."
"Where's the letter?"
"Well..... I'll have to look for it. I don't know where it is right now. But I remember seeing it."
"At the end of the day Mr. Anglesea, you know of one other time in which an officer actually gave a caution at Bryn Estyn. But you can't recall who it was or when he told you?"
This patent dismantling had all been done with the greatest of menacing politeness, as if they were standing at the bar in the village local. The significance of what Mr. Anglesea said was not lost on the jury.
Watching Carman from behind, his slightly hunched back ready to pounce, you realise he really enjoys what he does and is a pat- master at it.
After a few days of this I can assure him that if and when he meet on opposing sides I shall tell him the exact truth. But if he does ever say to me, "quite so" I shall know I've got something wrong.