"My lord," began Sarah as she rose to face Mr. Justice Callaghan. "My client does not deny his breach of license, but he did so only in order to establish his rights in a major financial case which he anticipates will shortly be coming before the High Court in Scotland. I should also point out, my lord, that my client was accompanied at all times by the distinguished Scottish solicitor, Mr. Fraser Munro, who is representing him in that case." The judge made a note of the name on the pad in front of him. "You may also consider it to be relevant, my lord, that my client was out of the country for less than forty-eight hours, and returned to London of his own volition. The charge that he failed to inform his probation officer is not entirely accurate, because he rang Ms. Bennett, and when he received ceived no reply, left a message on her answerphone. That message was recorded and can be supplied to the court if your lordship pleases.
"My lord, this uncharacteristic lapse has been the only occasion on which my client has failed to abide strictly by his license conditions, and he has never missed or ever been late for a meeting with his probation officer. I would add," continued Sarah, "that since being released from prison, my client's behavior, with the exception of this one blemish, has been exemplary. Not only has he at all times abided by his license, but he has continued his efforts to further his educational qualifications. He has recently been granted a place at London University, which he hopes will lead to an honors degree in business studies.
"My client unreservedly apologizes for any inconvenience he has caused the court or the probation service, and he has assured me that this will never happen again.
"In conclusion, my lord, I would hope that after you have taken all these matters into consideration, you will agree that no purpose will be served by sending this man back to prison." Sarah closed her file, bowed and resumed her place.
The judge went on writing for some time before he put down his pen. "Thank you, Miss Davenport," he eventually said. "I would like a little time to consider your submission before I pass judgment. Perhaps we could take a short break, and convene again at noon."
The court rose. Sarah was puzzled. Why would a judge of Mr. Justice Callaghan's experience need time to come to a decision on such a mundane matter? And then she worked it out.
"Could I speak to the chairman, please?"
"Who shall I say is calling?"
"I'll see if he's free to take your call, Mr. Munro." Munro tapped his fingers on the desk while he waited.
"Mr. Munro, how nice to hear from you again," said de Coubertin. "How can I assist you on this occasion?"
"I thought I would let you know that the matter which concerns us both will be resolved on Thursday of next week."
"Yes, I am fully aware of the latest developments," replied de Coubertin, "as I have also had a call from Mr. Desmond Galbraith. He assured me that his client has agreed to accept whatever judgment the court reaches. I must therefore ask if your client is willing to do the same."
"Yes, he is," replied Munro. "I shall be writing to you later today confirming that is our position."
"I am most grateful," said de Coubertin, "and will inform our legal department accordingly. As soon as we learn which of the two parties has won the action, I will give instructions to deposit the $57,500,000 into the relevant account."
"Thank you for that assurance," said Munro. He coughed. "I wondered if I might have a word with you off the record?"
"Not an expression we Swiss have come to terms with," replied de Coubertin.
"Then perhaps in my capacity as a trustee of the late Sir Alexander Moncrieff's estate, I could seek your guidance."
"I will do my best," replied de Coubertin, "but I will not under any circumstances breach client confidentiality. And that applies whether the client is dead or alive."
"I fully understand your position," said Munro. "I have reason to believe that you had a visit from Mr. Hugo Moncrieff before you saw Sir Nicholas, and that therefore you must have considered the documents that constitute the evidence in this case." De Coubertin did not offer an opinion. "Can I assume from your silence," said Munro, "that is not in dispute." De Coubertin still did not respond. "Among those documents would have been copies of both of Sir Alexander's wills, the legitimacy of which will decide the outcome of this case." Again, de Coubertin didn't offer an opinion, making Munro wonder if the line had gone dead. "Are you still there, chairman?" he asked.
"Yes, I am," de Coubertin replied.
"As you were willing to see Sir Nicholas after your meeting with Mr. Hugo Moncrieff, I can only assume that the reason you rejected his uncle's claim was because the bank, like myself, is not convinced that the second will is valid. So that there is no misunderstanding between us," added Munro, "your bank concluded that it is a fake." Mr. Munro could now hear the chairman breathing. "Then in the name of justice, man, I must ask you what it was that convinced you that the second will was invalid, but which I have failed to identify."
"I'm afraid I am unable to assist you, Mr. Munro, as it would be a breach of client confidentiality."
"Is there anyone else that I can turn to for advice on this matter?" pressed Munro.
There was a long silence before de Coubertin eventually said, "In keeping with the bank's policy, we sought a second opinion from an outside source."
"And can you divulge the name of your source?"
"No, I cannot," replied de Coubertin. "Much as I might like to, that would also be contrary to the bank's policy on such matters."
"But-" began Munro.
"However," continued de Coubertin, ignoring the interruption, "the gentleman who advised us is unquestionably the leading authority in his field, and hasn't yet left Geneva."
"All rise," said the usher as twelve o'clock struck and Mr. Justice Callaghan walked back into the courtroom.
Sarah turned to smile encouragingly at Danny, who was standing in the dock, with a look of resignation on his face. Once the judge had settled in his chair, he peered down at defense counsel. "I have given a great deal of thought to your submission, Miss Davenport. However, you must understand that it is my responsibility to ensure that prisoners are fully aware that while they are on license, they are still serving part of their sentence, and that if they fail to keep to the conditions set down in their parole order, they are breaking the law.
"I have of course," he continued, "taken into consideration your client's overall record since his release, including his efforts to obtain further academic qualifications. This is all very commendable, but does not alter the fact that he abused his position of trust. He must therefore be punished accordingly." Danny bowed his head. "Moncrieff," said the judge, "I intend to sign an order today which will ensure that you will be locked up for a further four years should you break any of your license conditions in the future. For the period of your license you may not under any circumstances travel abroad, and you will continue to report to your probation officer once a month."
He removed his spectacles. "Moncrieff, you have been most fortunate on this occasion, and what tipped the balance in your favor was the fact that you were accompanied on your injudicious foreign excursion by a senior member of the Scottish legal profession, whose reputation on both sides of the border is beyond reproach." Sarah smiled. Mr. Justice Callaghan had needed to make one or two phone calls so that he could confirm something Sarah already knew. "You are free to leave the court," were Mr. Justice Callaghan's final words.