Lordy lordy, it certainly has been the week for prats coming out of the woodwork. My prestigious "Prat of The Week Award" is being handed out with the same frequency as honours are by the Labour Party.
This particular bunch of prats are the people who tried to prosecute Edmond Taylor last year for a driving offence, despite the fact that CCTV footage showed a totally different man committing the offence.
Now you might say that mistaken identity can occur, and that CCTV footage can be unclear.
However, I should at this stage point out that Mr Taylor is black, whilst the CCTV footage clearly showed a white man committing the offence.
Mr Taylor has had to fight for a year to clear his name. Only when the judge was finally shown the CCTV footage, at the beginning of November, was Mr Taylor cleared on appeal.
He had been convicted of dangerous driving, the only evidence being police reports from the Surrey police. He was banned from driving for a year and fined £430.
Mr Taylor said:
"I attended four hearings.
If they had looked at the video once
they would have realised I was not the person they wanted.
I did miss a couple of hearings
but the police officer didn't attend any.
How many times did they need to see me to know that I was black
and the man who broke the law was white?"
The sorry tale began in summer 2005, when a man was seen reversing a Vauxhall Corsa along the hard shoulder of the M23.
When PC Paul James of Surrey Police arrived to investigate, the man had left the car and was walking along the hard shoulder carrying a petrol can.
The officer escorted the driver back to the Corsa, where he gave his name as Edmond Taylor and produced a document to prove his identity and that he owned the car.
The officer issued a fixed penalty notice, and a notice for the driver to produce his insurance and other documents at a police station.
Unfortunately Mr Taylor's car and identity had been stolen.
The thief was allowed to drive away, and returned the car to where he had stolen it outside of Mr Taylor's home in South London.
Mr Taylor became aware of the problem only when a summons arrived.
At a preliminary hearing at Redhill Magistrates Court, Mr Taylor said he had never been to the spot where the offence happened and had not been stopped by police.
PC James was not in court, despite the fact that his evidence could have cleared Mr Taylor.
A trial date was fixed but PC James did not turn up then, either. It was the same story on Mr Taylor's third appearance, when magistrates decided to try the case on the paperwork.
On his fourth appearance Mr Taylor was convicted, fined and disqualified, though he was given notice to appeal.
Mr Taylor said:
"Every time I went to court I said I had never driven there.
But they consistently said it was me because of the police statement.
Each time I asked for the policeman to be there.
I even thought of contacting him myself,
but I didn't know which station he was from.
The CPS prosecutor kept saying,
'How many times are we going to give
Mr Taylor the chance to lie to the court?'
I was very angry when he said that
because there was no evidence.
To give the police officer his due,
he apologised to me after the appeal.
I asked him why he had never come to court.
He said the court had told him it wasn't necessary."
Judge John Crocker quashed the conviction, and ordered an immediate investigation into the blunder.
"It is totally disgraceful.
Why has this only come to light today?
I want a full explanation as to how this occurred
and I want it within three weeks."
A CPS spokesman said:
"We are looking into exactly what happened
in this case
and will be supplying the judge with a report."
A Surrey Police spokesman said:
"We apologise unreservedly to Mr Taylor
for the upset and worry he has gone through.
The officer was not in court because the nature of the offence
did not require him to be."
Not only is this sorry tale utterly ludicrous, it is very frightening.
Prats may be way too soft a phrase to use in this particular case.