(this was written years before the Gender Recognition and Civil Partnership Acts)

"Blushing Bride - and So She Might", screamed the headlines in the Sunday Scandal. "Christine James married Peter Walker on Thursday, but the blushing bride has a secret. She was CHRISTOPHER James before undergoing a sex change operation in 1993! And the registry office wedding was illegal because regardless of surgery, she is still legally a man. No doubt she will be blushing even more when the police call to see her!"

The editor pulled a bottle of whisky out of his bottom draw and poured a slug into a plastic cup which he handed to the reporter who had followed up an anonymous tip off leading to the latest story.

"Well done, Nick, That's the ticket. Our readers will love it. I'll put it on page 6, can't fit it in earlier because of the Royal revelations."

Two days later, the editor called Nick to his office again.

"That story about the sex change bride. You are sure you got it right aren't you?" He demanded.

"Absolutely, I checked out her history. Born 1955 and registered as a male, lived as Christopher until the sex change in 1993. Why?"

"We've had a writ from her solicitors for libel, that's why. And, what's more, the police don't seem to be taking any action against her."

"They haven't got a leg to stand on, chief. The facts speak for themselves. The police are probably just dragging their feet. In fact, that could be a follow up story - maybe the officer responsible has some reason for taking no action which he wouldn't like revealed!"

"Good idea, check it out".

Later that week, the reporter knocked on his editor's door.

"That sex change wedding story. Turns out that the copper involved was a transvestite who retired from the force the day after filing a "no further action recommended" report on the case."

"Fan-bloody-tastic! Did you get any pics of the copper in drag by any chance?"

"Not yet. He's disappeared from sight for the moment".

"Well, keep digging. In the meantime, lets run this as the second lead on the front page."

"Great! Any news about the writ?"

"Yeah. Strange that. They're still claiming damages for alleging that the wedding was illegal when they say it wasn't. Counsel thinks they may be planning to use it as a test case in the European Court."

With no trace of the police officer and no further developments, the story died and other scandals took its place in the scurrilous paper.

Finally, the date of the hearing arrived and the editor and reporter joined their legal advisors at the court.

"Let's go over the facts once more." the bewigged barrister in his long robe suggested. "There is no possibility of incorrect identification, the bride "Christine" was registered as male at birth and lived in that role until undergoing gender reassignment surgery, she then changed her name by deed poll and under that name married Peter Walker. I really cannot see what their defence could possibly be.

Regardless of her sex change, she is still legally male and two males may not marry."

Counsel for the plaintiffs presented their claim for damages arising from the incorrect assertion that Christine and Peter's marriage had been illegal. It was then the defendant's turn to question Christine.

"Your name is now Christine James, but you were previously Christopher James. Is that correct?" demanded the barrister.

"No, it is not correct" Christine replied. "My name is now Christine Walker, not James."

"But you were formally known as Christopher James?" insisted the barrister, irritated at the original response.

"That is correct." replied Christine.

"And you were registered at birth as a male?"


"Then, in the eyes of the law, you are male."

"Yes, but...."

The barrister cut her off and asked his next question "And you are aware that it is illegal for two males to marry in this country."

"In this country, yes. Other countries are more civilised about these matters."

"We are not concerned with other countries. As your wedding was illegal, the newspaper was quite within its rights to publicise the truth and there can be no claim against it. No further questions. I submit, my Lord that it is quite obvious that there is no case for my clients to answer and ask for the case to be dismissed with costs awarded against the plaintiff."

The judge looked up over his glasses at Christine and James' barrister. "Do you have any further relevant evidence to present?" he asked.

"Yes my Lord. I would like Peter Walker to take the stand."

"Are you certain that this is going to be relevant? I will not have my court used as a soap box for propaganda purposes."

"It is highly relevant my Lord."

"Very well, continue."

Peter walked across to the witness box, five feet seven tall of slight build, he had a smooth complexion and sported a narrow moustache.

"Your name is Peter Walker, is that correct?"

"Yes sir"

"But it wasn't always "Peter" Walker was it?"

"No, I was registered as Patricia at birth and it was only when I decided to live as a male at the age of nineteen that I adopted the name Peter. Christine and I met at a transsexual support group. We fell in love and decided to get married after we'd both had our operations."

"So, legally, you are still a female and as Christine is male, your wedding is legal?"

"Of course, but the newspaper was just interested in a bit of scandal."

The editor turned to his reporter. "You're fired!" he whispered angrily.

The libel award did not break records but was still substantial. The judge accepted that the notoriety resulting from the libel would add to the difficulties both Christine and Peter faced in trying to find work.

But, the problems for the Sunday Scandal didn't end with the judge’s award.

As he left the court, the editor was approached by the Walker's solicitor accompanied by a tall, well dressed, lady.

"I believe that you have been looking for me," the woman said. "I was Detective Inspector Childs until I took early retirement which enabled me to undergo surgery. Your newspaper alleged that it was because I was a transvestite that I did not proceed with the case against the Walkers. That was libellous."

The solicitor handed the editor another writ. "I suggest that you consider settling this one out of court" he said.

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