Barrister in the doghouse

Stephen Rich told Newcastle Crown Court that he was looking after a bull mastiff for a friend as he prepared the case of a client accused of making a threat to kill and aggravated burglary.

When he momentarily left the room, Nalla, a one-year-old bitch, devoured half of his copy of a closed circuit TV video. Judge David Hodson made no response to the schoolboy excuse and the case was adjourned.

However Rich – a tenant with Westgate Chamber which faces closure following the defection of 12 of its 18 barristers to rival Newcastle set Broad Chare Chambers – says the Judge "didn't seem to impressed".

"It was very embarrassing," he said.