Legal or ludicrous? – obscure laws you didn’t know you were breaking

ARCANE LAW: Bans eating mince pies on Christmas Day.

MAKES you wonder why all these daft obsolete laws haven’t been repealed, but the government is probably far too busy

DID you know Prince Charles couldn’t be charged for setting off a nuclear bomb? Well, according to a recent study, he’s exempt from sanction over a range of laws – and also has special rights over certain ‘crown roads.’ Problem is, nobody knows where those roads are!

It’s all down, apparently, to the arcane constitutional position of the Duchy of Cornwall. This 700-year-old landowning estate, which provides the heir to the throne with an income, can’t be made criminally liable for contraventions of certain laws which include the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition & Inspections) Act 1998. 


Well, this started me thinking about ancient UK laws that have never been repealed (even though statutes may have rendered some obsolete). Among the weirdest are the ones banning you from eating mince pies on Christmas Day. Guilty as charged, m’lud! But if you lock me up, you’d have to imprison at least half the UK population too…

Did you also know it’s illegal to die while in the Houses of Parliament? Which prompts the question: ‘How would they tell?’ if certain excessively low profile MPs broke this particular law. It’s illegal too to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour (and if you then sit down and die, you’ve REALLY blown it.)

Other bizarre laws still in existence include a ban on firing a cannon close to a house, the use of any slide upon ice or snow, or driving cattle through the streets of London. But a pregnant woman is legally entitled to relieve herself anywhere she wants!

And it’s illegal not to tell the tax man anything you don’t want him to know, but it’s perfectly legal not to give him information you don’t mind him knowing (umm, yeah. I think I’ve got that). 

Finally, anyone who sticks a postage stamp on a letter upside-down is guilty of treason. And the head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen. 

Legal or ludicrous? Makes you wonder why all these daft obsolete laws haven’t been repealed. But then, the Government’s probably far too busy dealing with all the endless new EU laws… and fraught upcoming referendum.   

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Landscape of Lies,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Soul Stealer,’ ‘The De Clerambault Code’ ( available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore. All profits to Cudeca charity.   


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