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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 16:27 GMT
Princess Royal's day in court
Princess Anne and husband Tim Laurence leaving court
The Princess Royal and her husband leaving court

At 7am a spaniel sniffing for explosives was bounding round the entrance hall of East Berkshire magistrates court.

Outside the road had been closed off with colourful police cones.

Inside a sizeable slice of Thames Valley constabulary were waiting to body-search the platoon of journalists who descended on the small building.

Princess Anne said she wanted to be treated the same as anyone else when it came to this hearing.


Her Royal Highness looked relieved as it became clear that her dog was going to be saved

However, when it came to searches she was the only woman who didn't have her handbag searched as she came into court.

Once inside she had to stand to confirm her name, age and address and enter her plea of guilty.

She was charged with having a dog which was dangerously out of control.

Beside her sat the royal solicitor Mark Bridges and a top London barrister Hugo Keith.

They had come to fight for the life of Dottie, the Princess Royal's bull terrier which had bitten two children on a day out in Windsor Great Park.

In solemn legal tones, Mr Keith explained why Dottie should not be destroyed. This was one of the punishments open to the judge.

'Warning'

Dottie, the court heard, was a boisterous, energetic friendly three year-old.

The written evidence of one character witness said the dog was "like a big puppy".

Leading expert on animal aggression Dr Roger Mugford stepped into the witness box to testify on Dottie's behalf.

He'd had a session with the royal dog, putting her to the test and in his opinion she was not a danger to the public.

In the end the judge showed clemency.

Her Royal Highness looked relieved as it became clear that her dog was going to be saved.

But there was a warning, any more trouble and it would be the end for Dottie.


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