A dispute between two rich neighbours over a game of football in their communal gardens ended in farce at the High Court, leaving the taxpayer with a £50,000 bill.
City banker Christopher Fleming-Brown was taken to court after he was spotted kicking a ball around with his five-year-old son in the residents-only square in Notting Hill, West London.
His accuser was Paula Lawton, his 63-year-old neighbour, who insisted Mr Fleming-Brown had breached local bye-laws.
In a private prosecution, Miss Lawton took the case to the West London Magistrates' Court, where the Compact Oxford English Dictionary was used to determine whether the 46-year-old father had broken the law.
Magistrates eventually dismissed the case, ruling that as he and his son were not 'teams' they had done nothing wrong.
Miss Lawton, who is single and lives in a one-bedroomed £450,000 garden flat in upmarket Elgin Crescent, was not satisfied and proceeded to take the case to the High Court, where she successfully challenged the magistrates' ruling yesterday.
But Lord Justice Waller, sitting with Mr Justice Treacy, said Mr Fleming-Brown's acquittal would stand, as a retrial would not be in the public interest.
As Miss Lawton technically won her case by proving the pair were playing football, she was not ordered to pay any costs, leaving that burden to the taxpayer.