Rod Liddle

Let’s hear it for the family from hell

Rod Liddle meets the mother and father of Leighanne Black, the notoriously abusive 14-year-old drink-driver, and finds that they are kind and loyal parents

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At last there’s the sound of an upstairs window opening, and a woman’s tousled head reveals itself. ‘Stand back, where I can see you!’ it shouts down to me. I pad around for a moment or two on the nicely trimmed front lawn. And then, remarkably, the door is opened. ‘You’re not the man who has been sending me abusive messages, are you? Because if you are, my boys, I’m telling you, will kick your f****** head in. Mind, I don’t think you are. I think he were a coloured. He sounded coloured. You can tell from how they speak.’

Meet Nora Black. Nora is Leighanne’s mum, and you will have heard all about Leighanne from her latest spot of bother in the juvenile courts. She was charged with driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, at the tender and innocent age of 14. It was her second appearance for such an offence; the first occurred when she was just 12 years old. But that’s not why she made the papers. She got famous because of the forcible manner in which she expressed exception to her sentence: she shouted abuse at the magistrates and then threw a carafe of water over them, before punching the prosecuting counsel. (‘She never done that. She just pushed her a bit,’ says Nora, offering a late plea of mitigation via the offices of The Spectator. This notwithstanding, Leighanne might get done for the assault now.)

Nora (54) got in on the action too, along with her rather more placid and amenable husband Maurice (62). They turned up in court to support Leighanne equipped with a carton of eggs with which they pelted the snappers from the national newspapers. ‘I bought the eggs just for that reason,’ said Maurice proudly. ‘At Sainsbury’s.’

According to the tabloids, Nora also ‘mooned’ at the photographers, she bent over, pulled down her black nylon slacks and shouted out the instruction: ‘F****** photograph that, then.’ Nora, however, demurs at this allegation. ‘That’s not my arse, it’s my blouse. Look at it!’ she says, directing me to a fairly unpleasant photograph of the event in the Sun. ‘I didn’t moon. I just pointed to my backside. And I didn’t tell the newspapers that Leighanne was a good shag, either. What mum would say that of her daughter?’ she asks.

Well, whisper it quietly, but I suspect she’s telling the truth on both counts. But the elevation of Leighanne Black into a chav-ultra, an