By Len A.Hynds

A lady store detective employed by a local supermarket, after we had dealt with the shoplifter she had brought in, sat in our canteen gossiping to me about her firm. She told me that just the previous day a lady had asked to see the manager as she had broken a front tooth on a piece of glass or crystal inside a potato salad bought previously at the store.

I thought nothing of that piece of information, until a week later I had occasion to go to the same supermarket on another matter, and whilst speaking to the manager in his office, I casually mentioned it. He appeared flustered at my enquiry, and told me that it had been dealt with from Head Office, and that he mustn't discuss it as apparently a titled person was involved.

Being intrigued, I would not leave until he told me that it was a titled lady, by the name of Phillimore, who lived in Earls Court, and that somebody from Head Office had been to see her and she had been paid a sum of money. The firm wanted no publicity but she had produced a letter from a Mayfair dentist, as to the cost of removing the stump, and replacing it with a false tooth.

He had seen the broken tooth himself, which disfigured the face of this pretty young Lady Phillimore. He understood that she had been paid a thousand pounds. I had nagging doubts about this, but there was very little I could do.

It was a week or so later, in a solicitors office, having a cup of tea with a friend, when I spotted a large volume of Burkes Peerage in his book-case. I looked up Lady Phillimore, and sure enough she was there. On my drive home that day I thought again about the case, but I couldn't put my finger on the cause for all these doubts. Suddenly it struck me! In the book she was described as an elderly lady, whereas this Lady Phillimore had been a young woman.

There could still be a logical answer to all this, but I made a point of visiting the managers of supermarkets far and wide, and there were five more who told me that a Lady Phillimore had claimed she had broken that tooth on potato salad bought from them, and they had all paid her money.

I eventually arrested one young lady and her boyfriend for one magnificent scam, and there must have been untold losers, who declined to admit that they had been caught out.