I’ve been watching the story unfold over the day about this man who, it was reported, has been “falsely using the name Christopher Edward Buckingham” which he “stole” from a baby, indeed it was suggested that he had stolen the baby’s identity and had done so for the last 23 years.

The present law in this country though permits someone to change their name through deed poll, statutory declaration, or just by common usage so long as it isn’t done for “pecuniary advantage” and despite the man’s ex-wife saying she was “deceived” by him and, like the police, wants to know his “real name” I can’t see what all the fuss is about. If she had known him by a different name wouldn’t he smell as sweet? Would it have made any difference to her life? Of course not; she met someone and if his choice of name was the top item in her decision as to whether to marry him or not then I’d suggest she has far bigger problems!

The police, meanwhile, insist he “must have something to hide” and, again, want to know his “real” name. “For some value of real” would seem to be the issue raised here again, as if someone has been known as Mr. X for 23 years then, even if not born with that name, how is it any less real than the name they started out with? Presumably he paid his taxes, his bank charges, his tv licence and passport fee. All he is guilty of seems to be trying to make the name a little more “official” by makig a false application to get a passport in that name. If he had used either of the methods which give an official record of the name change he could quite happily have got a passport in exactly the same name as he has been using for those 23 years without a problem.