It seems the prize for 2005's most ridiculous excuse may have already been won after Abu Hamza refused to appear at the Old Bailey today because "his toenails are too long".
The former Imam of Finsbury Park mosque was due to appear via video-link from a special room at Belmarsh prison (his current residence) to answer charges of terrorism, but refused to leave his cell complaining that he couldn't walk.
Hamza's defence counsel said "He has been perambulating around the prison bare foot for the last couple of days. It is a long-standing problem."
(Perambulating? Presumably if he'd just said 'walking' that wouldn't have taken as long and he wouldn't have been paid as much.)
Of course Hamza is unable to clip his own toenails because he has no hands (and presumably no specially-made nail clipper extension for his hook, although that would be pretty cool).
Claims that Hamza had ducked out of the trial in order to appear in Peter Pan at the Ashcroft theatre, Croydon are completely unfounded.
Other feeble excuses throughout history have included:
Mussolini attacking Ethiopia because, "there was nothing good on the telly".
Augusto Pinochet's complaint that he was unfit to stand trial due to "stage fright".
The Unabomber's explanation that he did what he did because, "I'm a bit mad me".
And of course Hitler's claim that the motive behind the invasion of Poland was "to brighten the place up a bit".