9

Dumbledore says this before Mrs Figg enters the courtroom:

Dumbledore cleared his throat. The Wizengamot fell silent again.

"We do, in fact, have a witness to the presence of dementors in that alleyway," he said, "other than Dudley Dursley, I mean."

The notion of Dudley as a witness is thereby treated as self-evidently out of the question. But why should it be so?

  • Are Muggles not permitted inside the Ministry? We've seen Hermione's parents in Diagon Alley.
  • Are they not considered valid witnesses? Dumbledore later offers to summon Dobby to testify about the pudding incident, and house-elves are similarly "sub-wizard".
  • Was Dudley unavailable? His school term still hadn't started, and even if it had, Dumbledore has ways of finagling things with the Muggle authorities.
  • Was Dudley unwilling? Certainly most if not all of his previous encounters with the wizarding world have caused varying degrees of trauma, but judging from his behavior in Deathly Hallows, the fact that Harry had saved Dudley's own life and was at risk of losing everything he ever loved as a consequence might've been sufficient motivation.
  • Were his parents unwilling? Certainly Vernon would've been hostile, but Petunia knows enough that she'd probably be open to persuasion -- "help the Ministry understand they need to crack down on the creatures that almost killed your son" or the like.

I'm tentatively leaning toward "invalid witness" -- elves may be considered subhuman, but they're at least part of wizarding society.

  • I don't remember the book enough and I can't check it, but isn't it also possible that the court (being a kangaroo court) intentionally dismissed Dudley as a witness, in order to have no defence for Harry? – George T Dec 12 '16 at 10:10
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/155372/… – EJS Jun 20 '17 at 20:11
14

I'd say that Dumbledore could've summoned Dudley but chose not to for a couple of reasons.

  • Primarily, Dumbledore is aware of the substantial prejudice against Muggles that still exists in the wizarding world. This prejudice will not have diminished since Dumbledore was banished from the Wizengamot. Dudley's evidence would most likely have not counted for much, considering that many wizards look down on Muggles or at the very least find their ways to be utterly befuddling.
  • Dudley can't really add anything that Mrs Figgs' evidence hasn't already said. He can support it. But if he couldn't really add anything new then Dumbledore would probably have concluded that it wasn't worth the effort of dragging him in.
  • Dudley's testimony would've been pretty sketchy anyway since he was unable to physically see the Dementors.

    "Dementors would make a very nice little cover story, very nice indeed. Muggles can't see Dementors, can they, boy? Highly convenient, highly convenient...so it's just your word and no witnesses..."
    (Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8, The Hearing).

  • Dudley was related to Harry and so may have been thought to have been a biased witness. This wouldn't have rendered his testimony as invalid. But it would likely have made it less convincing in the eyes of a jury since he may just be covering for Harry.
  • As the question states, Dudley probably would've been very unwilling to attend a magical court and his parents would certainly have raised objections ("I'm not letting my son be taken off to some crackpot court system run by a bunch of you-know-whats" etc. etc.). It was daunting enough for a wizard like Harry to attend the trial. I think it's certain that, given Dudley's general fear of the wizarding world, he would've found it all too much to bear.
  • I'd dispute points 2 and 3, what with Mrs Figg having been further away and Dudley having been able to see and hear Harry right there, but otherwise this seems spot-on. And come to think of it, even if Dudley had been inclined to do something for Harry, there's no guarantee he would've been brave enough to go into the wizarding world. He's never been known for his courage. – Shay Guy Dec 13 '16 at 5:20
  • 1
    @ShayGuy Dudley could testify to the coldness, the emotional anguish and the sounds of the Dementors, but this probably wouldn't have been enough to convince a jury of their presence there. After all, he can't see them and he blanked out halfway through. Even if the Wizengamot did believe him it simply corroborates Mrs Figgs' story. It doesn't add anything new. – The Dark Lord Dec 13 '16 at 17:01
3

I would lean toward "invalid witness" as well. (I do not think that that Vernon would have let Dudley testify anyways.) Muggles cannot see Dementors, therefore are not valid witnesses, plus if you remember, when it was put forth that Mrs. Figgs was a Squib, the Wizengamot was unwilling to take her word for it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.