Millions around the world are in mourning following yesterday’s announcement by Downing Street that Santa Claus was dead – cut down by a hail of police bullets as he stood astride the chimney pot of Number Ten, waving a loaded magnum revolver and shouting anti-globalisation slogans. “We really had no choice – he was like a mad dog,” explains Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Brian Mingo, whose officers have been attacked in the street by gangs of grief-stricken children following the incident. “People might like to think of him as a kindly do-gooding old man but, believe me, he represented a real threat to the public when we took him out – his sack was stuffed with enough guns and explosives to take out half of London!” The fatal shooting in Downing Street was the culmination of what has been described by the authorities as a ‘reign of terror’ on the part of Santa, during which he attacked shops and businesses, abused Christmas shoppers, sabotaged corporate festive decorations and stole children’s presents.

Whilst the official explanation offered for Santa’s bizarre behaviour has focused on the bitterness he felt at his increasing marginalisation in Christmas celebrations, his supporters have claimed that he was making a brave stand against the commercialisation of Christmas by giant multinational corporations. “He was bitter all right – wouldn’t you be if you’d seen your life’s work hijacked by faceless suits only interested in a fast buck?” asks Sam Danna, formerly one of Santa’s elves. “The old boy was just trying to reclaim Christmas for traditional values- it was like Jesus throwing the money-lenders out of the temple! When he swapped all those children’s’ expensive gifts for oranges, toy soldiers and dolls, he was simply trying to teach them the true meaning of the festive season – it’s the simple act of giving, not the value of the gift that counts.” However, many disagree, branding Santa’s tactics as ‘mean-spirited’, ‘irresponsible’ and ‘down right dangerous’. “It’s all very well banging on about ‘traditional values’, but how do you think all those poor kiddies expecting to wake up to an X-Box are going to feel when they find their stockings filled with badly made cheap crap? And let’s not forget the appalling level of violence employed by Father Christmas during this campaign – dropping live hand grenades down the chimneys of families who didn’t leave him sherry and mince pies, sleigh-by shootings of carol singers and firebomb attacks on department stores,” says MIngo, who rejects Danna’s claims that the expensive gifts Santa stole had been redistributed to poor and needy children in the Third World, suspecting that they were instead sold on the black market, probably to fund international terrorism. “I’d hardly describe such behaviour as bringing goodwill to all men.”

Although the world’s children might be in mourning at the loss of a favourite seasonal character, most people seem to be glad to see the back of Santa. “He just couldn’t accept that times were moving on – the festive season isn’t just some piddling little semi-religious festival anymore, it’s a commercial phenomenon,” explains Sir Gerald Foyst, a spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). “Consumers simply didn’t want those twee hand crafted gifts he delivered. Kids today don’t want hand-painted wooden soldiers – they want I-pods and playstations! At the end of the day Santa and his altruistic handmade Yuletide couldn’t compete with the modern mass-produced consumer Christmas – it was simply a question of market economics!” There was also surprisingly little sympathy from the left, with a spokesperson for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) pointing out that Santa had previously been happy to accept corporate support. “Let’s not forget that he happily exchanged his traditional green for red when Coca Cola offered to sponsor him! He had no qualms about becoming a corporate spokesman for one of the world’s most notorious multinationals,” observes TUC Vice Chairperson Chris Cundy. “I’m afraid I just don’t buy this anti-capitalist stand of his – he was just another disgruntled ex-employee. If only he’d allowed union organisation in his workshops, we could have supported him in an unfair dismissal case and avoided all this trouble.”

With demand for his wooden rocking horses, traditional teddy bears and carved farm animals falling, Santa had found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet over the past few years. Evicted from his North Pole home when he failed to keep up his mortgage repayments, he found himself forced to relocate to a council house on a rundown Swansea estate. “He quickly fell into a spiral of drink, depression and debt,” says Deputy Commissioner Mingo. “He was barely surviving on state benefits. Eventually even his sleigh and reindeer were taken by the bailiffs and sold.” St Nicholas’ former neighbours on the estate vividly remember his colourful antics. “He was a bloody disgrace – beard matted with vomit and reeking of booze, he was always running out into the street in his underwear shouting abuse at any kids he saw with hi-tech toys,” recalls Dai Jones, an unemployed scaffolder who lived two doors down from the festive icon. “You should have seen the state of the place – his sleigh was up on bricks on the lawn for months and the inside of the house was covered in reindeer shit, where he let them roam free in there!”

There is much speculation amongst Santa’s former neighbours that, in order to make ends meet, he turned to crime, initially fencing stolen goods for local burglars, before utilising his own extensive experience of breaking and entering people’s homes to carry out his own robberies. According to local rumour, his criminal activities didn’t stop at burglary, with claims that he even dabbled in drugs. “There was a lot of talk that he was selling drugs to the local kiddies,” says Jones. “Well, he had the perfect cover, didn’t he? Children trusted him, he could get close to them without arousing suspicion!” Eventually local vigilantes grew tired of the old man’s alleged criminal activities, and he was driven from the estate by an angry lynch mob. Mingo is in no doubt that crime financed Santa’s final campaign of hate: “Where else did he get the money for all those guns, not to mention a new sleigh and reindeer, eh? These things don’t come cheap!”

Prime Minister Tony Blair has moved quickly to reassure the public that Santa’s death won’t mean the cancellation of Christmas. “We should look upon this as an opportunity to discard our old notions of the festival, and introduce more consumer choice into Christmas,” he told the Commons. “For too long this one man dictated to us all exactly what kind of celebration we should have and when we should have it. Why should you have to celebrate it in December if that’s inconvenient for you? Why should you have to have Christian symbology if you are of another faith? In future we plan to break up this monopoly and franchise the festival – there’ll be a suitable Christmas available for everyone to buy!”