Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Oz Obscenity Trial

Currently reading Geoffrey Robertson's legal memoirs "The Justice Game", and came across his recollections of the great Oz obscenity trial, of which he was a counsel for the defence, while continuing his studies at Oxford. Both Geoffrey Robertson and OZ originated in Australia; possibly two of our finer exports. The issue in question was the School Kids Issue, in particular, the comic depicting a childhood character Rupert Bear engaging in sexual activity with Gipsy Granny, which got the squares of the Old Bailey's knickers in a knot...

Lifted from counterculture wiki

The OZ magazine case of 1971 was the longest obscenity trial in British legal history. The original sentences of up to 15 months for Richard Neville and the other defendants sparked a wave of protest from many, including John Lennon. With Yoko Ono, Lennon joined the protest march against the prosecution and organised the recording of 'God Save OZ' by the Elastic Oz Band, released on Apple Records.

At the time in Britain, conspiracy to pervert the course of public morals carried a life sentence and the defence of the OZ magazine defendants was an important libertarian cause. The fuss and hilarious court case were all about Edition 28, 'The Schoolkids Issue', which was worked on by school students as well as the staff. More specifically, a sexualised cartoon of the popular children's book character Rupert Bear was the culprit.

Felix Dennis, who was given a lesser sentence because the court viewed him as "very much less intelligent" than Neville and Anderson, went on to become one of Britain's wealthiest and most prominent publishers. OZ co-founder Richard Walsh became one of Australia’s most prominent conservative publishers. Richard Neville is one of Australia’s best selling authors and a prominent media figure. Martin Sharp is one of Australia’s best-known visual artists.

The OZ defence barrister, John Mortimer, is one of Britain's best-selling authors and creator of the acclaimed 'Rumpole of the Bailey' books and TV series, and Brideshead Revisited. His assisting counsel, Geoffrey Robertson, is a prominent Queen's Counsel as well as a well-known Australian media identity. He has argued many landmark cases in the European Court of Human Rights, the House of Lords, the Privy Council and Commonwealth courts. He has conducted a number of missions on behalf of Amnesty International. He is the author of numerous books, and a play, The Trials of Oz, which won a BAFTA 'Best Play' nomination, and the recipient of a 1993 Freedom of Information Award. He was appointed to the Appeals Chamber of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, and is a Visiting Professor in Law at several universities.

Some more of their technicoloured editions


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