Friday Reads: The Trials of Oz by Tony Palmer

The Oz trial was the longest obscenity trial in history.

It was also one of the worst reported. With minor exceptions, the Press chose to rewrite what had occurred, presumably to fit in with what seemed to them the acceptable prejudices of the times. Perhaps this was inevitable.

The proceedings dragged on for nearly six weeks in the hot summer of 1971, when there were, no doubt, a great many other events more worthy of attention. Against the background of murder in Ulster, for example, the Oz affair fades into its proper insignificance.

Even so, after the trial, when some newspapers realised that maybe something important had happened, trial and judgement by a badly informed press became the order of the day. A factual account was required.

This revised 50th anniversary edition of The Trials of Oz includes new material by all three of the original defendants, the prosecuting barrister, one of the Oz schoolkids, and even the daughters of the judge. There are also many illustrations, including unseen material from Felix Dennis’ own collection.


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