The Oz trial

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  • Intro

    Oz magazine was an underground publication, originally from Australia, but launched in London in February 1967 and continued until 1973. It formed a strong part of an emerging UK counterculture. Oz is most notorious for a run-in with the law in 1971 after the publication of the Oz 'School Kids Issue'.

     

    Twenty young people between ages 14 and 18 were selected to edit the School Kids issue (issue 28). They were given editorial freedom and the result was a mixture of articles and cartoon strips which communicated the teenage view on music, sexual freedom, hypocrisy, drug use, corporal punishment and education. The following year Oz was unexpectedly raided by the Obscene Publications Squad. Issue 28 was seized and Oz's three editors were charged with obscenity and conspiring to 'debauch and corrupt the morals of young children'.

     

    Oz lost its case. The editors were cleared of the corruption charge but were found guilty under the Obscene Publications Act. In August 1971, having been refused bail and kept in prison for 7 days the three editors received fines and prison sentences. After an outcry by supporters and anti-censorship campaigners, the verdict was overturned at appeal.

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