Lawyer in ‘Lady Chat­ter­ley’ case

JEREMY HUTCHIN­SON, 1915 - 2017

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - news.obits@la­times.com

Jeremy Hutchin­son, a tow­er­ing le­gal fig­ure who helped lib­er­al­ize Bri­tish laws and world at­ti­tudes about sex and free­dom of ex­pres­sion, has died. He was 102.

Hutchin­son’s for­mer law firm, Three Ray­mond Build­ings, said he died Mon­day. No cause of death was given.

In 1960 he was part of the team that suc­cess­fully de­fended Pen­guin Books against ob­scen­ity charges for pub­lish­ing D.H. Lawrence’s novel “Lady Chat­ter­ley’s Lover.” The case was con­sid­ered a wa­ter­shed ob­scen­ity trial.

The book was first pub­lished in Italy in 1928, but was banned in its full un­cen­sored form in Bri­tain un­til Pen­guin pub­lished it in 1960. A heav­ily cen­sored ver­sion of the book was pub­lished in the United States in 1928.

The novel scan­dal­ized some with its ex­plicit de­scrip­tion of sex and its use of words then deemed un­print­able.

Dur­ing the trial, a prose­cu­tion lawyer in­fa­mously asked in court whether it was “a book that you would ... wish your wife or your ser­vants to read?”

Hutchin­son felt that at­ti­tude was out of touch with an in­creas­ingly lib­eral and egal­i­tar­ian so­ci­ety, and the jury proved him right.

The lay­wer also fought to have as many fe­male ju­rors as pos­si­ble be­cause, he later said, “women are so much more sen­si­ble about sex.”

He went on to fight in court on be­half of the erotic novel “Fanny Hill,” the ex­plicit movie “Last Tango in Paris” and the aca­demic book “The Mouth and Oral Sex.”

In 1982 he de­fended the di­rec­tor of the play “The Ro­mans In Bri­tain” ac­cused of gross in­de­cency. Other clients in­cluded model Chris­tine Keeler, a key fig­ure in the 1963 sex-and-es­pi­onage scan­dal known as the Pro­fumo Af­fair; Soviet spy Ge­orge Blake; and drug smug­gler Howard Marks.

Born in 1915 to par­ents who were part of Lon­don’s lit­er­ary Blooms­bury group, Hutchin­son at­tended Ox­ford Univer­sity and served in the Royal Navy dur­ing World War II, sur­viv­ing the tor­pe­do­ing of his ship, the de­stroyer Kelly, dur­ing the Bat­tle of Crete.

Af­ter the war he be­came a crim­i­nal lawyer and was made a mem­ber of the House of Lords in 1978 as Baron Hutchin­son of Lulling­ton.

Hutchin­son was mar­ried to ac­tress Peggy Ashcroft from 1940 un­til their divorce in 1966; she died in 1991. In 1966 he mar­ried June Os­born, who died in 2006. He is sur­vived by a son and a daugh­ter.

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