Jeremy Hutchinson, who has died at the age of 102, was one of the greatest advocates of the 20th century.
A lover of poetry of the mundane, he has acted for a number of high profile customers in the evidence that both mirrored and challenged the change of attitude in British society during the 1960s and ‘ 70s. A man of immense charm, and a great love for the weakest, has become the model for John Mortimer, the famous creation, Rumpole of the Bailey. These are only three tests which he made his name.Lady Chatterley’s Lover obscenity trial
The six days of Lady Chatterley’s Lover obscenity trial saw the attitude of the audience for the sex, the class and the Institution exposed to the limelight as never before. Jeremy Hutchinson was a junior lawyer, part of a defence system for Penguin Books, in August 1960 he published the first unexpurgated English edition edition of D H Lawrence novel.
The case was seen as the first major test of the Obscene Publications Act had reached the statute book in exactly a year before. Hutchinson’s main job was to make the defense comments on the jury selection. He decided that he wanted to many women in the jury box, because, as he later recalled, “I have always believed that women are much more sensitive about sex.”
The trial come against a background of a growing social and sexual revolution in the UNITED kingdom and in the post-war period, the youth culture, which has been in discussion many of the attitudes held by the Structure. This point of view has been stressed by the leader of the council for the prosecution, Mervyn Griffiths-Jones, who pompously asked the assembled jurors “Is a book that would also be your wife or your servants to read?”
Hutchinson, whose privileged background made him a part of the Structure itself, had perfected the technique of gently but mockingly pricking the pomposity of buttoned up judges and opposing counsel and this trial was meat and drink to him.
In a BBC interview, he recalled his most exciting moment was the call of one of the witnesses of the defence, the author, And M Forster. “And then, through the door came this little man in a dirty mackintosh. And I was able to say, after having asked him his name and address, ‘I think you have written some novels.'”
The jury deliberated for three hours and returned a verdict of not guilty. The sales of the novel increased as people, many of which, probably, has never heard of Lorenzo, and rushed out to buy.The theft of the Duke of Wellington
The National Gallery
What has become Hutchinson preferred the case started when a former bus driver, Kempton Bunton, walked into a police station in London in July 1965 and has confessed to the theft of Goya’s famous portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery.
The painting had disappeared in August 1961. In the next four years, Bunton has posted a series of notes which baffled the police demanding £140,000 to be given, first of charity, and, subsequently, to pay for TV licenses for the elderly and for the poor.
The painting was finally recovered from a storage locker and Hutchinson was informed to defend Bunton, who went on trial charged with five offences, including the theft of the painting and the frame.
Hutchinson has decided that his defense to the charge of theft would be that Bunton had no intention of keeping the painting, and then was borrowed rather than stolen. He also worked for the jury to be sympathetic to his client, who cut a bit pathetic, in court.
“I had a great ace in the hole,” he recalled, “that the ex-president of the Royal Academy, Sir Gerald Kelly, had written to the Sunday Times, saying that this painting was not to the value of € 140,000, and that he had doubts about its authenticity.”
At the end Bunton has been cleared of four charges, but sentenced to three months imprisonment for the theft of the frame. His lenient sentence may in part be due to the fact that nobody would have been able to explain satisfactorily such as overweight and unfit Life managed to squeeze through the bathroom window through which the painting had been removed. Suspicion later fell on its much more the son, but not the charges were brought
“It was quite a treasure,” said Hutchinson, many years later. “I had an affection for him.” The case of the Romans in Britain
The moral climate of the 1980’s, Britain was far from the time when Hutchinson began his legal career and there were those who felt it had gone too far. So Hutchinson had to defend the well-known director Peter Bogdanov with the prosecution to allow an act of serious indecency, instigated privately by the activist, Mary Whitehouse.
The cost of the Howard Brenton play, The Romans in Britain, written as a comment on imperialism which has characterized a large amount of nudity and an act of simulated anal rape that had, apparently, seen that some audience members fainting in their seats. This last, which has formed the basis of the test.
The key witness for the prosecution was Graham Ross-Cornes, Mary Whitehouse lawyer, who has argued that, from his place in the rear of the theatre, had seen an erect penis in the vicinity of a pair of male buttocks.
Hutchinson, in cross-examination, suggested that the witness was too far away to be able to distinguish the offending organ, and suggested that we had a view of was the actor of the thumb.
In a move that has reduced the court to laughter, the lawyer made a fist under her dress and allowed his thumb to protrude below its life. The case was thrown out.
In 2016, Jeremy Hutchinson, biographer, Thomas Grant, has revealed that the lawyer felt a bit of sympathy for Mrs Whitehouse, who for years has been a figure of fun for the liberal classes. Grant said that Hutchinson had been disturbed by the growth in pornography and had refused to take any more obscenity cases as he felt he could not effectively defend the material.