'Rumpole' creator John Mortimer dies

Sir John Mortimer QC, a left-wing lawyer and writer whose most famous creation was "Rumpole of the Bailey", has died aged 85. He also successfully defended Penguin over obscenity charges against DH Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover".


AFP - Veteran British writer and leftwing lawyer John Mortimer, whose most famous creation was curmudgeonly old London barrister "Rumpole Of The Bailey", died Friday aged 85, his family said.

Mortimer -- also known for defending "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and the underground magazine Oz against obscenity charges -- died peacefully at his home in the Chiltern Hills, northwest of London, they said.

"His wife and family were at his side," they said in a statement.

Mortimer's prolific literary output often poked fun at the legal profession.

Starting out in the 1940s, he was a prodigious author of plays, novels and television and movie scripts, including the 1999 "Tea with Mussolini" directed by Italian film and opera legend Franco Zeffirelli.

A vociferous supporter of the Labour Party, he was a sharp-tongued critic of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher before her ouster and the election of a Labour government in 1997.

As a lawyer he successfully defended Penguin in the 1960s over obscenity charges against D.H. Lawrence's steamy book "Lady Chatterley's Lover", doing the same for the publishers of the magazine Oz in 1971.

"Rumpole Of The Bailey" was turned into a long-running television series and string of radio programmes.

Tony Lacey, his editor at publishers Viking, said: "It's hard to think he's gone. At least we're lucky enough to have Rumpole to remind us just how remarkable he was."

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