The Trials of Oz - the Justice Game

The Trials of Oz – writing about the perspectives

In Robertson’s ‘first’ case, he describes himself as being “in the well of the court, as stage-hand for the defence.” The theatrical term sets the tenor for the rest of his narrative and he continues the theatre analogy using terms such as, “stage”, “rehearse” and “cast”. Robertson’s perspective is extended by the memory of his first experience of British justice at the Old Bailey, but in this text it is also influenced by the passage of years and by his experience of later writing and seeing produced his own play, based on the case. This courtroom drama became a drama of the courtroom for Robertson, literally.

His depiction of Judge Argyle as a tyrant heads the theatricality of his recount. “It seemed at times that we were all serving the interests of entertainment,” Robertson wrote, as he draws the image of the judge crying “Silence….This is a courtroom not a theatre”, before going on to explain that Mortimer would leave the trial each day to go to rehearsals of his play “with a sense that he was returning to real life.”

Robertson’s disdain for the judge is matched by his attitude to the material in Oz 28 using Leary’s comment “Extraordinary it may be, but whatever it is, it’s not genius” and describing it as ‘the worst of Oz’. What Robertson is more concerned with is the archaic system of law being used to pillory the defendants and their right to publish. Whilst at the same time he is highlighting the corruption of the police and media in their hypocritical guise of upholding “public morals”.

His sarcasm and ironic tone clearly give his view of the state of affairs at the time. Police evidence is described as “amateur hour” having been constructed by officers themselves, in order to get a conviction. Robertson’s prosaic description of the process is scathing “More of less everyone committed perjury.” This use of the sweeping statement is a feature of his writing. It is not stated as opinion but as...