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The defendants were determined to fight what they considered to be an important test case - the freedom of the press to publish information - an issue which had been debated at length ten years previously when the then Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Bill had been on its passage through Parliament. To fund the action a 'Wavelength Legal Aid Appeal Fund' was launched and a number of offshore radio discos were held in London and south east England with guest appearances by the L A Band and offshore DJs.

On 31st March 1978 Magistrates decided to allow the case to be heard by a jury at Knightsbridge Crown Court and, on legal advice, Music Radio Productions ceased trading pending that hearing. All their business activities were immediately taken over by Flashback Promotions which operated from the same address.

It was over another year, however, before the case finally came before Knightsbridge Crown Court. in mid-July 1979. At the hearing eight of the original charges were dropped, eight ‘not guilty’ pleas were accepted and eight ‘guilty’ pleas were entered by the defendants. Those they pleaded guilty to were:- 1) promoting Radio Caroline by selling T shirts, 2) promoting Radio Caroline by selling badges, 3) allowing an advert for Music Radio Promotions to be broadcast on Radio Caroline and 4) publicising Radio Caroline in a magazine published by them.

The judge hearing the case instructed the jury to study twelve advertisements in Wavelength Magazine and decide if any of them implied that Radio Caroline was still broadcasting. The jury decided that four of the advertisements did promote the station and the two defendants were both fined £50 for each offence, but costs were not awarded.


After Radio Caroline’s ship, Mi Amigo sank in March 1980, quite naturally there were no further prosecutions under the MOA  - until the station returned from a new ship, Ross Revenge, in August 1983.The number of prosecutions escalated still further after the arrival of the Laser ship, MV Communicator in  January 1984.

The first case (against a Radio Caroline DJ) was heard at  Woodbridge Magistrates Court on 19th July 1984.  The Court was told that an off duty police officer had witnessed provisions being loaded onto a launch at Melton and suspected it was planning to visit Radio Caroline's ship, Ross Revenge. Later Police and Home Office officials watched crates being landed on the Ross Revenge from  the launch and personnel transferring to it from the radio ship. The launch was boarded when it docked at Melton and some Radio Caroline staff were found to be on board.

The Radio Caroline DJ pleaded guilty and was fined £500 with £100 costs.

Other defendants, who had been arrested at the same time appeared in Court at Woodbridge on 13th September 1984. All pleaded 'guilty' to taking supplies to Radio Caroline in contravention of the MOA. The owner of the boat involved was fined £60 while the other two crewmen  were fined £40 each.

The three men  were summonsed to appear before Sheerness Magistrates Court on 13th April 1984, but in the event one defendant did not attend and the charges against him were heard in his absence. The defence solicitor told the Court that the aerial engineer had been assured by Laser’s American management that as long as the radio ship was outside British territorial limits there was nothing illegal in what he was doing.

However, the Court were not persuaded by this argument and the aerial engineer  was found guilty and fined £500, with £50 costs, the welder was discharged by the Court due to insufficient prosecution evidence, while the case against the yard owner was adjourned to a later date to give him a chance to attend Court.

The defence solicitor told the Court:- " A conscious decision was made on the part of the Editor and journalist to expose  an absurd state of affairs. It has for some time been the editorial policy of the Star to get involved in investigative journalism, that is no longer the domain of the so-called quality newspapers....If those investigations mean that one has to tread on the toes of the establishment then that is the risk one has to take."

The journalist stated in his evidence that "..this was a serious subject, but we decided to treat it in a lighthearted way. We wanted to see whether taxpayers money was being used effectively and judiciously. When we got out there it was anything but."

Summing up the defence solicitor said: "The moral of our story was to show that public money was not being spent efficiently and that the ships were still being supplied. Do two bottles of champagne, one T-shirt and a few copies of the Star add one jot to the sustentation and comfort of that station? I say they do not. The dignity and common sense of this Court has been reduced to an absurdity. I say the Star struck a blow for freedom. The press depends on the good sense of the courts to protect it in the kind of situation we find ourselves in."

However, the journalist  pleaded 'guilty' to the charges and was conditionally discharged for six months, and ordered to pay £50 costs.

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Passage Through Parliament

Arguments Against Offshore Radio

Campaign Groups

On Air Promos

Station Closures

Isle of Man Constitutional Crisis


Legislative Amendments


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