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SPEAKERS

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ANDY ROBERTS
Historian

Andy is a historian of Britain’s LSD psychedelic culture and author of Albion Dreaming: A Social History of LSD in Britain (Marshall Cavendish 2008, 2012) and Acid Drops (Psychedelic Press, 2016). His other research interests include, listening to music, hill walking, beach combing, reading, landscapes and their mysteries, natural history and paranormal phenomena. Musically, he has been severely influenced and affected by the Grateful Dead and the Incredible String Band among a host of others. He first fell down the rabbit hole in 1972 and has been exploring the labyrinth of passages ever since. His views on the psychedelic experience are (basically) – You take a psychedelic and you get high. What happens after that is largely the result of dosage, set and setting.

ABSTRACT

 

March 1977, Britain saw the largest ever series of organised drug squad raids in one twenty four hour period. This was the culmination of a police initiative conducted by a specially created national drug squad and named ‘Operation Julie’ (after one of the police officers involved). ‘Julie’ had been convened in 1975 to identify, track, observe, infiltrate, convict and smash an LSD manufacturing and distribution ring which was producing and supplying millions of doses of high quality LSD.

In Britain this LSD, made by Richard Kemp and Andy Munro, in laboratories based in London and West Wales, was also driving Britain’s Free Festival movement, helping fuel a genuinely alternative culture. Minds were blown and lives permanently changed by the microdots created by Kemp and Munro the purity of whose acid has rarely been equalled.

Elements within the UK government were fully aware of the lifestyle changes being caused by this cheap, widely available and consistently potent LSD and decided the manufacturers, distributors and the core culture it enhanced must be destroyed. And so, via Operation Julie, it was. The pantomime-like show trial and disproportionate sentences – Kemp, for instance receiving a custodial sentence on a par with those handed out to murderers and paedophiles – only served to underscore the State’s contempt for psychedelic culture and their fear of its potential.

With its roots in the 1960s psychedelic revolution, and with links to shadowy figures in the intelligence services, a key member of the Royal Family the history of the events leading up to and culminating in the Operation Julie busts and trial are fascinating and sobering by turn.

Using extracts from contemporaneous audio visual materials, taped interview with one of the two acid chemists a recent (2017) video interview with Smiles (Alston Hughes), this talk brings fresh thought and insight to a part of Britain’s psychedelic history we must not forget and whose full story has not yet been told.