What Was NCROPA?

  By VennerRoad, 1st Oct 2014

NCROPA delegation to the Home Office.

NCROPA or N.C.R.O.P.A. was launched by the actor David Webb with a letter to the London Evening Standard at the end of April 1976 as the National Campaign for the Repeal of the Obscene Publications Acts; the name was shortly amended to the National Campaign for the Reform of the Obscene Publications Acts.

In a 1986 article, Hail, Smiling Porn?, published in The Author, Webb explained how the inspiration for NCROPA came to him in November 1967, although he didn’t do anything about it for another decade. Webb was an autocrat, but the organisation was governed by a committee which included at various times the author Alexander Barrie (not to be confused with Alexander Baron); the academic and politician Professor Gerald Fowler; Sean Gabb (later the UK’s leading Libertarian); the actress Pamela Manson; and the solicitor E.A.C. (Ted) Goodman - see photograph.

Although the organisation accepted donations from among others the publisher David Sullivan, it had a rule that no one with a commercial interest in “pornography” could become a Committee Member, thus the cinema club proprietor David Waterfield was allowed to become an ordinary member but not to influence NCROPA policy.

Famous members included the aforementioned publisher David Sullivan (member number 18); the actor Dudley Moore (number 10); porn star Mary Millington (number 19); and the barrister/author John Mortimer (number 63).

NCROPA was very active in the 1980s, mostly in London; in 1981, a seven member delegation lobbied the Home Office. Its peak was probably 1983 when David Webb stood as the anti-censorship candidate against Prime Minister incumbent Margaret Thatcher in her Finchley constituency. By the year 2000 however it was virtually moribund, and by the time David Webb was diagnosed with prostate cancer a decade and more later, it existed in name only.

David Webb and family

On the death of its founder, NCROPA effectively ceased to exist; Webb’s executor, Committee Member and Legal Consultant E.A.C. Goodman took over as Acting Director; Goodman preserved the entire NCROPA archive delivering it to one-time NCROPA member Alexander Baron who scanned a selection of the documents for the on-line NCROPA Virtual Archive. The two men then arranged for the papers to be donated to an institution in accord with its founder’s wishes. On December 12, 2013, the NCROPA papers were delivered to Warwick University where they have been incorporated into its Modern Records Centre.

In the above photograph with NCROPA founder David Webb are his elderly mother, and his elder sister - who at the time of writing is still alive.

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