Declassified files reveal plot to ban Geldof’s “obscene” book


By Rory Reynolds

GOVERNMENT ministers debated whether to ban rock star Bob Geldof’s autobiography over its “obscene” content.

Newly-declassified government documents have revealed how Scottish Office ministers blacklisted Geldof’s 1987 international bestseller ‘Is That It?’ from schools in Scotland.

And John Mackay, Scottish education minister at the time, even suggested that the book, which contains sexual “perversion”, may be banned under obscenity laws.

The book was brought to the attention of the Scottish Office when an angry parent complained that it was being used in her daughter’s higher English class.

The mother wrote: “I am very concerned about the effects on young people of the contents of this book.“I consider Bob Geldof’s autobiography to be highly unsuitable for use in schools.


“Is there any way of ensuring that schools are forbidden to use such material?”

The parent’s letter referred to, “obscenities throughout, an irresponsible attitude to the drugs LSD and marijuana, and descriptions of sexual relations, which include perversion”.

The letter adds that there is, “violence, sadomasochism and the attempted seduction of Bob Geldof by a transsexual.”

In the autobiography, the Boomtown Rats frontman details his numerous sexual escapades with fans, as well as drug-taking, and a visit to a seedy German cabaret club where a topless dancer covers herself in hot wax.

The autobiography also contains graphic descriptions of sexual encounters with his future wife Paula Yates.

Obscene material

In a letter to James Douglas-Hamilton, a junior minister, John Mackay wrote: “I entirely agree that this book appears to be highly unsuitable for use in schools.

“I can assure you that it is extremely unlikely that any pupils in Scottish schools will ever come across this book.

“I should add that the law relating to the display or publications of obscene material is contained in Section 51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 which deems it an offence to sell or distribute such material to anyone, regardless of age.

“Whether or not material is deemed to be obscene is, of course, a matter for the courts to decide.”

Worldwide hit

In reply, Douglas-Hamilton, now Lord Selkirk of Douglas, agreed with the parent, saying: “It does seem to me that she has a point.

“I should be grateful if careful consideration could be given to what she has written.”

Despite the ministers’ comments, Geldof’s book charting his rock star life became a worldwide hit.

The Beatles’ official biographer Hunter Davies described it as “direct, loud-mouthed, honest, buttonholing, compassionate, compelling and terrific.

He added: “Everyone over the age of 13 should read it.”

A spokeswoman for Bob Geldof said she would bring the ministers’ letters, which have been released early under Freedom of Information legislation, to his attention.

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