LONDON - British lawyer and author John Mortimer, a free press defender and creator British TV's Rumpole of the Bailey, died Friday. He was 85.

A Labour Party supporter all his life, Mortimer defended obscenity charges against Penguin Books' publication of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in the 1960s. In the '70s, he represented the British left-wing magazine Oz at an obscenity trial and defended Gay News magazine in a blasphemy case.

 In addition to his law career, Mortimer wrote dozens of books, plays, films and radio dramas spanning the 1940s to present-day. The persnickety defense attorney Rumpole was his most famous creation, however, appearing in a long-running TV program played by the late Leo McKern and in a series of novels.

He also wrote the popular 1981 television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

Mortimer called himself a "champagne socialist."