To Live Outside the Law

published by Serpent's Tail on July 7, 2011

OPERATION JULIE, BRITAIN'S BIGGEST DRUGS BUST, had only ever been told from the official point of view. Until now…

  • On a cold March morning in 1977, in coordinated raids on eighty seven houses, over eight hundred police officers arrested more than a hundred people and brought to an end a huge LSD manufacturing and distribution ring.

  • To Live Outside the Law is the first, and only, insider account of this conspiracy. But the book is much more than just that, it is also a compelling personal story, one which offers remarkable insights into a time, a mindset, a generation and a major chapter in British criminal history... and it’s an absolutely thrilling read.

To Live Outside the Law opens with Leaf’s arrest in a pre-dawn police raid and ends five years later with his release from jail.


The narrative moves back and forth between the harsh, dangerous world of prison and the events that led him there – starting from a childhood blighted by personal tragedy and a brutal boarding school, onto undergraduate days and his LSD epiphany in the summer of ’67. Acid transformed him in an instant from nerdy scholar to footloose freak. His ten years of ridiculous and extraordinary adventures in the hippie underground gave the title to this book – they took him from Reading, Berkshire across Europe, to Indochina, to the Andes and on to the edge of the known universe. They also led inexorably to his downfall.


The book doesn’t seek to make excuses – or indeed to apologise – instead it aims to explain and entertain. The title is from a Bob Dylan song – the full quotation is ‘To live outside the law you must be honest’ and honesty is at the heart of this extraordinary work.

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