R. v. Westgate
Peter A. Simm attained brief worldwide notoriety as sole defence counsel in R. v. Westgate et al. (2002). He successfully obtained withdrawal of all charges against all 7 Defendants, per section 174 of the Criminal Code (“being nude in a public place”).
During Toronto’s 2002 Gay Pride Parade, Simm’s clients had walked down Yonge Street in broad daylight wearing nothing but shoes. There were hundreds of thousands of witnesses, including dozens of police officers, supplemented by high-definition footage shot by professional videographers. The 7 men were arrested at the end of the parade route.
Simm — who had lectured internationally on the law of nudity — was retained pro bono to submit a detailed brief to the Regional Senior Crown Attorney, Paul Culver, setting out his analysis of pertinent law and the factual context. This convinced Mr. Culver to concede in writing on Sept. 18, 2002 that there was “no reasonable prospect of a conviction,” and to withdraw all charges against all 7 accused.
Simm’s achievement of this exceptional outcome garnered five seconds of national and worldwide media notoriety, including the front page of the National Post, congratulations in Maclean’s Magazine, and reports in the U.S., Brazil, the UK (both England & Scotland), Ireland, Spain, Italy, Norway, Russia, Angola, India, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Media outlets reporting this victory ranged from Pravda to The Wall Street Journal , and from NBC’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” to The Times of London. (See below for enlargeable images of 61 sample mainstream media reports, including 39 foreign.) As well, 7 books contain some discussion of this case.
Because Simm has zero criminal trial experience, he expressly warned the 7 accused (before they retained him) that if he did not quickly succeed in getting all the charges withdrawn, he would have to help them find experienced criminal trial counsel to take over carriage of the file. Fortunately that turned out to be unnecessary.
International news wire services
Canadian Press wire service
Canadian national media
U.S. national media
U.S. local media
Ontario local media
Quebec & Atlantic Canada media