Never Knowingly Undersold – How John Lewis Ended Up in HMP Brixton

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John Lewis

John Lewis is an institution almost as old as Brixton prison – celebrating its 150th birthday this year.  It has associations with comfort and luxury – but its eponymous founder once spent three weeks in the less salubrious surroundings of the south London jail.  Mr Lewis had been embroiled in a 23 year legal battle with the landlord of his store off Oxford Street over the right to erect a shop facade.  The case came to court in 1903, but despite employing four of the most distinguished barristers of the day, including the son of prime minister Henry Asquith, Lewis lost.  On refusing to pay the symbolic fine of a farthing he was sent to Brixton.  Despite being in his late seventies at the time, he managed to survive three weeks before relenting and paying up.

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