O.J. in the U.K.

Simpson defends himself at Oxford

May 15, 1996
Web posted at: 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT)

LONDON (CNN) -- Remember the days when O.J. Simpson was known for parlaying his prowess as a professional football player into a successful acting career? Those days were ancient history to the Oxford Union.

Fifteen-hundred Oxford University students came to the debating society hall Tuesday to grill him on the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. He was acquitted of the murders last year. (893K QuickTime movie)


The students, known for their analytical prowess, were expected to ask Simpson pointed questions about his highly publicized trial -- unlike the hosts of the British talk show "Tonight," panned for asking "candyfloss questions" when Simpson appeared on their show Monday.

They did not disappoint. Many of the students are from the United States. Because they got the full media exposure to the trial, they were familiar with details of the case, and pressed him for his explanation of forensic evidence presented in the trial.

Why did Nicole rewrite her will shortly before she was murdered? "Nicole made a will virtually every time we took a flight," he answered.

Why did he take the infamous trip in his Bronco? Not to flee police, he said, but to escape his pain. "I had a tough week. I lost, next to my mom, my most favorite person on earth. I just wanted the pain to stop," he said.

How could he come to Oxford and not express shame for beating his ex-wife? He said he was ashamed, but also accused Nicole of battery. He implied that such information was never revealed in the trial because "I have one rule with my lawyers: We can't do anything to trash Nicole."


Many Oxford students think their university should also be ashamed for inviting Simpson, who pled no contest to charges of spousal abuse, to speak in a hall that has in the past hosted heads of state.

But they said his responses were "well rehearsed." Some even found them convincing. (119K AIFF sound or 119K WAV sound)

"I don't know what to think, really. This was a good performance, I mean it was orchestrated and designed to be a good performance in front of the students," said one. Did he seem nervous about any particular questions? "No, he's a very good actor," the student said.

Female student

"OK, so he wasn't proven guilty, but he wasn't proven innocent either," said a female student. "He looked as though he'd been briefed quite a lot."

"I think he was very convincing. I had my doubts when I went in ... because he didn't give his account in the trial, but by and large I was very impressed with what he had to say, and that firmed my belief that he's innocent," another student said.

O.J. Walk

This was Simpson's final appearance for the trip, which was paid for by Britain's Granada Television. Despite Simpson's denial that he is considering purchasing property anywhere in Britain, reports abound that Simpson is considering moving here to escape constant media attention in the United States.

It was discovered Tuesday that Simpson also faces a substantial charge for back taxes in the United States. The Internal Revenue Service issued a notice of a federal tax lien on Simpson's Brentwood mansion last week for a 1994 income tax bill for more than $685,000. He was being tried for the double murder at the time.

And depositions in the wrongful death civil suit filed against Simpson by the parents of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman continued. Simpson's friend and attorney Robert Kardashian continued his deposition Tuesday in the trial. He was deposed for the first time May 3, at which time he repeatedly invoked his attorney-client privilege to avoid answering questions.

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