copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover
The sale included the judge’s damask bag and notes compiled by his wife

The government has banned the export of a book which was used by the judge in one of Britain’s most notorious trials.

DH Lawrence’s controversial novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, was at the centre of an obscenity trial in 1960.

The paperback copy includes sexually explicit passages marked up by judge Sir Laurence Byrne’s wife Lady Dorothy.

The government says the copy is “at risk of leaving the UK” if a buyer cannot be found to pay the £56,250 it fetched at auction last year.

Arts minister Michael Ellis said he hoped a buyer can be found in order to “keep this important part of our nation’s history in the UK”.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover was the last novel Lawrence wrote before his death.

It focuses on a passionate affair between an aristocratic woman and a gamekeeper.

It had been published in Italy and France in the 1920s but was not published in the UK until 1960 for fear of prosecution over its explicit content.

When it finally was the publishing house, Penguin Books, was put on trial for obscenity.

Karl Johnson in The Chatterley Affair
Karl Johnson played the judge in The Chatterley Affair

Before the trial, Lady Dorothy compiled a list of significant passages on the headed stationery of the Central Criminal Court, noting the page number and adding her own comments, such as “love making”, “coarse” and so on.

The trial caused a sensation when the publisher was found not guilty.

The case, which was seen as a test for the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, came to encapsulate the clash between the old establishment and the new wave of liberalisation in the 1960s.