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 2000: July-Sept

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29th September   Judicial Extortion

The law enforcement agencies have found another outrageous toy with which to torment their unfortunate victims. They now are able to extort ludicrous sums of money from people whose only crime it to offend against the moral code of those who think they are better than the rest. There is no suggestion in the Telegraph report that the customers had reason for complaint, nor that the girls were treated badly, nor that the public was inconvenienced, nor that the taxman was unhappy.

A woman who ran one of Britain's most profitable brothels was ordered yesterday to hand over more than £2 million from a business that entertained up to 100 men a night. Josie Daly employed more than 50 women from Britain, Eastern Europe and the Far East in a six-day-a-week operation that earned her an estimated £1 million a year. Women from 18 to 30 worked behind the facade of a sauna business, while Daly lived in a seven-bedroom Victorian villa and travelled in a chauffeur-driven white Rolls-Royce.

Daly admitted three counts of controlling prostitution for gain. When officers closed her operation, which even advertised in the British Transport Police magazine, they found that she had 10 bank accounts. Daly, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, was fined £3,000, ordered to pay £50,000 costs and had £2 million in assets confiscated. Judge Barrington Black said no one disputed that the 500 men who visited her various premises each week had generated an income of £3 million during 1996 and 1997.

But the Crown accepted that 30 per cent of her business was "legitimate", which is why he reduced the amount to be confiscated by a third. He said: A woman can offer her body if she wants to. Prostitution as we all know, has been going on forever. What the law cannot accept is that others, be they men or women, should profit by such an act.

Police became suspicious of the four north London businesses because of the sheer number of customers, the court was told. Daly kept accounts and paid income tax and VAT on profits which were delivered to her home each day by receptionists.

28th September   You've Got to Hand it to Them

I heard today of the first Customs Seizure since the acceptance of new guidelines. The DVD concerned featured fisting and watersports. I guess Customs now won't feel totally unwanted and redundant as their guidelines prohibit such material. In the long run though I cannot really see the harm in this and it will surely be up to Customs to prove that harm before they can maintain their prohibition. The BBFC wording is far more sensible in that such material is banned if someone is being hurt in the production of it.

22nd September   More Restictions from Customs

Customs clearly have not been to keen to change their guidelines on consensual porn so it is not suprising to note that they have decided to be more proscriptive than the BBFC. The BBFC put out carefully and sensibly worded guidelines where prohibitions relate to harm of the participants. This is particularly important in the representation of the more fetish based material. Customs weigh in with an all encompassing shopping list of prohibition that may be used to arbitarily ban very mild material, eg mild spanking or bondage.

Anyway, here is a letter that they sent outlining their new guidelines

I can confirm that customs has now revised its criteria for assessment of obscene material. This follows a judgement by the court of appeal which led the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to publish new guidelines for its issue of R18 certificates. Customs will therefore no longer seize material depicting sexual activity between consenting adults which falls within the BBFC published guidelines. This will avoid conflict with The Human Rights Act, and existing European legislation and will sustain our policy of seeking to maintain common standards as accepted by the courts, and other enforcement agencies.

Sexual acts which are excluded from the BBFC criteria for R18 certification will continue to be considered obscene. This includes anal and vaginal fisting, urination, defaecation, sado masochism and bondage. We will also maintain controls on material involving children or animals, and also material depicting rape, excessive violence or animal cruelty.

18th September   Importing Good Sense

Many thanks to Shaun for uncovering some excellent news

I spoke this morning to Mr. Andrew Macnamara of Customs & Excise, (Tel: 020 7620 1313, he can be asked for by name) and he told me, that they were mirroring the BBFC guidelines and the policy had been announced last Thursday...

So, I rang the advice centre, and was informed "Nothing had changed"....

I therefore rang Dover, and was told by them to ring the advice centre again.... I therefore spoke to another gentleman. He told me that only videos identical to R18 versions would be allowed through.

I therefore rang Mr. Macnamara to clarify the matter. He said unequivocally: "No, we are going on content. If it doesn't breach the BBFC's R18 guidelines, it will be allowed into the country."

He said he would get in touch with the advice centre, and make sure that they were fully informed about the new policy.....

I asked if he could remove the "(pornography)" from the Customs   "information for travellers" page, on the www.hmce.gov.uk web site, and he said he would speak to the people who run the web site.

So, there we have it, from the horse's mouth. Porn can be imported, provided it doesn't breach BBFC R18 guidelines...wow!

17th September   To ITC that they Abide by the Law

Thanks to Peter Woods for reminding me that Monday is the last chance to have your say on the ITCs censorship guidelines

Last week in a press release that accompanied the publication of their new guidelines, the BBFC (finally) conceded that the majority of adults do not want adult material to be censored.

The ITC, who regulate all commercial television in the UK, are reviewing their programme code and have asked for responses to their proposals.

In the section of the code that deals with films, there is a section that dictates what can/cannot be show

  1. Where one exists, the BBFC video version should be shown, rather than the cinema version
  2. No "R18" version should be transmitted at any time.
  3. No version refused a BBFC certification should be transmitted at any time.

It seems to me that the ITC should relax all 3 of the above restrictions and replace them with these:

Provided the material is shown on an encrypted channel that operates on either a subscription or pay-per-view basis:

  1. Cinema versions of films may be shown after 10 pm
  2. "R18" type material (i.e. "hardcore" porn) may be shown but only on dedicated "adult" channels.
  3. Films that have been refused a BBFC certificate may be shown provided the broadcaster has presented a justification to the ITC beforehand. Note that the BBFC very rarely refuses a certificate nowadays. Most "banned" videos have not been resubmitted since the "video nasties" era in the 1980s. Those that have been are often passed uncut (e.g. "Texas Chain Saw Massacre)".

Send your response to the ITC now - the deadline is Monday 18th September. Send them to Marion Bowman at marion.bowman@itc.org.uk

17th September   Xoff

Adult X has pulled the plug on their analogue D2Mac service on HotBird. They stopped broadcasting without notice or respect for their customers. The action was  supposedly due to the relative expensive of an analogue transponder. Their digital service is continuing. Now given that they are not bankrupt and that the channel has never been made illegal, then it seems right that people can ask for their money back. If the dealers are not willing then maybe the credit card companies can be targeted.

14th September   Hardcore On Sale

The first hardcore R18's have been spotted in the shops. Moving Violations and Buck Adams' Centerfold have got there first. Perhaps a couple to remember for pub quizes of the future.

9th September   Computer Hooligans

From www.football365.co.uk

A reportedly sick new football hooliganism computer game could be in British shops in time for Christmas. Amsterdam-based company The Thirteenth Production claim they are close to releasing their controversial title, Hooligans: Storm Over Europe - after positive feedback from the industry at this week's giant ECTS computer fair in London.

The game, which challenges the player to assemble the continent's most violent football gang, is sure to stir up bad memories of this summer's trouble at Euro 2000 and the ugly scenes many blamed for wrecking England's bid to stage the 2006 World Cup. Representatives of both the Home Office and the BBFC, which also has jurisdiction over computer games, reacted with horror when we outlined the game's content.

That includes robbery, extortion and violence both inside and outside football grounds, as illustrated by the screen shots above. But amazingly, The Thirteenth Production director Jason Garber insisted to Football365: I don't think it will encourage people to become football hooligans. People can judge for themselves, can't they? There are loads of violent games and films, so it's not a problem with just this one game. Personally, I don't think it's a problem for this game or even for the industry. I think violence is an educational and political issue, not a problem about computer games. I don't think it's in poor taste. It's not like it's a simulation of being a hooligan or a day in the life of a hooligan. We got bored of games where you have to fight ogres and trolls and just thought it would be a nice, topical idea. And what about all the games about the Second World War? Aren't they offensive to people whose relatives were killed in the war?"

However, the BBFC is likely to take a dim view of those explanations, with a spokeswoman telling 365: We would have to look very carefully at anything encouraging such antisocial behaviour. A Home Office spokesman also warned: We condemn anything that seeks to glorify hooliganism. We're working very hard to stamp it out and any firm or individual which encourages it is acting wholly irresponsibly.

9th September   Natural Born Warners

Thanks to Peter for pointing out that the BBFC have recently passed a video trailer for Natural Born Killers.Warner Brothers submitted the trailer so they are presumably about to release the video.  The BBFC passed the video without cuts (although it was probably the cut US R rated version that was submitted) but Warner Brothers withheld the release due to sensitivities after the Dunblane killings.

5th September   Christian Institute of Nutters

A shameful bunch of religious nutters known as the Christian Institute have been trying to stop an erotic fair from taking place in Newcastle. They took it all the way to Judicial Review but have been thankfully defeated in the High Court.

It is only right that attempts at censorship add to the success of the event been harangued, so I can but urge anyone in the Newcastle area to support the event this weekend at the Telewest Arena

3rd September   Customary Thugishness

I received the following submission on 29th August. The reader prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. As an even more unjust corollary to described actions, I have heard that the victims landlord was somehow informed of Customs actions and eviction threatens. The practise of compounding state punishments via pressure on landlords and employers seems to crop up alarmingly often, it seems very dodgy to me.

Approx 3 weeks ago, Customs at Manchester airport intercepted a single magazine which I had ordered from the United States. This magazine is *not*  pornographic and was easily available in the U.K. when it was originally released approximately 10 years ago. Customs took objection to the content  which they claim is "obscene" (including written word material i.e. not just  the images) and as a result raided my home at 7am on a Sunday morning.

After approximately six hours of sifting through my personal possessions,  six customs officers took away 300 or so items including my PC, my mobile phone(!), my camera, hundreds of magazines and books (99% purchased in the  UK) and DVDs. Since then I have been arrested, questioned by two customs officers and then held in a cell all day while my second flat was raided  (they found nothing of course as this was two weeks after the initial raid). I am now on bail.

My solicitor tells me that it is likely that when I am interviewed again (in October) they intend to charge me with (1) importation of obscene material (the magazine) and (2) possession of obscene material (whatever they decide is obscene that I had in my house i.e. porn DVDs such as Sex, Deep Throat, etc). Despite the fact that most of these were bought from U.K. dealers (hence no "importation" charge) and I could buy them again tomorrow from London sex shops or via mail order, HMC&E still believe they are illegal and just owning them is an offence punishable by a jail sentence. My solicitor has tried to reassure me that I shouldn't worry as I will probably only get "two months or so" in prison and could be out in a month...some reassurance! Of course, the fact that I am self-employed and will very likely go bankrupt as a result of having to defend myself and of going to prison seems immaterial to everyone but me.

Anyway, as you can see, the UK customs are as far from relaxing their "rules".

 

29th August   Between a Rock and a Soft Place

I have little sympathy for rip-off merchants selling softcore with the pretence of it being harder...it gives the black market a bad name.

York trading standards officers have accused Nick Griffin, owner of a sex shop in the city, of selling goods under a false description because he allegedly labelled the videos "hardcore" when they are actually 1970s softcore sex comedies available in many mainstream video rental stores.

Magistrates are expected to have to watch the films - which also include Talk Naughty To Me, Alice Good body and Out for Blood - to establish whether they are erotic enough to justify their price tags

Griffin, who denies the charges, says he is the victim of a campaign to close down his business. On the one hand they say I'm running a sex shop without a licence, but on the other hand they say the goods aren't sexy enough, he said yesterday.

A spokesman for York City Council's trading standards department said the inquiry was launched following complaints from the public. "The issue is that he was asking a premium price for something that is not how it was described," he said.

Mr Griffin denies a total of 15 charges brought against him and his printing company. They include stocking videos without a BBBFC certificate and operating a sex establishment without a licence. The case has been adjourned until November. (Notice the lack of obscenity charges)

26th August   Customs Relaxation

I received a message from a reader who today had received a package of two hardcore videos. It had been intercepted by customs, inspected resealed and sent on without any hassle. I hope that Customs are finally coming to their senses and that they will officially publish their current policies (as demanded by human rights legislation).

We need an official statement of policy because we are still being censored by retailers who refuse to sell to the UK because they believe we are a repressive country who still bans porn. See DVDZone2 story.

26th August   5 Hardcore Predictions

Adam Perry, a senior executive at Channel 5, dubbed "Channel Filth" by the Daily Mails, predicts that hardcore pornography will soon be available on British screens. Speaking at the annual Edinburgh Television Festival, Perry claimed that the UK were in an illogical and indefensible situation, lagging behind Europe in what we can see on subscription services. He predicted that hardcore pornography would be available on British television by 2003, At the moment, the BBFC guidelines on R18 videos allow scenes of penetration. Ultimately, in 2-3 years time, this will lead to hardcore pornography on specialist subscription services on British TV. It already happens in Europe, it is encrypted, using PIN protection, so that kids can't see it.   Perry will unvail a Channel 5 poll of sexual attitudes, which found 59 per cent of people in the UK think that laws on sexually explicit material should be the same throughout the EU.

13th August   Blue's Off

The ITC has issued a notice revoking the licence of satellite channel, Babylon Blue,   with immediate effect. The revocation notice follows non-payment of a £10,000 financial penalty imposed by the Commission on the channel in March this year for showing material that was supposedly too strong for an unencrypted late night broadcast. ie The Black Tie Affair, shown on 15 November 1999.

Given that hardly any one watches this channel, maybe the ITC should consider that Babylon Blue are simply unable to afford such an extreme fine, after all how many people were actually harmed by such a coy late night broadcast.

More human rights abuses from the ITC then, restriction of our freedom of expression that is clearly out of proportion to the actual harm done. How does the ITC justify their actions in this case ?

7th August   Porn's Off

Thanks to Peter

The Lux cinema in London has cancelled a planned porn festival, which would have included porn classics such as Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones and Debbie Does Dallas. Here's what I just found on their web site:

Following a complaint from a local Liberal Democrat councillor and advice from Hackney Council the Lux Cinema has regretfully decided to cancel Porno Chic: A Festival Of Sex + Style. After careful scrutiny the Lux Cinema has to concede that its current license does not cover the materials due to be shown. The festival was organised as a serious investigation of the history and social significance of the erotic image and it was in no way intended to cause offence to any member of the community. This was a one-off festival among many thematic seasons programmed by the Lux during the course of the year. Porno Chic was sponsored by Hot Rod Productions, Sh!, World of Wonder and Desire whom we thank for their support. Festival co- programmer Helen de Witt said We are very sad that we have been instructed to pull this season, public appreciation was high, press attention was positive and ticket sales were good with over 50% advance bookings by women this proves that the desire for erotic material extends beyond its traditionally male audience. The Lux welcome the BBFC's new guidelines for R18 and as a club cinema the Lux hopes to launch a similar festival with the approval of all the relevant authorities in the near future. All advance bookings will be refunded accordingly.

 

29th July   Miscarriage of Justice

Another unfortunate victim of the crap state of British obscenity law. David Graham of Carlisle has been jailed for 6 months after being found guilty of copying porn videos. Yet again the victim was involved in the UK distribution side of an Amsterdam based mail order company.

(In light of the new acceeptance that adult consexual hardcore is no longer considered obscene then the only accusations of obscenity must be rightly reserved for the police, proscecutors and judge who brought these corrupt charges).

28th July   Brighton Prudes

Brighton & Hove council have just extended the licence for Hove's table dancing club, Pussy Cats. They have ludicrously made the licence conditional on the girls keeping their g-strings on. What a stuffy bunch of prudes.

25th July   R18 Consultation

The Home Office have posted their consultation paper on the enforcement of R18 videos: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/consult/r18video.pdf replies are required by the end of October. They have also published a consultative paper on more general sexual offences with a reply by date of next March.

The overall tone of the paper is to propose rather extreme sentences for a range of offences ranging from serious concerns to total nonsense. The Home Office have focused their consultation into the following four options:

  1. Tightening up the R18 guidelines to allow the BBFC to consider that children will almost certainly sometimes be watching them. It is extremely vaguely worded but it appears to me to be a device  leave the door open for a return to a total ban on explicit sex.
  2. Creation of new offences for showing R18s to children and for not taking sufficent care to preventing children watching them
  3. Extreme penalties for selling R18s by mail order (This seems a totally unneccessary piece of control freakery that could be easily avoided by a new postal service to provide age confirmation prior to receiving ones parcels). Suggested fines of of £20,000 seem typically nasty for merely posting an acceptable video through the post to an adult.
  4. Sacking of the current Video Appeals Committee (VAC) and replacing it with a Government appointed one. This is Straw at his vindictive nastiness. The fact that the VAC's opinion was confirmed in the High Courts suggests to me that they got the answer right under law. No reason to sack them just because they came to a divergent opinion from a corrupt Home Secretary.
21st July   Customary Corruption

Customs are supposed to be an enforcement agency of British law but they seem to think they are somehow above the law. When they attain this level of arrogance it is only a small step before they are  specifying the law on a per case basis (where a bit of ready cash helps sway that interpretation). The Home Office should step in urgently and ensure that Customs aren't allowed to corrupt the law for their own dubious purposes.

Many thanks to Shaun Hollingworth for making inquiries into this unbelievable situation:

After reading the latest report on the Melon Farmer's censorship site which today reported that HM Custom's and Excise currently have no plans to relax their (frankly ridiculous) obsession with import restrictions on consensual adult videos, I decided to enquire into the matter for myself.

I therefore rang the appropriate customs department on (020) 7620 1313 [Ask for Paul Field's department]

Firstly I spoke to Mr. Hussain Chowdery, who deals with pornography, at Customs. He said they would continue to seize all pornography which
entered the country, and the position had not changed at all. As far as they were concerned the material was still being found to be obscene, by the magistrate's courts in condemnation hearings.

I told him that they had a duty to justify any restriction imposed upon the freedom of expression of the British people. I said he understood my argument but that it was clearly a matter for the Home Office to decide, and things would not change until the home office told them to change.

On to Birol at the Home Office. (020 3273 3787)

He said that it was a matter for Customs, but they HAD agreed to review the guidelines..... They had attended various meetings where such policy was decided, he said. He said that customs could not restrict the personal importation (for personal use) of any material which is legal to trade in, within the country, even if such trade was in restricted conditions. He did hint that customs may be just being careful about what they say... But it certainly WAS a matter for them, and not a matter for the Home Office....... He told me I was the third to complain about this since Tuesday.....

OK then. This time back to Customs, and a word with Andrew Macnamara (SP) at Customs and Excise. This Scottish chap was adamant that the position of Customs was correct. "We are seizing material which has been found to be obscene by the courts" he said. "Magistrate's courts" I reminded him. "Where they tend to be more conservative with a small 'c' and rubber stamp the decisions of customs. We have this circular and risible regime where magistrates find material obscene because customs say it is, and customs use that as an excuse to maintain prohibition." Mr Macnamara then reminded me: "You can always test it in court". "Wonderful" I replied. "So I have to potentially break the law to test it do I ?"

I then got EXTREMELY angry and said to him "Well I hope you are happy with your part in what clearly is a blatant HUMAN RIGHTS abuse. You are required to define exactly WHAT is restricted and WHY it is restricted. It has to be more than necessary, and strictly justified..

He said "Yes, we seize material which is found obscene by the courts..." I asked how much of the material could *possibly* be obscene, if it was now to be classified for sale in the country. He said that was a matter for the BBFC, and nothing to do with customs, who simply went on the view of the magistrates court. (Who of course simply go on the view of Customs officers....)

I told him "I should *not* have to plead with you for my freedom. YOU must tell me WHY it needs to be taken away from me." I said I was sick of this country, and for two pins I would move to Spain where people have something called freedom of expression but my wife didn't want to go and live there...... So I would have to choose between my marriage and my freedom.

He went very quiet, when I realised I was so offended by the whole situation that I really was prepared to leave my country because of it...... All he could say, was that it was my right to challenge them in the courts... But of course I would have to potentially break the law first....

This is why it is a clear HUMAN RIGHTS abuse. Human rights law, implies that laws restricting freedom of expression should be "clear enough so the ordinary person knows what the law is...... and of course why it is.... "

That certainly doesn't mean that such a person has to possibly break the law, (as they imply) before he/she can be sure what the law is.. It should be therefore be defined unequivocally using defined terms.

It really is a matter of principle. People in any kind of free society really should have restrictions on them fully justified, and those restrictions clearly defined. One should not have to break the law, to test it. That is the approach of autocrats, despots and power mongers everywhere.

If the authorities don't seem to know either what the law is, and who is responsible for it, by playing pass the buck and ping pong, how on earth can the ordinary citizen know ? That they admit that it is clearly open to challenge on various grounds means that it really isn't clear at all. A human rights violation then. And the United Nations have declared it so. I really hope the authorities in this country are proud of that. I know I'm not.

Shaun.

20th July   United Nations Condemns UK Censorship Law

A UN report has condemned the UK's human rights record ands has called for sweeping reforms to our censorship laws. It calls for the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and sweeping channges to the Official Secrets Act, the Freedom of Information Bill, and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill. It also wants a reform of the defamation and obscenity laws.

20th July    HM Customs & Thieves

Thanks Napalm Baby for the following info. It makes no real sense at all under the current law as customs are only empowered to seize obscene material and the certification of porn clearly shows that it is not regarded as obscene. Similarly with the mail argument. There is nothing in law that says that porn can't be sent, only obscene materials. One very worrying interpretation of this blatant law breaking by Customs is that it is a part of the 'tightening up' of the pornography laws to be announced next week. Perhaps they intend to change the law.

I have spoke with Home Office , Mount Pleasant yet again and the Customs headquarters in London. All to no avail IE: THEY WILL CONTINUE TO SEIZE ADULT DVDs

There reasons are as follows :

  • It clearly states no material available by mail order , also its illegal to send pornographic material through the post in the UK
  • Secondly it has not got a R18 certificate from the BBFC even though it contains the same contents available in licensed sex shops.
  • Thirdly its the home office that has to change the rules not the BBFC , they have the final say so in whether its legal to purchase adult DVDs online and they say its a clear NO !!
  • Fourth it can easily be obtained by minors using friends credit cards and get into the wrong hands.
19th July   Important Importation Information

Several people have asked whether the BBFC porn relaxation is reflected by a change to customs attitude.

Today I received report from Jay stating that Customs had opened 2 hardcore DVDs from the USA and let them through. This occurred on July 18th at Mount Pleasant.

15th July   Blair Tells Straw to Bugger Off

Spotted in Fridays Independent (and paraphrased)

Home Office proposals to liberalise the sexual offences laws relating to gays are being blocked by Downing Street because of fears of a backlash by "Middle Britain". Blair is concerned that controversial plans to scrap the law that outlaws homosexual "cruising", group sex and kissing in public could be damaging to Labour in the run-up to the general election.

JackBoots Straw is known to support changing the law as part of a wider reform of the country's outdated sexual offences legislation, but has been told by Blair to shelve the plans that concern gay sex.  The Home Office will now publish proposals to toughen up and reform laws concerning issues such as child abuse and rape but will now spout bollox and say that the issue of gay sex needs further consultation.

A year long review had been expected to recommend the scrapping of those sex laws discriminating against homosexuals. Gay rights campaigners are now expected to challenge the law in the European Court of Human Rights.

The most contentious issue is the offence of gross indecency, which carries a maximum 5 year sentence.  The law, which dates back to 1885, makes it illegal for adult males to have any form of sexual relationship where there are more than two people present. The other reform expected to be shelved relates to the offence of soliciting, under which a man can be jailed for 2 years for asking another man for sex while in a public place.

Blair shows a truely repugnant side to his control freakery. Maintaining such descriminatory crap law merely to pander to few blue rinsed voters surely places Blair among the lowest of the low. It is also interesting to note that all gay male pornography is therefore implicitly illegal as it necessarily requires more than two people to be present during prodcution.

15th July   The Freedom to Bare Yourself

From the Sunday Mirror

A man fighting for the right to be nude in public vowed yesterday that until it is legalised he'll strip off permanently.  Vincent Bethell, 28, made the pledge after losing an appeal against a £75 fine for wandering naked in the centre of Birmingham.

Brian Dean, defending, told the city's Crown Court: My client says it doesn't really matter a great deal as on August 13 he will be taking his clothes off permanently until nakedness is legalised.

Prosecutor David Pearson said: A large number of people were upset by what they saw. Some were outraged. An Asian gent-leman was said by police to be going berserk. Bethell, from Coventry, said he plans to strip off outside New Scotland Yard, London, today.

The bearded, jobless former art student and founder of The Freedom to be Yourself group, has been arrested for similar stunts up to 15 times. He said: People can see I'm a rational, lucid man.

15th July   Amore No More

Subscribers of hardcore porn channel Amore TV at 13 degrees East look set to be offered subscriptions to a separate adult station following the station's abrupt end of transmissions. Amore TV's owner, European Entertainment Television, said the channel has been taken over by Ultra Blue, a hardcore porn station that's scheduled to launch on July 15. EETV said that it will offer former Amore subscribers the chance to view Ultra Blue instead. The new channel will encrypt its digital transmissions in both Irdeto and Viaccess.

It looks like the ever-postponing Ultra Blue will not make the July start-up anyway so it is not really much of an offer.

7th July   Updated Contempt of Court

Sharon Thomas has been sentenced to 3 months in jail. A truely contemptible decision and a gross abuse of human rights.

I have received the following request for moral support for Sharon

Perhaps you'd like to put this info out to your readership who can then show signs of support by way of sending cards, letters etc.  I myself will be sending a card.

Sharon Thomas
HM Prison Eastwood Park
Falfield Wotton-Under-Edge
Gloucestershire
GL12 8DB

6th July   A Decent Decision

Whilst Sharon Thomas is facing sentence tomorrow it is timely to hear that another obscenity trial has returned a not guilty verdict.

I recently reported that Mark Smith had been accused of selling films copied from legally available (ie not proscribed) hardcore satellite channels. The case came to court this week at Isleworth Crown Court and Mark was found not guilty by a jury that included three middle aged women.

And in Mark's words: It's a great victory for all of us who are fed up to the back teeth with being bullied by governments who simply do not feel comfortable with porn but just cant be honest about it. In the mean time I would like to nominate the jury in the case of Mark Smith V. The London Borough of Hillingdon to your Hall of Fame. They showed great common sense in the face of quite a lot of double-dutch thrown up by prosecution counsel. I would like to thank them.

6th July   Obscenity Law

On the eve of Sharon Thomas' sentencing I received the following submission ably questioning the state of the UK's shameful obscenity law.

Similar items are easily available to UK citizens from many companies world wide who's adverts appear in British top shelf magazines.The Judge may not know, with respect, that they are similar to legally available material in licensed sex shops in the UK. One can choose to view such material on late night channels, cable+ and satellite TV.

In a speech by Lord Bingham, valid points mentioned were the violation of human rights and clarity of what is or what is not prescribed by British obscenity laws. It appears that basic human rights of freedom of expression in a democratic society, have been restricted at a time when Home Office direction is that the rights and principles discussed at the European Convention on Human Rights are being established and should apply now, before October 2nd when the principles are due to be applied. Surely the court must consider, Were Sharon's rights and the customer's rights of freedom of expression violated in this case? Harm has to be in evidence, and there is absolutely none. The catalogues were sent only to people who requested them.

Also important is the question; where are the clear directives to guide Sharon in what she could consider permissible to individual consenting adults? The rules concerning these items are not sufficiently clear and accessible. Customs and Excise and the BBFC cannot give clear directives, so how is Sharon to know?

5th July   An Obscene Decision

Just as the Home Office is considering how far to go in making hardcore legal there  seems to be an obscene   miscarriage of justice in the offing.

A housewife is facing a jail sentence after being found guilty of running the Welsh end of an international porn operation from her garden shed. Sharon Thomas from St Clear's in Carmarthenshire, was told by a judge at Swansea Crown Court to her to put her affairs in order as he intended to send her to prison.

Thomas, 41, helped run an international pornography catalogue service from her garden shed in Maes y Bryn, the jury had been told. From there she sent hundreds of sex catalogues across Britain. The court heard that an Amsterdam-based pornography supplier called Your Choice used Thomas's address to conceal the source of the material which was being sent, said  Trefor Davies, prosecuting. Catalogues highlighting illegal porn CDs and videos were distributed to tens of thousands of customers over a five-year period, he said. Thomas told the court she believed that catalogues containing material entitled Sex Encounters of the Lurid Kind were legal in Britain. She also said she did not find images depicting women carrying out sex acts on men obscene.

Prosecutor Trefor Davies told Thomas that she had put personal gain before her conscience and was well aware of what she was doing. But Thomas said the catalogues she sent out were no more obscene than a lot of top-shelf material. I do not think that an ordinary person would regard that as obscene, she told the court. Thomas - who denied one charge of conspiring to publish obscene articles - said she agreed to help businessman David Waterfield run the British end of the operation in 1994. The court heard that Mr Waterfield, also of St Clear's, had set up Your Choice in Holland with his wife. Thomas said that over the five years she worked in the operation she had earned no more than a total of £15,000. But she admitted that most of the money was paid in cash and had never been declared. Thomas also dismissed suggestions she had always been aware that catalogues containing words such as hard core might be illegal. I have questioned time and time again about words like hard core and the company always assured me that everything was above board.

 

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