Guardian which also published one of the offending
pictures showing the 2 naked children masked on a beach. Today's Telegraph also had a
similar article and published the picture of the peeing kid. The pictures are of course,
I have no idea what could inspire the Police to this
ludicrous action but it is does now raise a very worrying doubt. Have the police used the
same criteria/judgement when pursuing some of the highly advertised paedophile busts of
The Saatchi gallery has been raided by officers from Scotland Yard's
obscene publications unit and warned that they will return to seize pictures in its
current exhibition, I am a Camera, unless the offending images are removed before the
gallery opens its doors to the public again.
The Metropolitan police confirmed last night that officers had visited the gallery
twice this week after three complaints under anti-child pornography legislation and a
report was being forward to the crown prosecution service.
The exhibition features the work of a group of artists and photographers selected by
Charles Saatchi himself and taken from his personal collection of photographs and
paintings. It has been running for eight weeks and has been reviewed in most of the
broadsheet papers and magazines from the Tatler to the Telegraph, without any public
complaints to the gallery.
The police have also warned a London international fine art publisher, Edward
Booth-Clibborn, to remove from sale thousands of copies of his book I am a Camera, on
which the exhibition is based, by next Thursday or he will also face the threat of
prosecution. "The police told me that they want them 'all out' of the
bookstores," he said.
The images at the centre of the police action against the gallery involve two
photographs by Tierney Gearon, a former fashion photographer, in a series of 15
snapshot-style images that document her personal family life. They both depict her two
children, Emily and Michael, aged six and four, naked or partly naked while playing. In
one the two children are wearing theatrical masks while in the other her son is urinating
in the snow. The police have also voiced concerns about a small photograph by Nan Goldin
on page 50 of the 499-page book, which also features pictures by Tracey Emin and Andy
Inspector Brian Ward of Scotland Yard's obscene publications and internet unit first
visited the gallery "as a member of the public" to see the photographs on
display before he went to the gallery in St John's Wood, north London, on Thursday for a
second time with other officers to confront the curator. He told them he would return with
a warrant to seize the pictures if they were not removed before the gallery reopens to the
public next Thursday.
The Met would not confirm last night that it was acting after a complaint from a Sunday
newspaper but Insp Ward told the gallery's curator, Jenny Blythe, and Mr Booth-Clibborn
that he was acting after receiving complaints from the press and members of the public. A
Met spokeswoman said there had been three separate complaints but was not prepared to
discuss who had made them.
Within hours of the inspector's second visit, Tierney Gearon, the photographer in
question, was visited by two journalists at her home address initially claiming they were
from the Telegraph. They gained entry while she was out by claiming they had an
appointment. The News of the World last night denied that it was behind the complaint to
the police or had visited the artist's home.
Ms Blythe of Saatchis said the gallery had been shocked by the police's action and
vigorously denied that the photographs in question were in any way pornographic. "I
was so surprised I could not quite believe it," she said. "They are funny and
delightful. Tierney Gearon is totally devoted to her children. They are snapshots of her
children at play. They are not depraved in any way."
A leading lawyer on freedom of expression, Geoffrey Robertson, is believed to have
advised the gallery that what it faces amounts to censorship by police threat and that the
depiction of children without sexual overtones is not indecent.
The police are understood to have taken legal advice before raiding the gallery and are
acting under the 1978 Protection of Children Act, which makes it a criminal offence to
take an indecent photograph of a child. Police questioned the ITN newsreader Julia
Somerville under the act in 1995 over pictures she took of her seven-year-old daughter in
the bath. The CPS took no action.
Mr Booth-Clibborn's book is on sale in bookshops throughout Britain and also in
America, Japan and Germany. One of the controversial photographs features on the cover of
the British edition. He said that police suggested he cut out the pages that contained the
The raid is the first on an art gallery since the obscene publications squad seized
pictures by John Lennon and others in the late 1960s.