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 2001: Jan-March

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18th March   Trading SubStandards in Harrow

Thanks to Phil for spotting some news I'd missed

In September 2000, W H Smith Trading Limited were fined £5,000 by Harrow Magistrates Court and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,000 to the London Borough of Harrow Trading Standards Service.

In a case believed to be the first of its kind, W H Smith's were found guilty following a trial for an offence under Section 9 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 of supplying an unclassified computer game which contained scenes of gross violence to humans from its St Anns Centre store in Harrow.

The Court heard that the offence arose on 2nd June 1999 following a test purchase of a computer magazine entitled "PC Zone". The magazine contained a cover mounted CD Rom which itself contained a demonstration version of a game entitled Kingpin. The disc and magazine bore no age warnings and the game was not classified by the BBFC as is required by the Video Recordings Act 1984 where any video game contains scenes of gross violence to humans or animals.

The Magistrates were shown video excerpts from the game which depicted ultra realistic computer generated human characters which were capable of talking to the game player. These characters were systematically clubbed, shot, dismembered and left bleeding or dead as the game progressed.

W H Smith blamed the publishers of the magazine and gave evidence that in their opinion it was impractical for them to check all the magazines on display on their shelves and that the company relied on the goodwill and reputation of the publishers to ensure that the games supplied on cover disks were legal. During the trial the Magistrates also heard evidence from a representative of the publishing company who stated that she had checked the video game before distribution but did not consider that it contained excessive violence.

In passing sentence the Magistrates stated that the game did contain scenes of gross violence towards humans and that W H Smith Trading Ltd had not taken any steps to ensure that games of this nature were classified before being offered for supply.

John Taylor, Director of Trading Standards for the London Boroughs of Brent and Harrow stated after the case, This prosecution is unique as it is the first time that Magistrates have had to rule on whether computer generated images in games were sufficiently lifelike to be classed as human and therefore subject to the restrictions on violence under the Video Recordings Act 1984. It is also the first time that Trading Standards have taken action on cover mounted disks supplied with computer magazines. I am particularly concerned about the violence in this game as it was available without age restriction with a magazine priced at £2.99 and therefore well within the financial reach of children.

WHSmith has now, in a characteristically brave stance, demanded that all magazine CD covermounts be ELSPA-rated. No exceptions.

 

18th March   Shameful Ayr

From the Ayrshire Post

The recent application for a sex shop license was defeated by just one vote at the special meeting of South Ayrshire Council's licensing committee on Friday. Throughout the six-hour hearing objectors spoke of their outrage at the proposed sex shop and claimed that it would have a corruptive influence on the community.

The solicitor acting for the owner of Sexextra  explained that items for sale in the planned shop posed no threat. He said: It's a kind of Anne Summers situation with something like 10 per cent of the planned articles for sale requiring a licence. Marital aides, sex toys, videos and magazines would be kept at the back of the shop out of sight. The material in the shop in my opinion is not pornographic but erotic to be used by couples in the privacy of their own homes to express their love for each other.

Objectors were guaranteed anonymity so as to hide their shame when they turned up at the meeting held in Ayr's Citadel. One woman told the committee how her son became addicted to pornography and warned that it could happen to others. An ex-social worker also claimed that despite age restrictions it would be impossible to stop pornography falling into the hands of children. The majority of objectors claimed that the shop would damage Ayr's image as a family resort and attract the wrong kind of visitors to the town.

Another woman added: This is not the kind of reputation we want when we are trying to attract tourists. This is supposed to be a family resort town. If this is the only licensed sex shop in the west of Scotland then I would be concerned about the kind of people who may travel to Ayr to purchase items that they can't get anywhere else.

A number of church representatives turned up to plead with the committee not to grant a licence and the majority of objectors spoke of their strong Christian belief and anti-pornography stance.

Following a brief adjournment, shameful Councillors Alan Murray, Gordon McKenzie and Ian Fitsimmons voted to reject the application. A move by committee convener Councillor Douglas Campbell and Councillor David Duncan to approve the licence was outvoted.

The shop owner, Mrs McCracken, has confirmed that she plans to appeal the decision.

 

18th March   Clear Photos

The photographer Tierney Gearon and the Saatchi Gallery will not be facing prosecution for exhibiting pictures of nude children. The Crown Prosecution Service decided that: After carefully reviewing the evidence submitted by the Metropolitan police, the CPS has advised that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction under the Protection of Children Act 1978. In reaching this decision, the CPS considered whether the photographs in question were indecent and the likely defence of the gallery, ie whether they had a legitimate reason for showing them.

It is a humiliating defeat for both the police and the News of the World newspaper, which demanded the closure of the display.

Jenny Blyth, the curator, said the gallery was delighted by the decision: We are absolutely thrilled. It has been a very worrying time ... There has been fantastic support from the press and the public.

Gearon, whose pictures of her nude children feature in the exhibition, said she was relieved. It's such great news. It has been an overwhelming week. These are my children. I am a mother first and then I am an artist. It is not something I intended to happen. They have polluted my pictures. There are now a lot of people who are disturbed by my photos, which is unfortunate because they were just images that people enjoyed in an art gallery.

The Metropolitan police also said they would take no further action against the publisher Edward Booth-Clibborn, who had been told to remove from British bookshops thousands of copies of I Am a Camera, which contains pictures from Charles Saatchi's collection and on which the exhibition is based.

 

14th March   Healy a Target for Police Raiders?

Good to see the Saatchi Gallery continuing with it's controversial photography exhibition. The police have taken another bettering from the press this week as most of the disputed pictures have now been published in the press.

A further development is the opening of another exhibition featuring naked children. This time it is being held in the House of Commons and one of the naked works is by Dennis Healy.

Andreas Whittam Smith has waded into the argument speaking in support of the police. An interview was today published in the Daily Mail. (Thanks to Phil for the transcription).

(The buzz I have picked up from office chat is that people are being made to feel scared that perfectly innocent interaction with young kids could randomly be construed as one of the most heinous crimes in the modern age. Naked kids on the beach or in Boots developing labs could easily get innocent people caught up in a lynch mob justice system dominated by the tabloids, vigilantes & heavy handed police).

 

12th March   Police Censorship

From Saturday's 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, totally innocent.

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 recent months?

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 Warhol.

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 photographs.

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.

 

12th March   Human Rights Abuse in Ayr

Spotted on Usenet.

Thought I would keep all you highly fascinated folks out there up to date on the attempts by a local woman in Ayr to open a licensed sex shop. The local council, South Ayrshire, has had a wad of complaints from the usual right-wing bigots, church groups and organised complainers, though ironically neighbouring shopkeepers and publicans are sure that the shop would be good for their business.

What really made me laugh, besides predictable outbursts by Tory rent-a-quote Phil Gallie about paedophiles and protecting the vulnerable, were the comments by the headmaster of Kyle Academy. He is objecting to the licence application on the grounds that the kids could get their hands on sex toys and embarrassing playground incidents could ensue. Having attended this school some 15 years ago or so, I can assure him that in those days we had no problem obtaining porn, usually from various fathers' private stashes!

It really is pathetic, even the local Labour MP Sandra Osbourne, while not objecting, voiced her disapproval of the kind of material that could be sold in the shop. She said it was likely to be degrading to women. Has she ever heard of Ann Summers? In suburban homes across Britain and on many major shopping streets too. Of course what she refers to is porn. The ironic thing is that it is not certain the woman will be selling R18 videos or mags for example (though she may). What I consider more important is protecting women from the nasty "erotic" lingerie pictured in our local paper as being stocked on the shelves in preparation!

The real issue of course is freedom - that the freedom of this woman to open a shop that the vast majority of local people and businesses don't give two hoots about is still under threat from the censorious wishes of a tiny, unrepresentative minority.

(It is about time someone challenged the law requiring sex shop licenses on the grounds that it enables a local councillor on a whim  to effectively censor material without the mandatory justification and proof of harm required by law. The corrupt use of the sex shop law by local councils is exactly why human rights have been enshrined in law in the first place. One sex shop for the whole of Scotland (Leith Walk, Edinburgh) is surely proof of a total failure of the crap sex shop laws).

 

12th March   National Viewers, Listeners and Media Watchers

The National Views & Listeners Association, infamously founded by Mary Whitehouse is to be relaunched with the new name; Mediawatch-UK.

According to their spokesman: It is a result of our organisation examining our core values and activities and assessing if they are still a relevant and worthwhile contribution to society, We have concluded that these issues are worth contributing to and we have sought to find a new wavelength on which to communicate to people about them.

One of their first supposedly "worthwhile" idea is for a new law of bringing broadcasting into disrepute for companies who flout guidelines.

 

4th March   Thus Sayeth the Censor

From The Register I have made an enquiry as to which ones.

Demon Internet has taken a stand against child pornography stating will remove known paedophile newsgroups from its servers.  It claims it is to take a more "proactive role" in the removal of child pornography and will remove known paedophile newsgroups (30 in the first instance) from its servers.

It will also work with organisations across the industry to identify other measures to abolish paedophile content. And it's called upon the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) - which monitors illegal content on the Net - to redouble its efforts in highlighting paedophilic material so that it can take action.

However, Demon said it would not seek out child pornography itself since it does not want to be seen as a censor. While it is happy to act on advice, it does not want to act as "judge and jury". This stand is significant since it maintains the premise that ISPs are merely a conduit - rather than publisher - of content. However, the announcement by Thus - which owns Demon - was unexpected and has caught industry groups by surprise. For until now Demon has been known for its stand on freedom of expression and the non-censorship of the Internet.

Last year the Observer published an investigation into the ISP in which Demon came under fire for allegedly not doing enough to prevent child pornography from appearing in newsgroups and on its news servers.  In a story entitled "Exposed: where child porn lurks on the Net", the newspaper claimed that Demon's bias towards "an uncensored Internet" was at the expense of removing child pornography from the Web.

Following the publication of the story David Kerr, the then CE of the IWF, wrote to the newspaper. He said: Shutting down newsgroups would not do much to protect the children whose pictures are already on the Net. What if the UK industry had accepted the original position of shutting down newsgroups nominated by the police? Might we not have had an article today reflecting on the damage to freedom of speech and the threat to democracy of a situation where the state could dictate what is available on the Internet, irrespective of whether it is legal or not?

Demon denies it has made a policy U-turn. Instead, it claims it's just the next logical step in the process to help us abolish illegal paedophile content from the Internet. It claims it has always removed articles containing paedophilic content from its servers when it has been notified by the IWF. But that doesn't explain why it has changed tack - why it has altered what many believe to be a fundamental plank of Demon's make-up. That reason, it seems, lies with Thus. While it was fine for Demon, as a private company, to take an ideological stance on such issues as censorship on the Net, now it is part of a corporate it has been forced to ditch its T-shirt and fatigues in favour of a shirt and tie.

In other words, Thus cannot afford to have one of its companies championing such causes - especially when it involves such emotive subjects as child pornography.

 

1st March   Buffy, Bollox & the BSC

Cult show Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been rapped by the worthless BSC for being too sexually explicit for its early evening BBC slot. Viewers objected to seeing sex and violence in an episode about the schoolgirl vampire killer, who uses martial arts to defend herself, broadcast at 6.45pm in October last year.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) ruled: In relation to the sex scene, it considered that it had exceeded acceptable boundaries for broadcast at a time when young children could be watching.

The BBC said the show, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, was shown early in the evening on BBC Two to appeal to a teenage audience. In a statement to the commission, it added: There was a sexual aspect to scenes in this episode but, in all these sequences, sexual activity was implied rather than depicted and more comic than erotic.

Complaints over swearing and offensive language used during the episode were not upheld. But the BSC did criticise another BBC programme, the internet company drama series, Attachments, after viewers complained of bad language, nudity and drug abuse.

The first episode opened with a sex scene between two main characters straight after the 9pm watershed. The BSC said the episode went "beyond the acceptable boundaries" for the time of transmission.

But the BBC argued that the scene was no more explicit than was necessary to establish the atmosphere of personal pressure in the firm. The episode, broadcast in September last year, showed a computer programmer hard at work with his HTML - until viewers realised he was completely naked. He then got up to make a call on his mobile phone while skateboarding - still naked - across the room. He called his boss, who was otherwise occupied in bed.

A total of 20 viewers complained that some scenes were offensive and unnecessary. The BBC did concede that it went too far with explicit scenes in an episode about a cyber-squatter invading a website. But it also said that the strong language used was an accurate reflection of the commercial environment, and scenes of drug use were supposed to show its instability.

 

1st March   Fighting Press Talk

A few press responses regarding the recent BBFC decisions on Baise-Moi & Amores Perros

The Guardian:

The controversial Oscar-nominated film, Amores Perros, has been passed without cuts by the censor despite protests from the RSPCA which claims it will glamorise dog fighting. The film, by first-time director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, has become a cause célèbre since it cleared the board at Critics' Week in Cannes. Fears were raised that it would never be shown here because of a 21-second scene in which a rottweiler and a pit bull terrier simulate a fight to the death in a Mexico City gambling den.

British distributors were wary because of the strict provisions of the obscure Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937, which outlaws goading of animals for the camera, despite protests that it would be a national embarrassment if a film which has won more than 20 international prizes was not shown here. However, after prolonged examination of the film, and with pressure building from such distinguished directors as Stephen Frears to have the law changed, the BBFC has ruled that the scene does not break the law.

But the RSPCA said that it was extremely concerned and disappointed by the ruling, which it said could contribute to the glamorisation of a horrifically cruel underground activity we spend a large part of our resources trying to combat. Only this week four men have been jailed because of our investigations.

Chief inspector Mike Butcher, who has led special operations against dog fighters for 15 years, viewed the film, and although he conceded that the fight scene was not used for gratuitous shock value, it was just too realistic for my liking, which raises the question of whether there was cruelty involved.

The BBFC, in its judgment, said it was happy no animals were hurt or abused during the filming. This has not satisfied the RSPCA, however, whose spokesman insisted that the animals must have been goaded to fury in order to fight.

Gonzalez Inarritu claims that he went to extreme lengths to make sure no animals were harmed, even sacking one handler who he felt was willing to cut corners. I lost so much sleep over it. We used plastic muzzles on the dogs. They just did what came naturally, they played. The camera lies, we made it more dramatic than it was."

 

The Scotsman

The debate over the rising level of sex and violence in the media will be fuelled by the launch of two films expected to cause outrage among animal welfare and women's groups when they hit screens in March. The French film Baise-moi, which translates as Rape Me, and Mexican film Amores Perros, which contains scenes of dog-fighting, have both been passed by the BBFC as Certificate 18 after only a small cut was made to one of the films.

Baise-moi contains scenes of sex and violence as it follows the story two women who go on a rampage after one of them is raped. In France the film was withdrawn at one stage due to viewers' reactions to the scenes of sexual violence. John Beyer, director of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, said: I think the BBFC should take a broader view of society when they classify films. We are living in a violent society and the BBFC should take that into account when allowing people to watch these films.

Baise-moi is to be distributed in the UK by the Feature Film Company which submitted it to the BBFC last year for an adjudication. The BBFC decided that the film was fit for release as long as a rape scene was cut. The UK release of Amores Perros initially came under threat last year when a 60-year-old law meant that the BBFC had to decide whether the films pivotal scene could be screened in the UK. The scene which caused problems under the Cinematograph Films (Animals ) Act 1937 was 21 seconds of footage at a dog-fighting den in Mexico City. A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: We are unhappy with the content and the style of this film.

 

The Daily Mail

Anger at censors' apology for cut in violent rape film

Censors caused outrage when they approved a film featuring 'relentless sex and violence' and promptly apologised for cutting a scene which glamorises violent rape: We regret however, the necessity to censor part of a film directed at a mature audience who may reasonably expect to make up their own minds about it.

The shameful Shadow Culture Secretary Peter Ainsworth said that the board appeared to be 'losing its grip'. This is just crazy. To pass a film like this on the one hand and then apologise on the other makes no sense at all. Either the scene was acceptable or it was not acceptable.

 

25th February   Battle Royale

From the Guardian

A violent Japanese film linked to copycat crimes committed by teenagers is to be released in Britain this autumn. Battle Royale, directed by the veteran Japanese gangster movie director Kinji Fukasaku, contains graphic depictions of extreme violence committed by teenagers and has been blamed for a number of crimes.

The film, described as a cross between A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies, is set in the near future when the Japanese government - despairing of a wave of teen lawlessness - decides to make an example of the nation's worst-behaved class. The uniform-clad teenagers are placed on a remote jungle island, heavily armed, and told that only the last one alive will be allowed home. They are also made to wear a collar that explodes if they refuse. Mayhem follows as the characters, under the cold eye of their teacher, form gangs to slaughter their former friends before they turn on one another.

In one scene, a student stuffs a bomb into the severed head of one of his classmates and lobs it into a room where three others are hiding. In another scene, a girl slices through the neck of a classmate with a sickle while the victim begs for mercy.

Tens of thousands of Japanese youths queued for up to two days to get tickets for its opening on December 16. In the run-up to the launch, the education minister Nobutaka Machimura begged Japan's film censors to ban the film and urged cinemas not to show it. The government has even considered introducing a bill to strengthen its lax powers of censorship. However, Japan's film classification board simply confirmed its decision to restrict Battle Royale to audiences aged 16 and over.

Within hours of its opening, a 17-year-old boy went on the rampage in Tokyo with a baseball bat, attacking people at random and hospitalising a 68-year-old woman. It is not certain whether he had seen the film, but its critics pointed to the incident as proof that the general atmosphere in which violence is glorified leads to more violence.

The film does not have a US release date because it is unlikely any distributor there would touch it, but the British company Metro-Tartan will be releasing it in the UK around October. The distributor expects it to receive an 18 certificate. Paul Smith, a spokesman for Metro-Tartan, said: We are expecting it to do very well. Already the word is out there about it.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said that the film had not yet been submitted for examination, but confirmed that only one film last year did not receive a certificate - the distributor was not prepared to make the cuts suggested by the board. She said: We have been told by the public that they do not think that the board should prevent adults from seeing material they want to watch. They want to be able to make up their own minds."

Like The Blair Witch Project, the film has been a subject of intense discussion in internet chatrooms, adding to its mystique. The Guardian's film critic Jonathan Romney saw the film earlier this month at the Rotterdam film festival, and described it as this year's undisputed hot ticket, thoroughly tawdry, impossible not to enjoy. Battle Royale was nominated this month for the Japanese film industry's highest accolade: the Japan Academy prize for best picture of the year.

 

24th February   Scumbag Police Raid Fine Upstanding Street Traders

I particularly despise the lowlife amongst the police who seem to hold the simple purchase of sex on a par with terrorism. The vice squad is clearly staffed with a bunch of nutters who have got nothing better to do than try and deprive their fellow citizens of sexual pleasure. These police are the ones who belong in prison, not the girls or their customers. Perhaps they can be charged with gross abuse of human rights. The argument that the police are just trying to protect those caught up as 'sex slaves' does not justify a mass round up of the usual suspects. The police should investigate such crime on the basis of individual cases where evidence exists.

Anyway from the Evening Standard:

Scotland Yard last week launched one of its biggest-ever offensives against the sex trade in Soho. In a carefully planned swoop, codenamed Operation Victory, 14 teams of officers raided 50 brothels all of which were within a one-mile radius of the heart of Soho. The target addresses hit are all flats where police believe that prostitutes and pimps are regularly plying their trade.

Chief Inspector Chris Bradford of the Clubs and Vice Unit led the raids which began at 3.15pm and were completed shortly after 3.30. He said: It is imperative that we all go in at the same time because otherwise phones will start ringing before we get to some of the targets.

Officers from the Immigration Service joined the Clubs and Vice unit in the raids. Chief Inspector Bradford said: Many of the girls we questioned will doubtless have been trafficked into the country but whether they want to tell us about it or not, because of fear of their pimps, will be up to them but we will have a chance to talk to them."

He added: Through working with the Immigration Service we hope to gain valuable intelligence which could prove vital to cracking some of the highly organised structures which operate the vice trade in Soho.

Preparation for Operation Victory began on 22 January but today's is the first concerted police move to act on the intelligence it has uncovered. The raids are to be the first of a series of swoops as part of Operation Victory. Deputy Arch Assistant Nutter Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who heads the operation, said: We are using tools and techniques associated with counter-terrorism. The vice raids carried out today highlight the three main aims of Operation Victory. We are attempting to disrupt street crime and clean up the streets of Westminster by targeting criminal activity on different levels. Through the use of intelligence we aim to remove repeat offenders and raise awareness of the action people can take to protect themselves from becoming victims of crime. However we hope to make serious inroads into removing the markets and hidden economies which make criminal activity viable in Westminster.

More than 100 officers took part in the raids. Most of the women arrested came from Eastern European countries, notably Albania. One aim of the raids is to target the pimps who control the trade. One police source said: One of the key reasons for this raid is that we are trying to attack the hidden economy of Soho to get at the money which is propping up a lot of activity in this area. We also want to get these women out of the dangerous situations they are in to safe environments so that we can talk to them and unravel how they got here and who brought them in.

The majority of the raids were on the walk-up flats in Soho with the word "model" on the door on the street.

 

11th February   Trading SubStandard Vigilanties

Crap UK law is starting to rear its ugly head again when it comes to the completely unjustifiable ban on supplying R18 material via mail order. The arbitrary capability of local authorities to ban or limit the amount of sex shop licences issued will inevitably lead lead to the continued presence of a black market. The ability to censor adult material merely because of the opinion of local councillors is clearly an abuse of human rights.  According to the law, any prohibition must be strictly justified, not just based on opinion. Any business should have a right to a sex shop licence with the only grounds for refusal being that of failure to enforce age restrictions.  Anyway last week I received the following alarming email:

Today I received a visit from trading standards relating back from the correspondence they received from our good friend IV ( Internet Vigilante ) referring to the removal of my website WWW.X-SENSUAL.CO.UK. They informed me that they had made a test purchase of an R18 Video on January 10th 2001 from my shop based in the centre of Nottingham and reminded me that as I was selling R18 videos as well as a number of unclassified adult video & dvd's I was liable to prosecution under the Video recordings act 1984. I explained the situation of unfair competion in so much as that it was no longer a criminal offence to trade hardcore pornography in the united kingdom and that any one can access the internet or mail order from a magazine any hardcore title from mainland europe or america and have this delivered by post to there front door with no questions asked. Yet the same lawful material was being heavliy restricted for sale here in the UK.

I also made the point that there was no need to submit such material to the BBFC for a classification as the role of the classifier was to establish the suitablity of a film for the general public and that unlike mainstream movies were there is always a varied level of violence,sex,nudity etc in Adult XXX rated material there was a general concensous amoung the public that such material should only be available to those over the age of 18, there fore the need to classify should be voluntary. Of course he was not interested in hearing my fair and just objection to such unfair, biased and I am sure now illegal laws.

Any way the bottom line is that I shall not bow down to threats of intimidation from any authority and access my right as a free citizan to sell material which can no longer be classified illegal to the public were there is demand. The pending result of this is that I will be prosecuted and as a small business sure that this will ensure the end of my business unless I can win and sue these bastards. I am not a begger but this is a subject I have great passion for as a user of pornography myself I belive in the same rights and freedoms for all and hope to end this shitty lunacey once and for all. I am therefore asking for fellow melon farmers support as legal expenses are not cheap and there is no way that I can afford to fight these bastards with out support , so I would be greatful to any one who would like to make a small donation to assist in my crusade. You can send your donations to :

Xsensual
Unit 25 Westend Arcade
Nottingham NG1 6JP

Cheques can be made payable to Xsensual Online, any monies donated to my cause not used in legal expenses will be given to a charity of the Melon Farmers choice.

Best Regards Peter Ennis ( Xsensual Online )

 

February 1st   Giving the Broadcasters a Good Kicking

The most worthless of censors, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, have published a study of programmes shown during 1999 which highlighted a major increase in the amount of violence contained within terrestrial television programming, but attributed the rise in part to the coverage of the Kosovo conflict contained in news and current affairs programmes.

The revelation was met with concern by Gerald Kaufman, the chairman of the culture select committee, who urged the authorities to keep a tight rein on all broadcasters. Kaufman cautioned against sanitising the news in response to the study saying a broadcaster's duty to accurately portray event outweighed concerns about violence. He said:
The news should not be censored. News organisations have a duty to show people what is going on around the world."

The study also showed the number of violent programmes was decreasing at 65 per cent compared to 70 per cent two years ago, but those that did showed a marked increase in the amount of violent scenes contained in the programme.

Half of the people interviewed as part of the BSC's study now say that they are "concerned" about the rising levels of violence in television programmes, compared to one in 20 in the 1997's study.

In recent years the level of violence in television soap operas has risen dramatically as EastEnders and Brookside claim to reflect British society more accurately. While the BSC survey identified news and current affairs as a cause for the rise in TV violence, light entertainment shows were singled out as the primary cause of increased strong language.

Strong language is at record levels on terrestrial TV with 43 per cent of all the evening programmes monitored containing it. The survey did highlight that a larger proportion, 84 percent, of such language is now after the 9pm watershed. On satellite channels strong language increased by 44 per cent, with less than three quarters after 9pm.

The study also points to a marked increase sex scenes on satellite, with a record number of nude scenes and instances of sexual innuendo occurring on both satellite and terrestrial channels.

Channel 5 has been singled out for the high level of sex in its programming such as The Red Shoe Diaries, European Blue Review, Bedroom Confidential and 100% Sex. It has been warned by Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, over The Naked Jungle, a game show. It was hosted by a naked Keith Chegwin and nude contestants. Airey is now expected to invest £200 million in programming over the next year in order to boost the channel's appeal to a more general audience through more crime and historical documentaries along with more general entertainment shows. Airey has also secured the rights to the Australian soap opera Home And Away to pull in younger viewers.

 

21st January   A Hard Case of Rip Off

From the Daily Telegraph

A sex shop owner who sold "hardcore" pornographic films was ordered to pay £5,826 yesterday because they were not explicit enough.

Customers of Little Amsterdam, in York, and The Adult Shop, in Grimsby, owned by Nicholas Griffin, paid up to £50 a time for erotic videos. But when they got the films home they  discovered they were distinctly tame.

One video, Secrets of a Sensuous Nurse, was a 30-year-old comedy starring Ursula Andress and Jack Palance. Confessions of a Sex Maniac told the innocent story of an architect who wanted to build an office block shaped like a pair of breasts. Talk Naughty to Me proved to be equally "softcore".

Michael Taylor, prosecuting, said the charges against the company were only samples of numerous breaches. He added: These videos can be seen on late night terrestrial television. They were not the more interesting videos these people were seeking, and in simplistic terms it is clearly a breach of the Trade Descriptions Act. The public have been misled."

Colin Rumford, head of trading standards in York, said: We responded to complaints from the public, both men and women. They felt embarrassed and reluctant to come forward, but also felt cheated. They did not know exactly what they had bought until they settled down to watch the films. In many cases they must have got a shock, hence the complaints.

Griffin, 30, of Grimsby, pleaded guilty at York magistrates' court to four offences under the Trading Standards Act. Three complaints from customers were taken up, and Griffin Star Printing Company, owned by Griffin, prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act. The company admitted it applied false trade descriptions to the videos by labelling them "hardcore", and also pleaded guilty to selling a video without a censor's classification certificate. It was fined £3,800 and ordered to pay £2,026 costs.

Griffin said: I am amazed people have the audacity to complain about things like that. No one complained to me. In future, I will make sure that I know what I am selling. This is a pretty unique case and I shall tighten up on procedure.

 

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