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26th December   James Ferman: End of an Era

James Ferman, the chief censor from 1975 until 1999, died on Christmas Eve. He has made an enormous impact through out his time in charge. He was always firmly in charge of his board apparently verging on the dictatorial.

The longevity of his tenure maintained a ludicrous level of censorship way beyond its sell by date. Popular support typical of the 70's had been steadily eroded (albeit with a blip in the era of video nasties) and by the end, censorship was only being   preserved by Ferman's inertia and conservatism.

Ferman was proud of being the strictest censor in Europe but he was always uneasy that prohibition of hardcore was totally ineffective and had merely resulted in an enormous thriving black market. In fact he sewed the seeds of his downfall with a brave and unilateral relaxation in the cutting of hardcore. Jack Straw sacked him for his efforts and then tried to appoint a more censorial board. Of course the genie was now out of the bottle and Straw's efforts backfired. The change of leadership allowed for re-assessment and challenge ending up with the legalisation of hardcore and a much reduced level of interference in other releases.


24th December   Early Days for Video On Demand

From The Guardian

Broadcasters will be able to show 18 rated videos at any time of the day under new rules that were recently given government backing. The culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, has agreed with plans to exempt video on demand services from the rules that ban broadcasters from showing anything unsuitable for family viewing before 9pm. Jowell backed moves for the partial deregulation of video on demand services as part of a new code of practice for the industry.

At the moment, video on demand broadcasters such as Home Choice can offer only certain programmes - such as The Sopranos after the watershed. The proposed new code of practice allows video on demand services to break free of the watershed and, for example, broadcast softcore films at any time of the day.

Lord Dubs, chairman of TV watchdog the broadcasting standards commission, has already hit out at the proposals, warning they could lead to a gradual erosion of standards. This seems a step further towards the breach of the watershed and I'd be concerned that programming that is almost acceptable late at night coming on earlier in the evening without adequate safeguards," he told Media Guardian last month.

The new code is particularly interesting because it will allow video on demand operators to be regulated by a self-appointed group of TV executives, rather than coming under the new communications super-regulator, Ofcom. But Jowell insisted the new code of practice, which will be incorporated into the communications bill, will not lead to children watching unsuitable programmes and films before the watershed. I am satisfied that the code represents a system that will provide adequate protection for children, and to subscribers to video on demand services. This is responsible self-regulation of the kind we want to encourage.

Andy Birchall, the former Sky executive who runs the On Demand Group, which provides the Front Row film service to NTL and Telewest, said the move was a sensible progression. Video on demand is quite unlike linear broadcasting and the proposed self-regulation recognises that fact. In a video on demand environment, the viewer is able to control what he wants to watch and when he wants to watch it.

Companies that specialise in adult content point out that there is so much unregulated video on demand content available on the internet that the rules for television have become outdated.

Although there are currently only around 20,000 customers capable of receiving true video on demand services, through Home Choice in London and Kingston in Hull, cable giants NTL and Telewest remain determined to launch their own services, seeing it as a key point of difference from Sky Digital.


24th December   Police Whores

British politicians and the police seem to relish in making a real bad situation out of a problem of their own making. Why can't girls be allowed to work in a safe and legal environment? It would solve most of the problems overnight and in particular would resolve the problem of innocent people being persecuted by cops with a shitty attitude.

Based on an article in The Observer

The street corner has been carefully chosen: Bea is easily visible to men driving up from every direction, there is space for them to park close to where she stands and the street lights allow her to see their faces as clearly as possible.

Bea spent three nights last week on this street corner, waiting for kerb crawlers to ask her for sex. The petite 46-year-old blonde in her short, black skirt looked like any other prostitute on the streets of Britain but in fact she is actually a real lowlife. She has been a policewoman for 26 years and, for two years, has been a decoy prostitute for the Met's newest, and most successful, undercover operation.

The police have long wanted increased powers to target kerb crawlers, they were finally awarded the power to arrest offenders. You can't imagine the difference it makes; for the first time, we have a chance of making a difference, said Chris Bradford, superintendent at the Met's clubs and vice unit. Now local boroughs can call us in when their residents report a problem and, in a few short months, this has become one of our most successful operations.

There are six women like Bea working in six areas across London. In the past year alone, they have arrested more than 430 kerb crawlers. Before the law was changed, there were fewer than 600 convictions each year across the whole country.

The operation has been one of the Met's most tightly guarded secrets. But last week The Observer was allowed to accompany the police on an operation in east London.

Dotted around the surrounding housing estates, four unmarked arrest cars and one marked police car waited with their engines ticking over. Back at the police station, a team put the last touches to the dedicated custody unit, ready to charge the men and issue them with their bail conditions.

A smartly dressed young man in the driving seat is oblivious to anyone except a lowlife called Susan, who is leaning down towards the passenger seat window. What do you want?' she asked. 'I saw you standing there and thought you were familiar,' he replied. 'Yeah. So what do you want?' she asked again. He wanted 'business', but luckily for him he won't be drawn on specifics.

The cops apparently need specific requests as this is the best evidence to make absolutely sure there's no slip-up in the court. Susan had barely returned to her post when a smart red Audi U-turned to stop just feet away. The driver, an elderly man, is happy to be specific: he wants French - that is, oral sex - without a condom. Ensuring that his predilection has been clearly captured on tape, Susan declined his offer and walked swiftly away, silently but instantly flanked by two safety officers.

The nearby police car turned on its flashing blue light and the punter pulled over to the side of the road to let us pass. Instead, we drew up parallel, signalling him to stop. He did so, suddenly noticing the unmarked car in his rearview mirror with a start of shock.

You can see the cogs working in their head as they realise what's happening, said Bruce Martin, a police constable and trainer for the Met's vice team, as he slung on his jacket and opened the car door. Some try to deny it, some men attack us, some weep and some beg us to let them go because of their families or social position. After a while, though, most decide that they want to get it over with as soon as possible.

Martin strolled up to the Audi: Could you come out here, please, sir? he asked. The driver - 70 years old, got out of his car wearing an expression of bafflement. Quickly hemmed in by five plain-clothed officers, his rights are read out to him. You have just solicited a woman who was an undercover police officer, said the arresting officer. Your conversation was recorded and you are being arrested for kerb crawling'

The driver exploded.. I've been set up, he shouted. Anticipating trouble, the officers move in closer, pinning his arms and slipping on a pair of handcuffs. It's pathetic, This is a massive waste of police resources when there are terrorists all over London. I can't believe you're wasting your time doing this.

Although it is efficient, the kerb- crawling operation is a controversial one, with experts such as Dr Belinda Brookes-Gordon, Britain's leading expert in prostitution-related research, who has advised the NHS and the Government, numbered among its harshest critics. This law makes prostitutes more likely to be attacked It means that punters will spend less time in known red-light districts, forcing prostitutes to move out into unfamiliar areas where they will have less chance to assess how dangerous the men could be. It's an expensive and labour-intensive operation that does more harm than good.

The police officers admit, too, that the long-term effect operation is questionable: This is a drop in the ocean, admitted Bradford. It makes a difference for a short while, then incidents begin to creep back up. This scheme might not be perfect, but at least now kerb crawlers might think twice before going out.


14th December   Clip Joints Clipped

I have absolutely no sympathy with the thugs and criminals that inhabit the clip joints of Soho. Somehow it is unbelievable that they can exist in the first place when every person that goes through the door is becomes a victim of theft or fraud or is threatened with assault. However surely Westminster Council must take a lot of the blame for so resolutely refusing to license adult entertainment that is so clearly in demand.

From the BBC

re suspected of being linked to robberies, blackmail and unlicensed sex shops. Police have arrested 13 people after raiding three clip joints in central London. The Soho premises, which are known as "near beers", have all been closed down following a police investigation lasting several months. Scotland Yard said those arrested on Thursday night a

Twelve people, from three different addresses, were arrested on suspicion of deception and another man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and immigration offences. They are all being held at central London police stations. The three premises subject to Thursday night's raid have been boarded up and their signs dismantled.

The investigation has focused on concerns that clubs are increasingly luring tourists and drunken passers-by with false promises of a live strip show. However, on entering they are presented with a bill of up to 500 before seeing anything. If they resist, they are intimidated and threatened.

News of the raids came as Anthony Child, an ice hockey player with the Romford Raiders, was convicted of threatening two men who entered a clip joint in Soho. Southwark Crown Court heard part-time security guard Child, 22, warned the men that, unless they paid, he would break every bone in your bodies. He received just 200 hours community service.

In an outrageous failure of British justice, girls working in the bar were given the same 200 hours of community service as the thugs.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Near beers claim to offer entertainment in the form of striptease and customers are invited in for a fee usually of about 5 to see a performance. They are unlicensed premises and cannot legally perform any entertainment. However, it is never their intention to supply any as once the customer is inside, a bill of 400 or more is usually presented."

Westminster City Council took part in the same operation and raided three unlicensed sex shops seizing more than 1,000 videos and DVDS. Councillor Alan Bradley, from the council, told BBC London there had always been vice and sex in Soho. But, he added: The important thing is not to have places that will rip off tourists by demanding money with menaces.


14th December   Sex on the Beach

From  The Sun

Couples will be allowed to have sex at parks, car parks and on the beach in Brighton, Sussex. Police have been given instructions not to intervene when they hear the sounds of sex, so long as nobody is offended and no one harmed.


12th December   Precedent is Just Not Cricket

From  The Guardian

In a precedent-setting move, the Australian high court has ruled that a Dow Jones subsidiary can be tried in the state of Victoria for a story it published on its website.

Joseph Gutnik, a Melbourne mining magnate, brought a charge of defamation against Dow Jones for a story that appeared on its Barron's web site. Gutnik's lawyers argued that the story could be read by Australians and therefore should be tried locally.

Lawyers for Dow Jones responded that despite where the story could be read, it was published in the United States and therefore the case should be tried there. The Australian court disagreed, establishing jurisdiction at the point of viewing. This is thought to be the first such occurrence of jurisdiction via internet.

The ruling sends an unnerving message to internet publishers around the world. They could be forced to defend themselves at huge expense in courts on the other side of the world, possibly over remarks that would not even attract legal liability at home.

The judgment gives a whole new dimension to the forum-shopping which has made London, noted for its pro-claimant libel laws, the libel capital of the world. For printed publica tions, the distribution of only a few copies is enough to open the English courts to foreign libel claimants. The Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, for example, has been allowed to sue Forbes, the US business magazine, at the high court in London.

With the internet, publication happens worldwide, wherever the words are viewed online. An English nuclear physicist, Laurence Godfrey, has sued in the UK, Canada, the US and New Zealand and won out-of-court settlements for defamatory comments about him posted in internet chatrooms.

While the Australian judgment is not a precedent for the English courts, it would be "highly persuasive" here, said Dan Tench, of the media law firm Olswangs. English courts regularly adopt rulings from the courts of other common law countries where no similar English case has reached the courts. Tench added: I would certainly expect the same result here.

But not everyone will be able to sue in any particular country. Lawyers said there would still be arguments about which country's courts were the appropriate venue and libel claimants would still have to show some links with the country where they wanted to sue. Dow Jones had claimed it would have to consider libel law "from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe" before posting anything on its website. In the Australian case, the remarks claimed to be defamatory were about Gutnick's business activities in Australia, the place where he is best known and where his reputation matters most.


12th December   Obscene Waste of Police Time

From ThisIsLocalLondon

Investigations into the hardcore pornography industry in south east London led to five arrests in dawn raids and thousands of pounds worth of video equipment being seized. Police seized more than 7,000 video tapes, computer equipment, 55 video recorders, DVD players, master tapes, cash and business documents.

Five men were arrested, suspected of breaching the Obscene Publications Act. All five have been bailed to return to a central London police station on March 6 next year.

Search warrants were issued for seven addresses after a three-month investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the production and distribution of hard-core pornography. Police will trawl thousands of hours of film before deciding whether to press charges.

(This sounds to be a very dodgy police action...they have devastatingly traumatised people, ruined businesses without even deciding if the material is obscene yet. It is probably very unlikely to be much more than consensual adult hardcore otherwise the police and local rags would have certainly revelled in lurid details. I also edited out some of the typical weighted language used by crappy local papers such as describing the arrested men as 'ringleaders').


10th December   OfSpam

From ZDNet

Speaking in the House of Commons recently, MP Derek Wyatt said that Ofcom should make Internet Service Providers (ISPs) tackle the issue of unsolicited pornographic emails. Wyatt also wants a law brought in to protect children from such material. However, senior officials at Ofcom have insisted that they will not regulate the Internet.

Wyatt -- a committed anti-spam campaigner -- warned that the problem of spam is becoming increasingly serious, and wants Ofcom to have the power to force ISPs to bring in effective filtering software. We are not addressing the issue, and I want to see a much tougher power for Ofcom included in the Bill. We must tell the Internet Service Providers that they must either accept a charter given to them by Ofcom, or be charged a licence fee. They would choose a charter pretty quickly. If they were not prepared to, Ofcom should be allowed to require the installation of screening software to ensure that all ISPs screen for pornography, especially child pornography, which is appalling and disgusting.

Ofcom will begin its regulatory role once the Communications Bill passes into law, probably in the second half of next year. Its duties includes protecting consumers from broadcasting content that could cause "harm and offence". This remit, though, does not extend to material delivered across the Internet.

The Department of Trade and Industry -- which is overseeing the passage of the Communications Bill through parliament -- told ZDNet UK that online content is already covered by many existing laws, including those regarding obscenity.

It has been suggested that Ofcom's stance on Internet regulation will come unstuck as broadband networks allow more broadcasting via the Web. Officials at the regulator have indicated, though, that they do not think this will be a problem within the next ten years.


8th December   Easy Hits

From The Register

In its latest round of kickings, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints about two easynet ads that appeared in the Evening Standard. One featured a picture of a man being punched in the face by another man. The caption read: When your MD finds out you're spending up to 85% too much on your Internet connection. Another photograph showed a man being punched in the face by a woman and was headlined: When your employees discover that their Internet connection could be 140* times faster.

The complainants objected that the advertisements were offensive and condoned violent and anti-social behaviour. The ASA agreed. The ASA told the ISP not to do it again.

The ASA was also unhappy with an ad from Eurocall Ltd, which featured a picture of a handgun lying flat on the page. It was titled "Serial Killer". The text read: When we see our competitors struggling we finish them off ... An aggressive approach that has allowed us to more than treble our business and give us the largest dealer channel in the UK. Dying to know more?

People objected on the grounds that the image and text were "offensive and irresponsibly aggressive", especially since it appeared at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The ASA told Eurocall not to do it again.


27th November   Police Talk Pants

This is one of the most stupid stories I have read for a long while. Sexy lingerie does no harm whatsoever, there is no justification for any controls on its supply. Anyone attempting to prohibit the sale of lingerie should be marched straight off to jail for the gross abuse of human rights.

Based on an article in The Daily Record

As part of a proposal to clamp down on sex shops, police in Scotland have asked ministers to explain what is sexy and what is functional when it comes to underwear.

Colin McKerracher, secretary of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, has written a letter saying: When does underwear cease to be a functional piece of clothing and become something `intended for use in connection with, or for the purpose of, stimulating or encouraging sexual activity'? It would assist with enforcement if the definitions of `sex shop' and to a lesser extent `sex article' were more clear-cut.

The questions are part of a response to Scottish Executive plans to tighten rules governing sex shops. McKerracher wants definitions to be clearer to prevent rogue operators flouting the law surrounding licensing of sex shops.

He says in his letter: Problems have been encountered when an applicant has been refused a licence. The applicant has then proceeded to trade from the premises stocking predominantly lingerie, but with other, more controversial, items that may not be `sex articles' per se, but may have those connotations depending on how they are displayed. The onus invariably falls on the police to charge the operator with trading without a licence or weather the storm from public objectors.

(Perhaps the police would do better investigating the dodgy justifications for refusal provided by the council in the first place)


26th November   Councillors Under Pressure to Obey the Law

Clearly the wording of the sex shop licensing law needs urgent attention. It is currently encouraging corruption by suggesting that councillors can somehow put their own ethical views above the law merely by providing a feeble reason. It should be made clear that the only grounds for refusal should be a proper justification of the harm that would otherwise occur.

From The Belfast Telegraph

Porn baron Larry Flynt may bankroll legal action against Belfast City Council's refusal to grant sex-shop licences. The publisher of Hustler magazine is a high-profile campaigner for freedom of speech. He has indicated that he will financially back the cause of Belfast sex shop owners, who are already resigned to at least a High Court action against the council.

Frank Young - whose son Damien is a director of Sharman Enterprises - met Flynt in Europe recently, and the porn baron-turned freedom campaigner indicated that he would be happy to underwrite a legal fight all the way to the European Courts.

If two licence applications made by Sharman Enterprises - and a further four by other sex shop owners - are finally rejected by the city fathers later this year, an appeal for leave for a judicial review will be launched. Lawyers acting for Belfast's sex shops believe they have a raft of legal points, concerning the council's licensing procedures, upon which to base an appeal for leave for a judicial review.

If the council loses a court battle, it will be the ratepayers left to foot a 20,000 legal bill. A behind-closed-doors hearing for the six applications was adjourned last week by the council, after a number of objections against two of the applications were heard by members.

However, according to an internal council document, seen by Sunday Life, only ONE objection was lodged within the legal time limit. Police have written to the council to inform them that they have NO objection to any of the six sex shops being granted a licence.

In the past, some councillors in Belfast have openly branded sex shops "degrading, immoral and indecent". But one Ulster Unionist councillor admitted they were beginning to worry about potential legal action. If a judge was to instruct the council to grant these licences, as is the case in many other cities throughout the UK and Europe, then councillors could be surcharged if they refused to implement such an order.

(They should be surcharged if they unjustifiably refuse to award the license in the first place)


24th November   I Fucking Did Chris

Based on an article in The Guardian

Chris Moyles has been rapped by the ITC for minor swearing on his Channel 5 show. (A little rich for an organisation that so blatently abuses human rights to whinge about such a minor transgression)

Station bosses have been told to consider installing a "delay mechanism" on the programme, which is produced by Chris Evans, after the incident during a phone-in quiz. Asked whether he had experienced the previous night's earthquake in Birmingham, the caller replied: I fucking did, Chris.

Channel 5 said the language was an example of the casual swearing so commonplace among large sectors of the population. But it said it thoroughly regretted the incident, and said all callers were warned before going on air. Moyles also apologised on air.

The ITC said it noted there had been no further instances of strong language of this nature... but advised the licensee consideration should be given to measures such as a delay mechanism to avoid similar incidents.

Moyles, who also has a show on BBC Radio 1, was shown a yellow card by corporation chiefs last month after threatening to tear the head off" Popstars judge Neil "Dr" Fox and "poo down his neck.

And earlier this year he was condemned by the broadcasting standards commission after offering to take the virginity of teenage singer Charlotte Church. Moyles, speaking on the soprano's 16th birthday, said he wanted to lead her through the forest of sexuality now she had reached 16.

A Channel 4 schools programme, Geography Junction, was also criticised by the ITC for a sequence in which a girl was shown singing a homophobic Jamaican song. The lyrics included the line "step on the chi chi man", a pejorative Jamaican term for an effeminate man or homosexual. C4 apologised and removed the song from all future transmissions.

The Wonderful Channel, a specialist religious satellite channel, was also criticised by the ITC for running a US-produced Christian evangelical series, Set Free, in which guests discussed homosexuality and the possibility of people being "delivered" from this "condition".


24th November   Bedevilled By Censorship

From The Guardian

A notorious sex scene involving nuns and a statue of Christ is to be shown on Channel 4 on Monday (25th Nov)  more than three decades after being banned by film censors. The controversial footage, from Ken Russell's movie The Devils, caused outrage when the movie was shown to watchdogs and was cut from the film following howls of protest.

The footage, long thought to have been destroyed, was recently unearthed and will be screened in a Channel 4 documentary on November 25. The "rape of Christ" scene is infamous among movie buffs but has remained unseen since the film was made in 1971.

Russell based his film - about demonic possession and starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave - on a book by Aldous Huxley, which was inspired by a true story. Set in France during the reign of Louis XIII and the suppression of the Huguenots, the film centres on the politically motivated torture of a priest and the ensuing sexual hysteria in a convent.

Russell said he was advised to remove the offending scene by the then head of the BBFC, John Trevelyan. It had disappeared by the time the film was finally submitted for a rating.

Many local authorities refused to show the film and Christian nutters claimed it was blasphemous.

Critic and writer Mark Kermode spent months persuading film bosses to raid movie vaults in the hope of finding the footage. It was eventually found, having been wrongly labelled. Kermode said: Wresting this footage from the darkened vaults and placing it in the glare of the public gaze, where it rightly belongs, has been a tortuous process which stands as a testament to The Devils' continuing power to shock and startle."

The scene will be screened in the Channel 4 documentary Hell on Earth, which examines the story behind the film and is presented by Kermode. The programme will be followed by a screening of The Devils.


22nd November   Trading Substandards

From Tony at Taboo

Just to let you know how things are going. Well the Worcester trading standards came in the shop and gave me two summons to appear at Kidderminster Magistrates on 17/10/02. We have had this adorned so we can put defence together. The charges are as follows.

  • That we did supply one film called, art of anal sex, contrary to the video recording act, which states that a R18 video can only be supplied in a licensed sex shop.
  • That we did supply a film called indecency, contrary to the video recording act that states that a R18 video can only be supplied in a licensed sex shop.

Got the new trial date today which is  14/11/02 at kidderminster Magistrates

Went to court on Thursday 14/11/02, at the standard 10am. New court date set for 09/01/03 for pre trial review.

Letter from my solicitor to, tell me what the trading standards are trying to get me with.

The Worcester Trading Standards view is, that l did breach section 12 of the video recording act, in that, l did not supply the two R18s videos in a licenced sex shop face to face. l did supply them on the Taboo Web Site, which they believe is not covered by the act. The point of supply taking place outside the Taboo Sex Shop is at the point of delivery.

My View: Makes good reading, but not common sense.

Any of your readers have any views on this.


21st November   Bollox at the ITC

It is about time that the boss of the ITC was prosecuted and sent to prison. The ITC are blatantly breaking European law by censorship without justification. They restrict our viewing without stating what harm they believe they are preventing. Instead they merely fend of challenge with the arrogant statement that explicit images are not allowed merely because they say so.

Here is recent example of how they dealt with the complaint from a single viewer. Did they try and find out the views from the other 20,000 subscribers? Did they consult with the enforcement agencies about legality? Did they research the impact of explicit programming? Judge for yourself

  • Channel: The Adult Channel
  • Date & time: Friday 19 April and Saturday 20 April: Various times, 10pm onwards
  • Category: Sexual portrayal
  • Complaint from: 1 viewer
  • Background

The Adult Channel provides programming of a more 'adult' nature than would be acceptable on more generally available channels. It is an encrypted service available only to adults who specifically select it. Programming on such channels cannot go beyond the standards of explicitness generally applied to videos available in high street outlets.

ITC staff were alerted to instances of explicitness that exceeded the normal boundaries.

  • Issue

A number of sequences within programmes contained anatomical detail that is not allowed by the ITC on any licensed service.

  • Assessment

The Adult Channel acknowledged that there had been no change in the ITC's rules for adult services. But it said that because programming had increasingly been produced directly for the channel, rather than being acquired as finished product from unrelated third parties, they had been able to specify content to be closer to acceptable limits, whilst still aiming to be within them. This necessarily meant more difficult subjective decisions by the licensee, but they believed that in many cases the decisions were marginal.

The ITC did not accept that the lapses were in general marginal, or that the different sources of programming could justify many of the problems seen.

The Adult Channel was warned that further examples of serious or repeated breaches would be likely to attract material sanctions.

  • Conclusion

The instances of unduly explicit programmes were in breach of Programme Code Section 1.1.


27th October   Aberdeen Angers

From the Aberdeen Press And Journal

A row over God brought a meeting on sex shops to a standstill in Aberdeen yesterday. The meeting of the city council's licensing committee erupted when veteran councillor Bill Traynor asked a lawyer representing one prospective sex-shop proprietor: Do you believe in God? The question was dismissed as an "impertinence" by Richard Barca, the lawyer the question was directed at. He said it had no relevance to proceedings. Committee convener George Urquhart immediately instructed Mr Traynor to withdraw his comment. Bill, you're bringing this entire committee into disrepute.

An angry Mr Barca later branded Seaton councillor Mr Traynor unfit for office and said that his comments could form part of an appeal. For my religious beliefs to become subject of an application for a sex-shop licence is such that his credibility to continue in existence as a councillor must be seriously doubted.

The separate applications for sex shops in Market Street and Mearns Street were rejected. Both were overwhelmingly voted out on the grounds of the effect they would have on residents living nearby. (Pull the other one! it is the personal nutter views of the councillors in question that have overridden the rights of aberdeen citizens without the proper justification required by European law).

Councillors first voted 10-2 against an application from former city council worker John Baigrie who wanted to open a shop at 202-4 Market Street. The committee heard that Mr Baigrie currently ran a shop in Urquhart Road which sold lingerie as well as items which were available in other city shops such as Ann Summers. His agent, John Gauld, told the committee that the shop window would be blocked and nobody would be able to see in.

The committee eventually backed a motion from Councillor Jurgen Thomaneck that the application be refused on the grounds of the effect the shop would have on local residents and their amenity. However, Mr Gauld demanded a written reason for the judgment and intimated later that his client would be appealing the matter.

The committee later heard from Kenneth Barnetson and James Humphrey, who had wanted to open a sex shop in Mearns Road, in the city's dockland area. Their agent, Mr Barca, said the location was suitable precisely because it would not have the same impact on residential facilities as a previous application.

The committee voted 12-2 in favour of Councillor Thomaneck's motion to refuse the shop because of the impact it would have on residents. Mr Barca also asked for a written reasons for the judgment and said his client might consider an appeal.


2nd October   Plodding without Thinking

From The Register

The Metropolitan Police have backed down in a row over a satirical Web site which was shut down following complaints from members of the public. Police had requested that the hosts of shut down the site alleging that the content could "incite violence".

However, it was reactivated earlier this week in a direct challenge to police requests. The man behind the site, Paul Carr, said he wanted police to obtain a formal warrant to close down the site - or allow him to continue publishing his satirical work. At the time he said he made his stand in a bid to "safeguard the right to freedom of speech on the Internet".

Now, it appears he has won his battle. An update posted on ThinkofTheChildren reports that its host, Host Europe, will not pull the site so long as it remains in its current format.

Carr adds that the police have agreed not to investigate the site further unless they receive fresh complaints about it. Even then, it appears police would have to obtain a warrant first to enforce the closure of the site.
So, there you have it. One small step for me, one giant leap for the fight against informal censorship.


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