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 2004: April-June

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22nd June   Blunkett's Crap Law

Thanks to Alan

From an interesting and (rare) on-topic thread of uk.politics.censorship.

The News of the World has, both in print and on its web page, published paparazzi pictures of some minor celebrity and his girlfriend on the beach. The girlfriend has her tits out and - get this! - she is SEVENTEEN.

Under the absurd change to the Protection of Children Act sneaked through in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, she is officially a child, and the pictures are potentially "indecent". Some wag has apparently complained to Mr Plod!

 

14th June

  Hate Censorship

Europe and the US clashed head-on over how to tackle xenophobic material found online, with the European tendency towards tough regulations at odds with US constitutional protection of free speech.

After a two-day conference in Paris this week, the group of international delegates failed to reach the strong consensus people had been hoping for. Instead, they called for greater co-operation between governments and industry to fight the material.

The news comes in the same week as reports that the number websites promoting hate and violence has risen nearly 300 per cent since 2000.

European officials argued that online publishing of racist, anti-semitic and xenophobic materials should be made illegal. This would send a message that the dissemination of hate on the internet would not be tolerated, they said.

However, according to the International Herald Tribune, the US delegates disagreed. Stephan Minikes, US ambassador to the OSCE said that suppressing views was not the correct way forward. Rather than fear the purveyors of hate, let us confront them in the marketplace of free ideas, he said.

Instead, the US delegates proposed further investigation into how effective banning such material would be. With the Net being the kind of place it is, it is doubtful that legislation would be able to stop the publication of racist or xenophobic material.

 

12th June

  Euro Censors

From PA

European governments agreed new moves recently to target illegal and harmful websites.

A new £28 million package of measures agreed at talks in Luxembourg includes:

  • Hotlines allowing users to report internet content they regard as illegal or harmful (particularly to children), including the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation;
  • Technology allowing users to filter or limit the unsolicited material they receive;
  • Financing of meetings of “interested parties” – content providers, internet service providers, mobile network operators and NGOs – to promote effective codes of conduct;
  • Financing conferences and other means to raise awareness amongst parents and teachers about the safe use of the internet.

A UK Government spokesman said the UK internet industry and NGOs promoting child protection were already making progress in tackling the problem, UK-based projects would now receive funding under the new EU programme.

They are likely to include the Internet Watch Foundation hotline, the University of Central Lancashire, which co-ordinates EU best practice in internet use, and INHOPE, the EU co-ordinator of best practice for hotlines.

The spokesman said:
This is an example of the EU at its best, spending money sensibly to support national efforts to crack down on dodgy internet sites. The internet’s boundaries do not end at our borders and it must make sense to act together internationally to tackle these problems.

 

10th June

  Unclean Unclean!

From The Register

BT has begun fleshing out its plans to block its Internet users from accessing websites containing illegal images of child abuse.

The system, called Cleanfeed, will censor access to several thousand websites on a blacklist compiled by UK Internet trade body, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The blacklist features sites contain images of child sexual abuse that are "illegal to view" in the UK, under the 1978 Child Protection Act.

Conventional wisdom has it that applying censorship to control access to paedophile material online is beyond the scope of existing technologies and plagued by practical difficulties. However BT reckons it has come up with a workable - if still only partial - response to the problem.

Mike Galvin, director of Internet operations BT Retail, explained that Cleanfeed will only filter website traffic and will have no effect on material transmitted through P2P networks or via email. "Cleanfeed only looks at port 80 traffic. It's not a complete solution," he told El Reg.

How it works
Cleanfeed uses a two-stage filtering process. Firstly an access control list on a bank of Cisco routers re-directs BT customers who make a request to access suspect websites to an array of caches. Other traffic passes through virtually unimpeded. The array of Network Appliance caches is programmed to serve an error page, stored in the cache, whenever a request to access am IWF blacklisted website is made.

Galvin said: If the URL of not on list, Cleanfeed won't stop it. This is designed to block casual access to child abuse material on the Net. It won't stop a hardened paedophile and we're not saying that. One of the things we want to cut down on is unintentional access to this kind of material. We're aimed this technology at Web access because this is the most universal means of accessing this kind of content.

BT is testing the system and plans to introduce it with its own BT Retail customers in a matter of weeks, a debut which has been accelerated by a weekend report in The Observer about the scheme.

Voluntary introduction
The monster telco is also prepared to make its technology available to other ISPs on a wholesale basis. It claims to be already is discussion with others service providers. The Cleanfeed trial has the backing and support of the Home Office but BT said it thought of the idea itself and pushed forward the idea as a means of becoming a more responsible corporate citizen.

This is a voluntary act by BT. I've no idea if anyone will follow, said Galvin. If this kind of technology was made mandatory there would have to be changes in the law.

The US state of Pennsylvania has been forcing ISPs to block access to child abuse websites for some time but this is very much the exception rather than the rule.

Blacklist watch
Concerns about the system have focused on the accuracy on the blacklist. Already doubts have been expressed that no sooner has a site been blacklisted before it changes its host or URL and re-appears somewhere else. BT does not have a role in compiling the blacklist, and Galvin referred our questions on this over to the IWF.

Peter Robbins, chief exec of the Internet Watch Foundation, said the blacklist it compiled was dynamic and updated every week with around 60 new sites. Between 3,000 - 3,500 sites hosting illegal child abuse content are on its list. Paedophiles have been known to hack into websites to host illegal content, an incident that might potentially leave a company or university server blocked for months after illegal content is purged. Robbins acknowledged that hijacking happens but says this is rare. Organisations who find themselves unfairly blocked can go through an established appeals procedure, he added.

Industry reaction
BT's initiative is been closely watched by the Internet industry as a whole. The Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) said it is nothing new for it and its members have a zero tolerance of illegal child abuse content. ISPA is clean to play down any perception that ISPs need only follow BT's lead in order to curtail the availability of child abuse images on the Net.

ISPA said: Each ISP has a different infrastructure. This means that there is no 'one size fits' all technical solution to preventing access to websites offering illegal images in territories outside of the UK. As with any technical solution, care must be taken to ensure blocking websites offering illegal images does not cause collateral damage. Any such technical measures installed by ISPs must be evaluated over time to judge their success.

The Cleanfeed solution now under trial by BT will only prevent 'casual' browsing of known websites. It will not hinder organised distribution of such images. It will not prevent access to new websites offering illegal content, nor will it prevent children being abused,
it added.

 

7th June

  Laudable but...

The question is.. can one trust the authorities to restrain from using such technology to rapidly slip into censorship of other whipping posts of the blame society. Given that the state are still persecuting many harmless areas of sexual entertainment, I don't believe that I can trust them to respect freedom and tolerance....Any more than I can trust them to refrain from unnecessary killing and torture.

From The Guardian

British Telecom has taken the unprecedented step of blocking all illegal child pornography websites. The decision by Britain's largest high-speed internet provider will lead to the first mass censorship of the web attempted in a Western democracy.

The move, previously thought to be at the limits of technical possibilities of the internet and prohibitively expensive, was given the personal backing of BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland at a board meeting last month after intense pressure from children's charities.

Known as Cleanfeed, the project has been developed in consultation with the Home Office and will go live by the end of the month, The Observer can reveal. Other major players in the internet market, such as Energis and Thus, which owns rival Demon Internet, are said to be preparing to block banned sites.

Subscribers to British Telecom's internet services such as BTYahoo and BTInternet who attempt to access illegal sites will receive an error message as if the page was unavailable. BT will register the number of attempts but will not be able to record details of those accessing the sites.

A list of illegal sites compiled by the Internet Watch Foundation, the industry's watchdog, has been available for some time, but until now there has been no way to prevent people accessing them because most are based outside the UK.

The initiative would not have been possible a year ago, but improvements in computer processing speeds means that the company is now able to block websites, offensive pages and even individual images of abuse.

The move is the brainchild of John Carr, internet adviser to children's charity NCH, who wrote to Home Office Minister Paul Goggins last July urging action on paedophile websites after a successful campaign to block internet newsgroups (electronic message boards). Goggins approached internet providers last September to ask them to investigate if it would be possible. At first they were resistant, but BT came back to the Home Office last month to announce early tests of Cleanfeed had been successful.

Blocking websites is highly controversial and has always been associated only with oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and China, which have censored sites associated with dissidents. But many in the field of child protection believe that the explosion of paedophile sites justifies the crackdown.

Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail, added: You are always caught between the desire to tackle child pornography and freedom of information. But I was fed up with not acting on this and always being told that it was technically impossible.

 

4th June

  Free Speech Freely Corrupted

From the Telegraph

A pensioner who warned motorists of a police speed trap was convicted of wilfully obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty, banned from driving and ordered to pay £364 costs yesterday.

Stuart Harding, 71, was attempting to slow motorists down as they approached a Sunday morning car boot sale where many people were crossing the road.

Noticing that police were parked nearby with an officer using a hand-held laser speed camera, he decided that a warning stating "Speed Trap - 300 yards ahead" would be the most effective way of getting drivers to reduce their speed. But as soon as the officers noticed his placard he was cautioned for committing an offence.

Harding who appeared before magistrates in Aldershot, Hants, yesterday, had pleaded not guilty to the charge. He said: I have been convicted of breaking the law because I was trying to stop others from doing so. It is totally unjust.

Alex Wyman, the presiding magistrate, told Harding: The use of the sign was a deliberate and intentional act and by use of the words 'speed trap' you were assisting speeding motorists from being prosecuted.

After his conviction Harding told the magistrates he planned to appeal, adding that he needed his car to drive to church and that he was due to take his wife and friends on holiday in a camper van.

The clerk of the court pointed out to magistrates that unless the ban was suspended it would have run its course before the appeal was heard. But they ordered it should take immediate effect.

After the case Harding said that he had been told that fines collected from speeding motorists on that stretch of the road had netted £12,000 in one morning alone. It seems to be more about raising revenue than road safety. I'm just so angry and upset about the driving ban. It was totally uncalled for because this wasn't a motoring offence, he said.

 

24th May

  Biggest Unfeeling Shits that I Have Ever Reported On

Well Ronnie Convery and Catherine Hooper deserve a special Melon Farming award for being the biggest unfeeling shits that I have ever reported on.

From the Sunday Mail

Handicapped adults are to be given hardcore porn bought by their carers. Social workers, carers, nurses and support workers will be told they must help adults with learning disabilities buy top-shelf magazines, videos or other sexually explicit material.

Staff will be encouraged to go into sex shops or on the internet to obtain the porn. The guidelines from Lothian NHS Trust could be adopted across Scotland.

Catholic Church shameful spokesnutter Ronnie Convery said: It is irresponsible for any public body to be facilitating access to pornography. It degrades women and it degrades those who use it.

Scottish Women Against Pornography shameful spokesnutter Catherine Harper said: I'm appalled that people with learning difficulties are to be encouraged to access pornography. It has links with violence against women and children, including rape and sexual abuse.'

However, Ray Flint, Director of Partnership Development, who produced the guidelines, backed the proposals. He said: They've been welcomed as a valuable tool, providing guidance for staff on handling the issues surrounding sex and relationships. The policy also makes it clear that any use of illegal material is unacceptable.'

 

22nd May

  New Censors on the Block

I can but presume that the Cinema Advertising Association is run by Americans! As the labor Government has so keenly maintained a climate of censorship in Britain I suggest that Melon Farmers should look elsewhere. The Lib Dems have a far healthier approach to censorship, respect and civilisation.

From the BBC

A film advert encouraging people to vote in the European elections has been censored in Britain to eliminate a glimpse of a bare nipple. The European Parliament film depicts various choices being made by a jury, school pupils and a breastfed baby.

Brief shots of the mother's nipple were cut from the version to be shown in 2,200 British cinemas, on the orders of the Cinema Advertising Association. The advert will be shown unedited in up to 24 EU countries.

Labour MP Julia Drown said the move highlighted "a real inconsistency" in attitudes towards breastfeeding in the UK. There is a minority of people in the country who are somehow offended by breastfeeding in public, who somehow think it's a bit scary, rude or unacceptable, she said. But it just forgets the fact that millions of bosoms are thrust into people's faces every single day in the tabloids."

Two versions of the promotional film have been made by the European Parliament's audio-visual department, lasting 45 seconds and 30 seconds. Both feature the breast-feeding scene, and Britain was the only country which required the nipple to be cut from both versions.

The advert ends with the voice-over message: You've been voting since you were born: don't stop now - European Parliament elections, 10 June.

Apart from the language of the final message, the advert was intended to be exactly the same for all European audiences. However, in addition to cuts demanded in Britain, French censors were uncomfortable about a brief shot of a stern-looking female judge receiving a jury's verdict. Ireland has reportedly decided not to screen the advert at all.

The edited advert will be shown in British cinemas from 28 May.

 

18th May

  UK Artcore

From The Guardian

The most sexually explicit film in the history of mainstream British cinema, containing unsimulated sex scenes including fellatio, ejaculation and cunnilingus, many in close-up, yesterday had its first screening at Cannes. Michael Winterbottom, the Lancashire-born director of Nine Songs, a love story, said: I had been thinking for a while about the fact that most cinematic love stories miss out on the physical relationship, and if it is indicated at all everyone knows it is fake. Books deal explicitly with sex, as they do with any other subject. Cinema has been extremely conservative and prudish. I wanted to go to the opposite extreme and show a relationship only through sex. Part of the point of making the film was to say, 'What's wrong with showing sex?'

The film revolves around a young couple in London, Matt and his American girlfriend Lisa. The sex scenes, which occupy more than half of the film, are intercut with scenes of bands playing, including Franz Ferdinand, the Dandy Warhols, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Super Furry Animals.

Matt is played by Kieran O'Brien, with whom Winterbottom has worked on a previous film, 24 Hour Party People. However, the woman playing Lisa has asked that her name not be used in coverage of the movie, although it does appear in the credits. She's not an actress, said Winterbottom. She really likes the film but she is going back to university and I think she wants to keep a low profile.

Despite the intimacy of the subject-matter, shooting the film was straightforward, according to Winterbottom. Having cast the two leads, a rehearsal was staged, after which they were given the opportunity to leave the project.

The film has not yet been given a certificate, though Winterbottom is optimistic. Of the fellatio-and-ejaculation scene, the one likely to give the censors most pause, he said: We can always take that out.

Derek Malcolm, the Guardian's veteran film writer, said:
Nine Songs looks like a porn movie, but it feels like a love story. The sex is used as a metaphor for the rest of the couple's relationship. And it is shot with Winterbottom's customary sensitivity.

 

18th May

  Victims of Blame Society

From the BBC

Attempts to close violent and extreme websites may be discussed at the next G8 summit of world leaders. Junior Home Office minister Paul Goggins said Home Secretary David Blunkett had discussed the subject with US officials during a recent visit.

Goggins was speaking in a Commons debate on restricting access to sites. The debate was welcomed by the mother of Jane Longhurst, who was murdered last year by a man who admitted an internet obsession with violent sites I'm hoping that this debate will help change the climate of opinion so it can be seen as a really absolutely dreadful thing. I would like to see that every website should be registered with a land address so that any websites which were contravening the laws could then be shut down or hit with meaningful fines.

The debate was called by Brighton MP David Lepper, who has helped the Longhurst family campaign for the outlawing of extreme sites since the murder.

MPs called for credit card companies to help combat such sites by refusing to provide a financial gateway to them and also said they wanted to see better blocking mechanisms built into computers.

Major changes to the Obscene Publications Act and increased powers and resources for the police were also suggested.

Goggins told MPs Mr Blunkett had raised the issue with American officials and said it could be discussed by the G8 group of leading industrialised nations. He said:
I can confirm that talks have continued since between officials and we are considering what scope there is for a wider initiative to influence how this issue is dealt with by other countries, specifically targeting these questions at the G8.

 

14th May

  Gnome Brained Police

From CNN Thanks to the Melon Farming Discussions

A Barnsley man has covered up his lewd garden gnomes with painted-on swimwear after police warned him he faced arrest for causing public offense.

While most garden gnomes fish or enact scenes of bucolic tranquility, ex-army Sgt. Tony Watson's models in the northern English town of Barnsley bared their breasts and buttocks, prompting complaints from the public.

It is an offense to display something that is insulting or likely to cause distress, a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday. (Well the police are displaying a distressing lack of judgement that insults my intelligence...perhaps it is the police who should be locked up)

Although some people view the gnomes as a bit of harmless fun, we have to take complaints from members of the public seriously.

One of the gnomes now sports a polka-dot bikini, said a local resident.

 

25th April

  A New Generation of Young Paedophiles?

The police have a long history of using obscure trivial laws when more obvious ones elude them. Anything to save face. Anyway I trust police to use discretion about as much as I trust soldiers to treat POWs with reasonable care.

From The Guardian

A boy convicted of having unlawful sex with a consenting girl when they were both 15 won permission yesterday to launch a high court challenge to a law he claims discriminates against males.

The teenager, E, from the Llandudno area, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will ask the court to declare the 1956 Sexual Offences Act incompatible with the European convention on human rights.

His counsel, Gareth Roberts, argued at the high court in London yesterday that it was unfair and discriminatory that when a boy and a girl under 16 had consensual sex "one becomes a victim and the other a criminal".

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Mr Justice Moses, ruled that the challenge should go to a full hearing, saying: "I take the view there is at least an arguable possibility of incompatibility between the Sexual Offences Act and articles 14 and eight of the convention."

Article 14 prohibits discrimination and article eight protects the right to privacy.

The judge said the courts could declare the act incompatible with the convention, but would not be able to quash the conviction by Llandudno magistrates last August - although E might be able to apply for a pardon.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003, which comes into force today, abolishes the discrimination between males and females for many sexual offences including the new offence of "sexual activity between minors".

There were attempts to have the offence removed from the bill during its passage through parliament, with critics saying it would criminalise normal teenage behaviour.

But the government said it should remain, to tackle behaviour that was exploitative or coercive even though it may have been consensual.

Guidance has been issued to prosecutors that prosecutions for sexual activity between under-16s is unlikely to be in the public interest, except where there is abuse - for example, a 15-year-old boy targeting a 12-year-old girl with predatory behaviour.

Prosecutions where boy and girl are the same age are unusual. The Crown Prosecution Service said prosecutions were brought only where there was evidence that the relationship was "abusive or exploitative".

Lord Justice Kay said there was no doubt that E, as a 15-year-old, had unlawful sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl in December 2002. The following day E was interviewed about an allegation of rape, but the girl denied that rape had taken place.

There was medical evidence that there had been penetrative sex and E was convicted in August 2003. A 12-month supervision order was imposed.

Lord Justice Kay said the magistrates had refused to state a case for the high court to consider the human rights issue. He ordered them to do so, even though the practical consequences for E, if he succeeds in his challenge, "may be extremely limited".

He said: I would grant permission so that this important point may properly be considered, once the magistrates have stated a case. Mr Justice Moses agreed.

 

25th April

  The Dog and Stag and Pig

From The Scotsman

Cinema bosses are considering ditching plans to screen a controversial pornographic film featuring bestiality after facing moves to impose especially tight licensing restrictions.

Filmhouse chiefs say they had planned to show the film from a "sociological" point of view but are now reviewing their plans. They said the move had come after police approached the council, prompting licensing chiefs to take a tough line.

The Good Old Naughty Days is a collection of some of the world’s first erotic movies and carries the R-18 classification for hardcore pornography.

The Filmhouse, on Lothian Road, had said it would screen the black-and-white collection of 12 short films, shot in France between 1905 and the late 1920s, providing the council gave the go-ahead. Rod White, cinema programmes director at the Filmhouse, had insisted the venue would "certainly" show the film if the council gave it clearance, insisting protests against the film were an "overreaction".

But today he said the Filmhouse was weighing up whether showing The Good Old Naughty Days was "worth the bother".

News that the film, which is currently being shown in arty cinemas in London, was set to come to the Capital, prompted a storm of protest from church leaders, politicians and anti-pornography campaigners this week. The only way the film could be shown would be for the Filmhouse to set up a special club where everyone would have photographic ID, no-one in the cinema could be under-18 and the council would have to give written permission, he said.

White added: We are in the process of deciding whether it’s worth the bother. We told the council we were going to be screening this film a while ago and they said it was OK, but now the police have been in touch with them and the council has changed its tune. I’m assuming it’s all the press the film has received. I also think our members would run a mile from this film and we are waiting to see what the figures are like in London before we decide what to do.

The Good Old Naughty Days was shown in London on Friday after it became the first movie to be given the R-18 rating by the BBFC and then go on commercial release in the UK.

A police spokeswoman said they were not currently investigating the possible screening, as they had not received any complaints. She said:
If we receive a complaint we will make inquiries, but we are not involved in any investigation into the possible showing of this film.

 

25th April

  The Dog and Stag

Toned down from The Sunday Herald

Nearly a century after a group of Parisian prostitutes, moonlighting film crews and brothel regulars got together to create some of the first porn films in history, the Gallic skin-flicks have arrived in Britain.

The selection of early French porn called Polissons et Galipettes (Rascals and Acrobatics), but released in the UK as The Good Old Naughty Days, was shown in London on Friday and is set to be screened in Edinburgh later this year. It will also be released nationwide on DVD and video.

Michel Reilhac, the filmmaker who compiled the XXX anthology, even says that one of the uncredited directors behind one of the short blue movies was acclaimed French director Jean Renoir. The films were shot between 1905 and the late 1920s.

While mainstream releases, such as Baise-Moi in 2000 and Intimacy in 2001 have pushed the boundaries in recent years, until now it was legally impossible to go into an ordinary British cinema or rent or buy an adult movie from anywhere other than a licensed sex shop which contained scenes showing erections, penetration or ejaculation.

The Good Old Naughty Days contains all three acts – in spades – even though the film is black-and-white and silent, apart from tinkly piano accompaniments. It now has the distinction of becoming the first movie to receive a R18 classification – until now reserved for sex shop and sex cinema releases – from the BBFC but go on commercial release in the UK.

But the film pushes even the boundaries of the R18 certificate – as The Good Old Naughty Days contains prolonged scenes of bestiality in which a man and woman perform with a Highland terrier.

The film leaves little to the imagination and is likely to trigger protests, especially from the religious community which could be particularly incensed by a scene featuring “nuns” being spied on by a pair of voyeuristic “priests”.

Reilhac said the film is a cultural curio which allows us to take a cheeky peek into the sex lives of our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. I was interested in the historical value of this material, This project was not designed to attract the usual audience of pornography.

Most of the blue movies were shot by film crews on their days off with the help of local prostitutes and their customers. They clips were mostly shown in brothels to pass the time for waiting customers. Many later fell into the hands of collectors of erotica.

The film was screened on Friday at The Other cinema in London, and The Filmhouse and Cameo cinemas in Edinburgh are considering showing it. Cinemas will require permission from their local council to air an R18 clip. This effectively turns a moviehouse into a members-only sex cinema, and buying a ticket is the equivalent to purchasing temporary membership.

Tartan Films, the company which is releasing The Good Old Naughty Days, is delighted with the film. Sarah Bemand, the company spokesperson, didn’t even have a problem with the scenes of bestiality. It’s legal to show it as the dog isn’t being abused, The dog is involved, but it is having fun.

Bemand said decisions on whether or not the film would be shown in Britain’s cities depended on “how liberal each council is”, however, the film will definitely be released on DVD.

Diane Henderson, general manager of the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh, said: We are considering screening it, but it is not yet in our programme. As it’s an R-18 we need council permission and we haven’t yet spoken to the council. But Edinburgh City Council is pretty progressive due to the Festival. We’d air it as a late-night movie, and if we did screen it we’d make it clear what it was about. It’s up to the public to decide if they want to see it. I don’t think this film is as shocking as it is being made out to be.”

Edinburgh City Council said it could authorise showings of The Good Old Naughty Days and had released films without official BBFC classification. They are judged on a case-by-case basis, and if authorised are shown at appropriate times and places , said a spokesman.

The BBFC says it had passed the film with no cuts.

 

21st April

  Euro Nutter Ignored

From The Scotsman

Euro MPs were tonight accused of “bottling out” of a major debate on sex in the run-up to the euro elections. The European Parliament was supposed to be debating calls to crack down on the boom in unsolicited pornography via the Internet.

A report compiled by Swedish MEP Marianne Eriksson warned that globalisation has caused an explosion in the sex industry. She wanted backing from tomorrow’s planned debate in Strasbourg for an official study into “the reasons behind the sexual behaviour of men”.

Her report only narrowly made it through the Parliament’s Women’s Rights Committee earlier this month to reach the debating chamber. Then, on Monday, MEPs voted at the last minute to remove the item – “The Consequences of the Sex Industry in the EU” – from the agenda.

Erikkson said she was very disappointed about a missed opportunity to discuss the sex industry’s power and influence in Europe – but not surprised. Some MEPs had “bottled out” she said, adding: I have still to understand what was it that frightened them so much.

Before the report was scuppered, Eriksson said the results of her study would contribute to establishing “an appropriate sexual education programme” in all EU countries. It pointed out that 70% of the £252million which EU citizens spent on the Internet in 2001 went to porn sites. The illegal sex industry is estimated to turn over more money annually than the total of all military budgets in the world – about five thousand billion pounds (£5,000billion).

“Pornography is often sexist, with stereotyped gender roles and a conservative, not to mention completely erroneous, view of women’s and men’s sexuality” said the report. It called for an end to “sexist advertising”, a ban on the promotion of pornography and prostitution in hotels, and a ban on sex businesses being quoted on the stock exchange in any EU country.

Now none of those demands will be pursued by MEPs – and Eriksson is not standing for re-election to the European Parliament in the June poll.

Her report has one last gasp before its demise: Erikkson has been invited to present it to a joint conference of national MPs and MEPs in Dublin on May 19: I am optimistic that the conference may take the report a little more seriously than it has been taken in the European Parliament she said.

 

7th April

  More Obscene Law

Pabo have German directors and supply from Holland and hence the supply side seems totally legal. Liverpool Trading Substandards seem to be contending that although the supply is perfectly legal then they are still not allowed to offer to supply by way of mail order or telephone order.

Pabo Limited were found guilty in this respect of 53 Summonses (20 having been previously withdrawn). The District Judge imposed a financial penalty in relation to solely the first Summons, namely £2,500 payable within 28 days. Trading Standards claimed costs of £22,314.29 and these were approved by the District Judge in their entirety.

 

6th April

  Obscene Law

Liverpool City Council v Interfact Limited

The issues of principle to be determined in this case are:

  1. whether a licensed sex shop can supply R18 videos by way of mail order ore telephone order or whether supply can only be made to a person physically present in the licensed sex shop.
  2. whether a licensed sex shop may offer to supply R18 videos by way of mail order or telephone order

Interfact Ltd lost the case, basically judge agreed with prosecution that the word "supply" is wider than "sale" so all the pro-arguments went out of the window

The net effect is:

  • No mail order R18's
  • No offer to supply mail order R18's (in our out of the country)

Surely Interfect will appeal this decision particularly as they hold a licence for mail order supply from the local authority in Barking

Pabo have German directors and supply from Holland and hence the supply side seems totally legal. Point 2 above is therefore crucial in that Liverpool Trading Substandards seem to be contending that although the supply is perfectly legal then they are still not allowed to offer to supply by way of mail order or telephone order.

Pabo are in court in Liverpool today

 

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Simply Adult
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