Earlier this month, the Coroners & Justice Bill 2009 received the Royal Assent. This Act was another of those portmanteau pieces of legislation for which the current government is famous, mixing up new regulations on the holding of inquests,
driving offences, provocation in murder cases and, crucially, a new law making it a criminal offence to be found in possession of an indecent cartoon image of a child.
The horror facing the unpopular Olympics logo is that this is a strict liability offence. If an image is indecent, or held to be so by a jury, it is no good the Olympic Committee claiming that it was not intended as such.
Regular readers will be aware of the controversy that surrounded the current logo since the day it was launched. Critics were not impressed by the £400,000 that had allegedly been shelled out to creative consultancy Wolff Olins to come up
with the design. However, it was the logo's perceived suggestiveness - with many sniggering that it appeared to show Lisa Simpson performing an act of fellatio - that excited internet controversy.
How the fuck are we expected
to know how old she is?
The UK Government bill introduced a clause in Coroners and Justice Bill to criminalise the possession of non photographic but pornographic images of children with draconian penalties of up to 3 years in prison.
This bill has now cleared all parliamentary hurdles with hardly any meaningful debate whatsoever. A couple of half hearted concerns that the bill may criminalise thousands of innocent people (Eg Hentai fans) were glossed over on a one in million
possibility that paedophiles may work around existing prohibitions via use of animation.
Freedom of Speech rightfully retained for Religions to Spout Hateful Nonsense
Other portions of the bill caused a little more debate:
Yesterday the Government was forced to accept Tory Peer Lord Waddington's free speech clause which says that criticising homosexual conduct is not, in itself, a crime.
An offence of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation was introduced by the Government last year, but the free speech defence, strongly opposed by the House of Commons, was inserted by former Home Secretary Waddington.
The latest round of votes took place this week with MPs voting to delete the clause on Monday and Peers voting to keep it.
Peers supported the clause by 179 votes to 135. In the House of Commons the Justice Secretary Jack Straw accepted the Lords vote. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the government was very disappointed at the Lords vote, adding: There is no doubt about the threshold of this offence. No freedom of expression section is needed to explain it. The threshold is a high one. The offence only covers words or behaviour that are threatening and intended to stir up hatred.
But she added the government could no longer delay the passage of the Coroners Bill. It is with considerable disappointment, therefore, that the government has agreed not to remove the freedom of expression section.
Christian Concern for our Nation is urging Christians to pray and act against a Bill passing through Parliament that could lead to the legalisation of assisted suicide and the removal of a free speech protection clause in relation to sexual
The Coroners and Justice Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on June 23 and may go to vote the following day.
Under current law, Christians have the right to discuss, criticise and urge abstinence from certain forms of sexual conduct.
CCFON has warned that if the Bill is passed, it will: open the door to police investigation of Christians for merely commenting on the Christian viewpoint on sexual conduct and thereby prohibit the preaching of the Gospel.
CCFON is urging Christians to sign its Life & Liberty, which will be delivered to the Queen, Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Lords. The petition asks them to protect the value of human life by opposing proposed amendments
authorising state-sanctioned assisted suicide and to protect freedom of speech by retaining the free speech clause within the sexual orientation hatred offence.
CCFON is also inviting Christians to join in a prayer meeting in Westminster on June 22.
The Dangerous Cartoons offence was up for debate at the 2nd Reading of the Coroners and Justice Bill in the House of Lords on 18th May 2009. It didn't get much of a look in though.
There were a total of three references noted to the dangerous drawings offence and they are thus:
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff:
From 1997 to 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation achieved a 17 per cent fall in child pornography sites through monitoring. I am glad that the Government have included in the Bill provisions on pseudo-photography of
children. That inclusion is essential for this work, as some really disturbing images are emerging, particularly out of Japan.
Clauses 54 to 58 deal with prohibited images of children. We entirely accept the necessity for these clauses in the Bill.
Lord Henley complained that there was no debate on the drawings offence in the Commons - but was part of a much larger complaint about the lack of debate on the whole Bill: he gave no opinion either way.
The government could be planning to up the ante when it comes to material it doesn't approve of - it may become illegal to even look at images, not merely possess them.
Some odd, ambiguous remarks by Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions, raise this gruesome possibility. Evidence for it emerged from an elliptical exchange between Starmer and Jenny Willott, Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central during the
committee stage of the Coroners and Justice Bill.
Miss Willott has clearly done her homework. She noted that whilst the Internet Watch Foundation focuses on images that can be downloaded – the traditional web route – images accessed through other means, such as streaming, are not within its
remit. She asked Mr Starmer: If someone is watching streaming images online, there would be no actual copy on their computer, so they would not technically be in possession.
He replied: It would be for the courts to interpret the meaning of possession. We would proceed on the basis that there should be no such loophole.
Coroners and Justice Bill Committee Stage
House of Commons
The Coroners and Justice Bill - which will criminalise possession of all sexual images of under-18s - is currently being debated in committee.
There's some mention at:
Witnesses from the NSPCC and Barnardo's . Jenny Willott asks for evidence that such pictures cause harm. Both witnesses say they were not there to talk about this part of the bill. There's then some discussion as to whether viewing an
image online would count as "possession", although no real answer is given.
See here also .
It's sad that there's no real criticism - no mention of how the hell you tell the age of a fictional cartoon character, or how the law is so broad it will criminalise far more than those images intended for pedophiles...
New laws supposedly designed to tackle extreme and child pornography could make owning mainstream comics like Batman or Judge Dredd illegal, campaigners claim.
They are protesting against two pieces of legislation. The first, is the Dangerous Pictures clause of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, already in force.
The second is the Coroners and Justice Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament. It will introduce a similar law banning the possession of any image involving sexual activity and children. For the purpose of the law, an image is said
to contain a child if the impression conveyed ... is that the person shown is a child. [ie under 18 years old]
The comic book campaigners claim that if the new rules are interpreted harshly, their hobby could be criminalised.
In a statement,
ComicShopVoice a comic fans' website, said of the rules outlawing sexual violence: Isn't that how Batman, Punisher, Judge Dredd get anything done? A kick in the balls or a--- would constitute this, and a kick in the balls is a well
trodden part of humour.
It added that the new law on images of children would make owning some comic books, and particularly some forms of Manga - the Japanese form often featuring young-looking cartoon characters - illegal.
The statement added: Because this is a minefield for the law it then falls on the Police to enforce it, and it is their judgement that could lead to a prosecution.
We COULD get to a point where the police could legitimately visit your home or workplace, and sanctioned by an un-elected magistrate or judge go through your collection and if they find any comic book that they feel will cause sexual arousal or
displays extreme violence then they could arrest you.
Calling on comic book fans to lobby their MPs, the group added: What is frightening about this law is that it gives [the Government] carte blanche to invade our lives, to shut down our comic shops and ultimately it could lead to censorship of
books and films as well.
Film adaptations of graphic novels such as Zack Snyder's 300 and the upcoming Watchmen mean that graphic novels are growing ever more popular.
They're not just in dingy comic book shops anymore but on the shelves in Waterstones and Borders. So is it right that they are now under threat by government anti-pornography legislation?
There are two bills in parliament at the moment that, if successful, could make the possession of "extreme pornographic images" an offence.
An "extreme image" is defined in The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act as one that is "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character". So far, so good, right? That all sounds normal enough, but
thereนs a sting in the tail for unsuspecting readers of the graphic novel: "and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real." Thereนs a similar set of rules for child
pornography. So, in a nutshell, if it looks like it's real (i.e. it's well drawn), then you can be prosecuted for owning it.
No mention of such fundamental issues as level of realism or the vagueness of depicted age. As it stands a simple stick drawing could get you 3 years in jail.
The new Dangerous Pictures of Children Bill is described by the government in their explanatory notes for the Coroners and Justice Bill
Clause 49: Prohibited images
Subsection (1) creates a new offence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland of possession of a prohibited image of a child.
Subsections (2) to (8) set out the definition of a prohibited image of a child . Under subsection (2) in order to be a prohibited image, an image must be:
fall within subsection (6) and
be grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
The definition of “pornographic” is set out in subsection (3). An image must be of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or mainly for the purpose of sexual arousal.
Whether this threshold has been met will be an issue for a jury to determine.
Subsection (4) makes it clear that where (as found in a person’s possession) an individual image forms part of a series of images, the question of whether it is pornographic must be determined by reference both to the
image itself and the context in which it appears in the series of images.
Subsection (5) provides that, where an image is integral to a narrative (for example a mainstream or documentary film) which when it is taken as a whole could not reasonably be assumed to be pornographic, the image itself may be not be
pornographic, even though if considered in isolation the contrary conclusion would have been reached.
Subsection (6) and (7) provide that a prohibited image for the purposes of the offence is one which focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region or portrays any of a list of acts set out in subsection (7):
(a) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
(b) an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;
(c) an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(d) an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(e) the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);
(f) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.
Subsection (8) provides that for the purposes of subsection (7) penetration is a continuing act from entry to withdrawal.
Subsection (9) requires proceedings to be instituted by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Clause 50: Exclusion of classified film, etc
This clause provides an exclusion from the scope of the offence under clause 49 for excluded images.
An “excluded image” is defined in subsection (2) as an image which forms part of a series of images contained in a recording of the whole or part of a classified work. A “recording” is defined in subsection (7) as any
disc, tape or other device capable of storing data electronically and from which images may be produced. This therefore includes images held on a computer. A classified work is a video work in respect of which a classification certificate has
been issued by an authority designated under section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984.
The effect of the exclusion is that a person who has a video recording of a film which has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), and which contains images that, despite their context, might amount to a
“prohibited image of a child” for the purposes of the clause 49 offence, will not be liable for prosecution for the offence.
However, the effect of subsection (3) is that the exclusion from the scope of the offence does not apply in respect of images contained within extracts from classified films which must reasonably be assumed to have been extracted solely or
principally for the purpose of sexual arousal. Essentially the exemption for an image forming part of a classified work is lost where the image is extracted from that work for pornographic purposes. Subsection (7) defines “extract” to
include a single image.
Subsection (4) provides that when an extracted image is one of a series of images, in establishing whether or not it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been extracted for the purpose of sexual arousal, regard is to be
had to the image itself and to the context it which it appears in the series of images. This is the same test as set out in subsection (4) of clause 49. Subsection (5) of clause 49 also applies in determining this question.
The effect of subsection (5) is that, in determining whether a recording is a recording of a whole or part of a classified work, alterations due to technical reasons (such as a failure in the recording system), due to inadvertence (such as
setting the wrong time for a recording) or due to the inclusion of extraneous material (such as advertisements), are to be disregarded.
Subsection (6) makes it clear that nothing in clause 50 affects any duty of a designated authority to take into account the offence in clause 49 when considering whether to issue a classification certificate in respect of a
Subsection (7) sets out the definitions used in this section. Subsection (8) states that section 22(3) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 applies. The effect of section 22(3) is that where, an alteration is made to a video work in respect of which
a classification certificate has been issued, the classification certificate does not apply to the altered work.
Clause 51: Defences
348. This clause sets out a series of defences to the clause 49 offence of possession of prohibited images of children. These defences are set out in subsection (1). They are the same as those for the offence of possession of indecent images of
children under section 160(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
that the person had a legitimate reason for being in possession of the image (this will cover those who can demonstrate that their legitimate business means that they have a reason for possessing the image);
that the person had not seen the image and did not know, or have reasonable cause to suspect, that the images held were prohibited images of children (this will cover those who are in possession of offending images but are
unaware of the nature of the images); and
that the person had not asked for the image - it having been sent without request - and that he or she had not kept it for an unreasonable period of time (this will cover those who are sent unsolicited material and who act
quickly to delete it or otherwise get rid of it).
349. Subsection (2) provides that “prohibited image” in this clause has the same meaning as in clause 49.
Clause 52: Meaning of “image” and “child”
Subsection (1) defines “image” and “child” for the purposes of clauses 49, 50 and 51.
Subsection (2) sets out the definition of an image. It states that for the purposes of this offence, “an image” includes still images such as photographs, or moving images such as those in a film. The term “image” also
incorporates any type of data, including that stored electronically (as on a computer disk), which is capable of conversion into an image. This covers material available on computers, mobile phones or any other electronic device.
Subsection (3) provides that “image” does not include an indecent photograph or indecent pseudo-photograph of a child, as these are subject to other controls.
Subsection (4) defines “indecent photograph” and “indecent pseudo-photograph” in accordance with the Protection of Children Act 1978.
Subsection (5) defines a child to be a person under 18 years of age.
Subsection (6) requires that a person in an image is to be treated as a child if the impression conveyed by the image is that the person shown is a child, or the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact
that some of the physical characteristics shown are not of a child.
Subsection (7) provides that references to an image of a person include references to an imaginary person, and subsection (8) makes it clear that references to an image of a child include references to an imaginary child.
Clause 53: Penalties
The penalties that will apply to persons found guilty of an offence under clause 49 are set out in this clause. In England and Wales and Northern Ireland on conviction on indictment the maximum sentence is imprisonment for three years.
The maximum sentence on summary conviction of the offence in England and Wales is six months’ imprisonment. On the commencement of section 154(1) of the 2003 Act, the maximum sentence on summary conviction in England and Wales will rise to
12 months (see paragraph 13(1) of Schedule 20 to the Bill). The maximum custodial penalty on summary conviction in Northern Ireland is six months.
Clause 54: Entry, search, seizure and forfeiture
Subsection (1) applies the entry, search, seizure and forfeiture powers of the Protection of Children Act 1978 to prohibited images of children. Subsection (2) applies the equivalent Northern Ireland legislation.
Subsection (3) applies these powers to prohibited images to which clause 49 applies.
Paragraph 13(2) of Schedule 20 to the Bill provides that these powers of forfeiture have effect regardless of when the images were lawfully seized.
Clause 55 and Schedule 11: Special rules relating to providers of information society services
362. Clause 55 and Schedule 11 ensure that the provisions outlined above which make it an offence to possess prohibited images of children are consistent with the UK’s obligations under the E-Commerce Directive.
363. Under Schedule 11 providers of information society services who are established in England, Wales or Northern Ireland are covered by the new offence even when they are operating in other European Economic Area states. Paragraphs 3 to 5 of
the Schedule provide exemptions for internet service providers from the offence of possession of prohibited images of children in limited circumstances, such as where they are acting as mere conduits for such material or are storing it as caches
How the fuck are we expected
to know how old she is?
New Parliament, new legislation – and time for the government’s favourite pastime of closing loopholes. This time it's about even more dangerous pictures, or maybe less dangerous, given that the subject matter is - allegedly -
The government last week proposed, via s49 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, to make illegal the possession of prohibited images of children. This sub-title – as so much else about government legislation in this area – is
seriously misleading, since the images to be prohibited will in future be anything but images of children.
How the fuck are we expected
to know how old she is?
The appalling Coroners and Injustice Bill just published includes a provision to criminalise any images of people apparently aged less than 18 years old.
How people can be criminalised for drawings or cartoons etc for non real representations above the age of consent is beyond me. It is not as if there is any justification via claiming exploitation of real young people.
The Dangerous Cartoons law is based up the Dangerous Pictures act where possession of pornographic (non photographic) images is criminalised in the same scale of up to 3 years in jail. Similar defences are also available such as per
the Dangerous Pictures Act. (Unknowing possession, BBFC certification etc)
(Note that real photos and pseudo photos are excluded because a more serious offence already exists and is more widely defined to include merely indecent pictures)