It seems likely that the government thought that passing a new law on extreme porn would be the last word on the matter. Recent events in Birmingham suggest that this may not quite be the case.
On Sunday 14 June a delegation of people from the Consenting Adult Action Network (C.A.A.N.) went to West Midlands police headquarters in Birmingham to seek advice about just what material might be covered.
A spokesperson for this group explained that they took with them a range of works, representing both fantasy and real acts of harm or danger by various photographers, both professional and amateur. Their portfolio included work by noted erotic artists
China Hamilton and Bob Flanagan.
The police could not help much and added that it was not uncommon for the Police to receive as little as two weeks warning of imminent changes to the Law. Therefore no real advice could be provided until they had received official guidance from either
the Crown Prosecution Service or government.
During debate on this law in parliament, Harry Cohen, MP, was very concerned to ensure that it used clear definitions, to ensure the public would know when they were breaking it. He is therefore unimpressed by the possibility that the timetable for
information could be so tight.
Speaking exclusively to The Register, he commented: this reasonable request for police advice met with an incredulous, unaware and uninformed response. This is not satisfactory and in my opinion both the Home Office and the police should get together
well before the law comes into force in order to give proper advice when specifically asked by those trying not to be the wrong side of the new law.
Question: what do Lady Chatterley’s Lover , Last Exit to Brooklyn and Inside Linda Lovelace have in common? Answer: they were all subject to failed prosecutions under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 & 1964 (OPA).
Next question: what do the Protection of Children Act 1978, the Video Recordings Act 1984, the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the Criminal Justice Act 2008 have in common? Answer: they are all attempts to circumvent the OPA, whose provisions the
censorious have long agitated against as overly liberal and ‘permissive’.
Thanks to the last of these measures, those suspected of possessing the ‘wrong’ kind of pornography can now look forward to having their homes and offices trashed by the police and their reputations publicly dragged through the mud; if convicted, they
could languish for up to three years in prison. So how did we arrive at this extraordinary state of affairs?
Come with us to get advice about BDSM images, or support
Print or email images for us to get advice about on an action
Tell people you know or take flyers to local adult events this month to get more people involved
Talk to the press on the day
Donate resources (eg paper, stamps) or time to get this off the ground behind the scenes (CAAN is new & unfunded)
Phone West Midlands Police (0845 113 5000) from 12:00 on the day and ask them for advice, or assurance that images of consensual activities between adults will not be criminalised
Maybe you know another way to join in. Let us know!
THERE WILL BE AN ACTION EVERY MONTH.
We’re creating a template for actions around the country, until this law is enforced, stopped, or we get assurances that consensual adult images will not lead to prison sentences. Please get involved.
Despite lack of evidence, government and West Midlands Police claim banning violent porn will reduce sex crime. We don't agree and on 7th May protests were held in London at the British Library and Houses of Parliament. Study after study shows the
positive effect of porn on our society, however West Midlands Police DS Keith Wharton said in consultation,
“Those pushing the boundaries are time and time again leading to criminal offences against children and animals and although empirical data is poor those probation officers who I work with who are part of the sexual rehabilitation programme see
pornography, especially of an extreme nature, as 'throwing fuel on the fire'... A ten year sentence is not excessive.”
Will West Midlands police enforce this law fairly, given their biased anti evidence approach?
Extreme Law Bans BDSM Images.
On May 8th 2008, the government passed legislation criminalising the personal possession of 'extreme' and 'disgusting' pornography. Provisions 64 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 come into effect in January 2009. Convictions will
carry up to 3 years jail sentence and inclusion on the Sex Offender Register, even if the pictures are of your partner. Just because the police think the pictures are extreme.
What does extreme mean?
Despite concessions from the government concerning some images of legal activities in which the owner can be proved to feature, this law will still make criminal fantasy images involving consensual acts between adults – whether or not the act was staged:
for example 'realistic' pictures that look like acts which threaten life such as strangulation or serious harm to breasts, anus or genitals. Could this also mean sex without a condom, fisting, sex while smoking? Lobby group www.backlash-uk.org.uk , an
umbrella group of organisations, has been opposing this law since its inception. Now we also need to act on our own behalf.
We need advice.
Many of us need advice about whether books and images we own are illegal, or not, if we don't want to be criminalised. We want to talk to some the organisations which have advised the Government during consultation. We need to show how ridiculous this
law is and try to interrupt its commencement by making our confusion and concerns more obvious.
Let's go and get it!
It's time to take action to prevent our civil liberties and ourselves from falling foul of this legislation. If we go together to get advice about images we own there's safety in numbers and we can share the information we get with each other and the
wider public. The Ministry of Justice says it will give us more guidance about what is illegal closer to the date but we need to ready ourselves now.
Last month a US court ruled that border agents can search your laptop, or any other electronic device, when you're
entering the country. But the US is not alone. British customs agents search laptops for pornography. And there are reports on the internet of this sort of thing happening at other borders, too. You might not like it, but it's a fact. So how do you
Encrypting your entire hard drive, something you should certainly do for security in case your computer is lost or stolen, won't work here. The border agent is likely to start this whole process with a please type in your password . Of course you
can refuse, but the agent can search you further, detain you longer, refuse you entry into the country and otherwise ruin your day.
You're going to have to hide your data. Set a portion of your hard drive to be encrypted with a different key - even if you also encrypt your entire hard drive - and keep your sensitive data there. Lots of programs allow you to do this. I use PGP Disk
(from pgp.com). TrueCrypt (truecrypt.org) is also good, and free.
While customs agents might poke around on your laptop, they're unlikely to find the encrypted partition. (You can make the icon invisible, for some added protection.) And if they download the contents of your hard drive to examine later, you won't care.
Be sure to choose a strong encryption password. Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect solution. Your computer might have left a copy of the password on the disk somewhere, and smart forensic software will find it.
So your best defence is to clean up your laptop. A customs agent can't read what you don't have. You don't need five years' worth of email and client data. You don't need your old love letters and those photos (you know the ones I'm talking about).
Delete everything you don't absolutely need. And use a secure file erasure program to do it. While you're at it, delete your browser's cookies, cache and browsing history. It's nobody's business what websites you've visited. And turn your computer off -
don't just put it to sleep - before you go through customs; that deletes other things. Think of all this as the last thing to do before you stow your electronic devices for landing. Some companies now give their employees forensically clean laptops for
travel, and have them download any sensitive data over a virtual private network once they've entered the country. They send any work back the same way, and delete everything again before crossing the border to go home. This is a good idea if you can do
Lastly, don't forget your phone and PDA. Customs agents can search those too: emails, your phone book, your calendar. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do here except delete things.
I know this all sounds like work, and that it's easier to just ignore everything here and hope you don't get searched. Today, the odds are in your favour. But new forensic tools are making automatic searches easier and easier, and the recent US court
ruling is likely to embolden other countries. It's better to be safe than sorry.
The article provides that the Government or a public authority cannot deprive a person of their property unless the law allows this and it is necessary in the public interest to do so. The Government must strike a fair balance
between the interests of the property owner and the general interest of society as a whole. If your property is taken away you should be entitled to compensation.
I don't suppose that most dangerous images have much value but those with dangerous art may like to research the possibilities.
Backlash have asked a few useful questions of the Ministry of Injustice re the Dangerous Pictures Act.
In particular the commencement date has not actually been announced, even though reported by the BBC as January.
From a letter from the Ministry of Injustice
First in respect of the “Sex Offenders'
Register”, it is the case that offenders will be subject to notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 if they are 18 or over but only if they are sentenced to two years'
imprisonment or more. This is towards the top of the scale for an offence where the maximum penalty is three years'
imprisonment, i.e. in respect of violent images, and at the very top in the case of an extreme image in the less severe categories i.e. bestiality and necrophilia. Such a sentence would reflect the concerns of the Court about particular aspects of
a case, such as the amount and severity of the material or the number of previous convictions.
You have also asked when the law will take effect, whether clearer guidance will be issued on what material will be illegal and what the implications will be for people who have images on their computer which were legal to possess before the law came
The law will be implemented by Commencement Order. Whilst we are aware that some press reports have suggested a commencement date of January 2009, the implementation plan is still being finalised and therefore the date for commencement has still to be
confirmed. We will do so as soon as possible. New criminal offences are not normally brought into force for at least two months after enactment and this period is often significantly longer given the need to ensure those likely to be affected by the
measure are aware of it, and the police and other agencies have guidance on its operation. An explanation of the offence will be made available closer to the time of implementation but, as a general rule, BDSM material that is currently legal to publish
under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 should not be affected by the new legislation. Beyond that, the details of the material covered by the offence are given within Sections 63-67 of the Act itself.
Update: January Back On
The MOJ now informs us that the planning date for bringing provisions 64 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 into force is January 2009. This date is indicative only at this stage and is subject to confirmation nearer the time.
It said further guidance or advice will also be given closer to that time.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act has completed its 3rd reading in the House of Commons and has received Royal Assent so becomes law.
According to BBC Newsbeat, the Dangerous Pictures clauses will be enacted from January 2009.
John Beyer, Director of Mediawatch UK, and supporter of even stricter measures on pornography Said: It is important for there to be clear divide between what is legal and what is not. People need to know. Contrary to the views expressed by
protesters, he feels the new law provides that clarity on extreme material. But there may be a need for an amnesty, during which the public are able to hand in any material that could be considered a crime to possess. The last thing anybody would want
is for the police to be raiding people's homes.
The maximum penalty for obscene publications has also been raised from 3 years to 5 years in prison.
The Dangerous Pictures clauses went unamended but the Government backed down and allowed a free speech protection to be written into its proposed 'homophobic hatred' clauses.
The decision came after the Government was defeated for a second time in the House of Lords. Peers voted 178 to 164 in favour of the protection.
This marks the end of a lengthy battle to make clear that the new criminal offence should not interfere with free speech or religious liberty.
The amendment says, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir
Words or behaviour which are threatening and intended to stir up hatred will be caught by the offence, which carries a maximum seven year prison sentence.
Speaking in last night's debate, Lord Waddington said: My understanding is that the Government do not wish to see discussion stifled and people harassed, bullied, interrogated and sometimes arrested for expressing their views. However, if that is so,
it really is time that they did something about it.
Senior judge and 'gay rights' sympathiser, Dame Butler-Sloss, agreed that free speech needed protecting. She said: ...there are religious groups, not only Christians, not only bishops, but many Jews and Muslims, which share strong views that they gain
from the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, or the Koran. Those people are potentially at risk.
She continued: It is those people who will potentially be intimidated; they will certainly be bothered and may go through an extremely unfortunate experience before calmer heads point out that under the new clause, as under older clauses, they have
not committed any offence.
The Government said the issue could be made clear by publishing guidance instead of inserting a free speech protection into the Bill. But Lord Clarke said: If we mean that we are to maintain the principle of free speech, we should make sure that it is
in this Bill and not leave it to the interpretation of guidelines, which would become another lawyers' paradise.
Following the Lords vote, the Government backed down and the measure was passed by a substantial majority in the Commons. The offence will become law with the free speech protection included.
Concerned members of the public took their lobbying to the streets on 7th May outside the British Library and Houses of Parliament, in advance of the Royal Assent of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill
Protestors at the British Library talked to a journalist from Radio 1. Showing her an image from Madonna's book SEX, they talked about how they weren't sure if some posed photographs in Madonna's book might be illegal, due to the vague wording of
significant parts of sections 62-64 of the Bill and the lack of clarity about how this law is going to be interpreted in court. One person commented I can't seek advice from a solicitor every time I look at an erotic image! .
Leaflets were peacefully shared with people entering and leaving the Library while a few protestors moved outside to symbolically burn a page from a book they believe likely to be banned under the new law.
Later the demonstration moved to Parliament Square, where objectors distributed more leaflets and cheered as passing cars honked their horns to show support at their placards being waved.
Small crowds also gathered as two women staged a pink-fluffy-handcuffing and 'strangulation' on the Parliament railings, as their interpretation of the kind of things the government's definition of 'extreme' might include, were it similarly acted out in
a pornographic setting.
Campaigners believe that it not the Law's business to dictate what images consenting adults may choose to view for the purposes of arousal if no actual crime is taking place in that image, and are surprised the government has made no clear distinction
between actual and staged scenarios.
To put it another way: if you wish to know where this government is going wrong, you have only to look at their shiny new Criminal
Justice Bill. Take, for instance, the bit about "extreme porn".
Now is not the place to re-rehash the many arguments against it. But the devil is in the detail. Once this Bill is Law, you could go to jail for up to three years for possessing an image of an action that is not itself illegal.
The mother of the murdered Jane Longhurst has spoken of her joy as a bill banning extreme pornography is due to become law.
The Criminal Justice Bill, championed by Jane'
s mum Liz Longhurst and Martin Salter MP, is due to receive Royal Assent tomorrow, making it part of the law.
Mrs Longhurst told the Post her daughter would be proud of what her mum had achieved: I am really very delighted it is due to be passed, but I don'
t think it is a magic bullet.
The law is the start of good things, but I think it will be difficult to enforce. But I want the legislation on the books even though it might be difficult to enforce.
If someone else is murdered and it can be shown the murder is due to extreme violent internet pornography, I think the police will take a strong interest.
I think Jane would be proud. Martin and I have done it between us. Martin has had most of the right contacts, but he couldn'
t have done it without me and I could not have done it without him.
I think the law probably is censorship, but you have to think of the greater good. Far be it for me to deprive people of what they see as harmless fun, but any site which can encourage a person to commit murder or GBH is bad.
Salter, who has promised to take Mrs Longhurst for a “slap up meal” at the House of Commons to celebrate the bill'
s assent, said: I am absolutely thrilled this law has been passed. But most of all I am delighted for Liz. If we can reduce some peoples'
temptation to watch violent images, including rape and mutilation, then that is a good thing. It is also important we protect the women who are in these videos.
The passing of a new law criminalising the possession of extreme pornography is about to take the ‘thought police'
out of the realm of fiction.
The shame once associated with looking at dirty pictures has fallen away since porn moved into the mainstream, around the time of Madonna's Sex book. With the rise of the internet there can be few adults in the UK who have not seen some porn, somewhere.
But all of these people could soon, without knowing it, be breaking the law. This week, with little fanfare or media debate, the Labour government finally puts on to the statute book its Criminal Justice and Immigration bill, which creates a new offence
of possessing "extreme pornography". The bill is based on a joint Home Office/Scottish Executive consultation on the possession of extreme pornographic material undertaken in 2005/06, and though this bill is for England and Wales, the law in
Scotland is likely to follow suit.
So what could possibly be wrong with banning something as forbidding as "extreme pornography"? First, it's unworkable. Second, it will be ineffective in targeting the genuine problem of sexual violence in society. And third, it's undesirable in
itself because it reverses an important liberal trend of recent times - society's acknowledgement of the right of consenting adults to indulge their private desires and fantasies without the interference of the state, as long as they do so without
Great article by McNair. The Sunday Herald is, of course a Scottish newspaper. The DPA won't apply in Scotland unless the Scottish
Parliament decides that it should.
The Scottish Parliament isn't controlled by Labour. Maybe Scottish opponents of this nasty legislation should start writing to their MSP.
Wouldn't it be splendid if Gordon Brownshirt's own constituents didn't have to fear three years' porridge?
Comment: Fascists Aren't All Bad
10th May 2008. Thanks to Alan
If you ever visit Salo' (as in the Pasolini film that it might be dangerous to own under the DPA), you can have a coffee in the Bar Nero, which also includes a little museum of
(website in Italian).
When I dropped in, I noticed an interesting exhibit, and the barman immediately offered me a photocopy. It was a list of prices for 1938 in a "Casa di Tolleranza", a brothel licensed by the Italian state, complete with the "fasce
littoriale" symbol of the Fascist Party.
Whatever Mussolini's faults, he evidently didn't try to police sexual morality like Mactaggart and company.
As mentioned in the House of Lords yesterday, Baroness Howe and others in both houses are calling for a Select Committee on new
media and violence.
This apparently has growing momentum. They are asking us to do all we can outside the House to match the efforts inside the House. This means writing letters as organisations and asking our readers to do the same.
Please support these efforts in whatever way you can.
Comment: Sheep Shagging
Thanks to Alan
Someone has questioned the wisdom of the idea of a select committee, since Lady (Elspeth) Howe is not exactly liberal in her views about censorship.
However, since her husband (Geoffrey Howe) was famously compared to a dead sheep, she may feel that the DPA threatens her own intimate activities!
Hard luck for those jailed in the UK for owning an image of a legal act
Based on article
from the BBC
. Also worth reading the lively reader comments
A bill outlawing the possession of "extreme pornography" is set to become law next week. But many fear it has been rushed through and will criminalise innocent people with a harmless taste for unconventional sex.
Five years ago Jane Longhurst, a teacher from Brighton, was murdered. It later emerged her killer had been compulsively accessing websites such as Club Dead and Rape Action, which contained images of women being abused and violated. When Graham Coutts
was jailed for life Jane Longhurst's mother, Liz, began a campaign to ban the possession of such images.
Until now pornographers, rather than consumers, have needed to operate within the confines of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act (OPA). While this law will remain, the new act is designed to reflect the internet age, when pornographic images may be hosted
on websites outside the UK.
Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer - who is responsible under the OPA - to the consumer.
But campaigners say the new law risks criminalising thousands of people who use violent pornographic images as part of consensual sexual relationships.
People like Helen, who by day works in an office in the Midlands, and enjoys being sexually submissive and occasionally watching pornography, portrayed by actors, which could be banned under the new legislation. She feels the new law is an over-reaction
to the Longhurst case: Mrs Longhurst sees this man having done this to her daughter and she wants something to blame and rather than blame this psychotic man she wants to change the law but she doesn't really understand the situation. Do you
ban alcohol just because some people are alcoholics?
She has an ally in Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a Liberal Democrat peer who has fought to have the legislation amended.
Obviously anything that leads to violence against women has to be taken very seriously, says Baroness Miller: But you have to be very careful about the definition of 'extreme pornography' and they have not nearly been careful enough.
She has suggested the new act adopt the legal test set out in the OPA, which bans images which tend to deprave and corrupt.
But the government has sought to broaden the definition and the bill includes phrases such as an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person's life.
Speaking from her home in Berkshire, Mrs Longhurst acknowledges that libertarians see her as a horrible killjoy. I'm not. I do not approve of this stuff but there is room for all sorts of different people... BUT... anything which is
going to cause damage to other people needs to be stopped.
To those who fear the legislation might criminalise people who use violent pornography as a harmless sex aid, she responds with a blunt hard luck.
There is no reason for this stuff. I can't see why people need to see it. People say what about our human rights but where are Jane's human rights?
Baroness Miller says the new law threatens people's privacy: The government is effectively walking into people's bedrooms and saying you can't do this. It's a form of thought police.
She says there's a danger of criminalising kinkiness and fears the legislation has been rushed through Parliament without proper debate because it is a small part of a wider bill.
Deborah Hyde, of Backlash, an umbrella group of anti-censorship and alternative sexuality pressure groups, has similar concerns: How many tens or hundreds or thousands of people are going to be dragged into a police station, have their homes turned
upside down, their computers stolen and their neighbours suspecting them of all sorts?
Such "victims" won't feel able to fight the case and will take a caution, before there are enough test cases to prove that this law is unnecessary and unworkable.
Another opponent of the new law is Edward Garnier, an MP and part-time judge, who questioned the clause when it was debated in the Commons.
M y primary concern is the vagueness of the offence, says Garnier: It was very subjective and it would not be clear to me how anybody would know if an offence had been committed.
Opponents have also seized on what they see as an ideological schism in the new law, noted by Lord Wallace of Tankerness during last week's debate in the House of Lords.
If no sexual offence is being committed it seems very odd indeed that there should be an offence for having an image of something which was not an offence. Having engaged in it consensually would not be a crime, but to have a photograph of it
in one's possession would be a crime. That does not seem to make sense to me.
Amendments to the Criminal Injustice Act have been tabled for the 3rd Reading
Baroness Miller and Lord Wallace have suggested that dangerous pictures should be defined as both violent and legally obscene. They have also proposed reducing the maximum sentence from 3 to 2 years.
The evil Lord Hunt has proposed a minor exemption. Those participating in the dangerous pictures and hence knowing that they were produced legally would be exempt. Surely a recipe for injustice as the same images would be legal for some to own and
illegal for others
BARONESS MILLER OF CHILTHORNE DOMER
LORD WALLACE OF TANKERNESS
Page 49, line 31, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—
"(b) is obscene as defined by section 1 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (c. 66) (test of obscenity)."
After Clause 64
THE LORD HUNT OF KINGS HEATH
Insert the following new Clause—
"Defence: participation in consensual acts
(1) This section applies where—
(a) a person ("D") is charged with an offence under section 62, and
(b) the offence relates to an image that portrays an act or acts within paragraphs (a) to (c) (but none within paragraph (d)) of subsection (7) of that section.
(2) It is a defence for D to prove—
(a) that D directly participated in the act or any of the acts portrayed, and
(b) that the act or acts did not involve the infliction of any non-consensual harm on any person, and
(c) if the image portrays an act within section 62(7)(c), that what is portrayed as a human corpse was not in fact a corpse.
(3) For the purposes of this section harm inflicted on a person is "non-consensual" harm if—
(a) the harm is of such a nature that the person cannot, in law, consent to it being inflicted on himself or herself; or
(b) where the person can, in law, consent to it being so inflicted, the person does not in fact consent to it being so inflicted."
BARONESS MILLER OF CHILTHORNE DOMER
LORD WALLACE OF TANKERNESS
Page 52, line 3, leave out subsections (2) to (4) and insert—
"(2) A person guilty of an offence under section 62 is liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;
(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years."
LORD HUNT OF KINGS HEATH
Page 52, line 8, leave out "depict" and insert "portray"
The register is carrying a headline story about the recent failure to pass amendments to the Dangerous Pictures Act in the Lords:
As matters stand, there are two serious issues with the proposal.
The first is the wholly uncertain scope of the offence. Experts reckon that up to two million people could have such images on their computers – often unaware that they breach the law. In many instances, pictures could be downloaded to cache the moment
an individual opens a blog. They might not even be aware of what they had downloaded: but they would have a very hard time proving that. This raises the spectre of police unable to prosecute someone on another unrelated matter taking a peek at their hard
drive to see if they can get them for possession of porn.
The second issue is the role of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). If child porn leads the IWF to recommend blocking a few thousand sites, stand by for that list to grow by many tens of thousands. At least the subject mattter of child porn is
reasonably objectively defined. But "extreme"? Particularly when the IWF guiding principle seems to be: when in doubt, recommend a ban. Many small site owners will find themselves closed down and if they are not aware of the role of the IWF –
and many are not – they will never know why.
I did something last night that may soon be illegal. I watched a DVD of The Last House on the Left . It's interesting to consider how it stacks up against the "Dangerous Pictures Act" soon to have its final debate in the House of Lords.
Well, Last House has scenes that portray people being threatened with guns and knives. In fact, they actually get killed with guns and knives. Not uncommon in films, really. But that must mean it falls under 7(a).
and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.
Yes, the people are definitely real. It's a fair cop, then...
In the light of sheer intransigence by Lord Hunt on the part of the Government being totally unwilling to even consider the first set of amendments (ie incorporating the Sexual Offences Act, the Obscene Publications Act and the "consent"
defence), Baroness Miller has withdrawn those and, instead, they are now voting on the Amendments to remove the Extreme Porn clauses entirely.
Unfortunately this amendment was defeated by 66 votes to 30.
There are further opportunities to vote eg at the 3rd reading but the feeling is that wider groups of Lords are even more likely to support the Dangerous Pictures clauses.
It looks like Britain will soon become an even more unpleasant land.
Update: A New Defence
Lord Hunt conceded there should be a new defence, which he will lay before the Third Reading: I am aware that the noble Lord has concerns about individuals who keep a record of themselves freely and willingly participating in bondage, domination,
submission and sado-masochistic practices in which no unlawful harm occurs. I recognise that it would be anomalous for a person to be committing an offence by possessing an image of an act which he undertook perfectly lawfully. We intend to introduce at
Third Reading a defence which addresses precisely that situation.
My Lords, I, too, expressed reservations about these clauses in Committee and took very much the same line as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, did on that occasion. I looked carefully at the amendments that my noble friend brought
forward and I said in Committee that I thought that they represented an improvement on what was there before.
I think that I am the only Member of your Lordships` House who took up the invitation of my noble friend to visit Charing Cross police station to view some of what one might call the exhibits that underlie the Government`s thinking on this matter. A
variety of adjectives comes to mind, such as "bizarre", "unpleasant", "distasteful", even "repulsive", but the images were not in any sense sexually arousing. At the end of the visit, I was left with the question
whether their possession is so threatening to society that it is worth turning people into criminals and sending them to jail if they happen to have them on a computer screen at home or have obtained them some other way.
I suspect that, like me, many noble Lords have had a fair number of submissions on this subject from a variety of organisations. Some of them are very articulate and well argued. The main point that comes through was expressed by an organisation called
backlash, which said: The proposals are still, despite the recent amendments, worded in such a way as to risk inadvertently criminalising hundreds of thousands of British citizens.
He went on to say:
Equally importantly, people will be deterred from exploring their sexual preferences for fear that their research may lead them into illegal territory which in turn can cause both distress and mental health issues as well as being a
fundamental breach of their human rights".
The point is also made by a number of these organisations that most of the scenes to which my noble friend introduced me at Charing Cross are not real scenes but are faked for the benefit of their creation or are the product of an entirely consensual
activity, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, pointed out. I am at one with my noble friend Lord McIntosh and, I suspect, with the Minister in wanting to prosecute illegal activity that has taken place in order to create these images. However, if no illegal
activity has taken place and we are concerned about merely the possession of the images, I really cannot imagine that any useful purpose is served by creating criminals out of the people who possess them.
My worry is that the wording of the Bill is still much too vague and could cover all sorts of light, consensual and safe imagery which many people enjoy and practise and which at present is perfectly legal but which as a consequence of these clauses will
certainly become illegal. In Committee, I finished by asking my noble friend a question. I did not get an answer on that occasion and I therefore put the same question to him now. As a new offence is being created by these clauses, what will be the
position of people who have already downloaded material on to their computers that until now has not been illegal but henceforth will be? Will the possession of that be regarded as a criminal offence and, if it is, what advice are the Government offering
to help people to get rid of it? This is an important issue. This House cannot pass legislation that inadvertently turns people into criminals, particularly when the activity in which they are engaging is not doing anybody outside their own homes any
A new amendment has been suggest for the Dangerous Pictures Act. This commendably limits 'dangerous pictures' to those featuring real unstaged violence.
BARONESS MILLER OF CHILTHORNE DOMER
LORD WALLACE OF TANKERNESS
Page 49, line 21, at end insert—
"(d) that they reasonably believe that no person portrayed in the image was made to act against their will.
( ) For the purposes of this section whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances."
Now we really have got to get those letters out. We have a few weeks left to get enough Lords to vote to get these amendments through.
The UK Government wants to force this Bill through by May the 8th 2008, meaning that they're likely to guillotine debate in the Commons and push it through using their Parliamentary majority without letting MPs discuss it properly.
If you think that this is an abuse of Government power, you're right, so write to the Lords
and get them to amend it before it's too late!
Max Mosley (son of Sir Oswald the fascist) was caught in a News of the World sting visiting a BDSM dungeon.
Film, widely available on the web, initially starting on the News of the Screws' own site, is censored with black squares on Max's bum and that of a girl he canes, but raises some interesting issues about the Dangerous Pictures Act.
Presumably, even if uncensored, the vids would escape the DPA because they weren't produced for purposes of sexual arousal but as part of a shock horror investigation of pervy Max.
Formula One boss Max Mosley lost a High Court bid to stop the News of the World from putting a video of him and five prostitutes back on its website.
Mr Justice Eady came to the conclusion that because the material has already been widely reported, and is still widely available, granting an injunction would serve no purpose.
Eady said: I have, with some reluctance, come to the conclusion that although this material is intrusive and demeaning, and despite the fact that there is no legitimate public interest in its further publication, the granting of an order against this
respondent at the present juncture would merely be a futile gesture.
Mosley was featured in a front page story by the Sunday paper which accused him of paying five prostitutes to dress in German Nazi-style uniforms and what look very like concentration camp uniforms for the S&M session.
Mosley, the son of British fascist Sir Oswald Mosley, is taking the News of the World to court on privacy grounds - the two sides will be back in court in July.
The newspaper has only released a 95 second section of the video including clips of Mosley being beaten and enjoying a refreshing cup of tea after his five hour session. Mosley denies any Nazi connotations to the session.
Update: Formula 1 Circus Moves on to France
19th April 2008
A French judge will render a decision on April 29 on whether to ban a video showing Formula One chief Max Mosley cavorting with five prostitutes from being aired in France.
Mosley's lawyer Philippe Ouakrat said that the video "characterises a violation of his right to respect for his private life" and demanded that the tape be banned from being aired on French territory.
Elaine Smith (Coatbridge and Chryston) (Lab): I note that the legislative consent memorandum refers to three specific areas of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. I was concerned when I saw it last week—I
understand that the motion does not include clauses 113 to 120, which relate to pornography. I would be grateful if the minister could confirm that the issues around possession of extreme pornography, which are covered in the Westminster bill, will be
dealt with by Scottish legislation, as was indicated by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing in response to an oral question from me. She stated:
We have consulted on new law to prohibit extreme pornographic images, and will now work to implement the outcome of the consultation "
Women's organisations in Scotland and organisations with an interest in tackling violence against women would welcome having input into the implementation of that process and are keen to ensure that the issue will still be dealt with as a devolved
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Kenny MacAskill) : I am aware of Elaine Smith's track record in quite correctly pursuing the matter. The point that she raises is perfectly valid, and it is appropriate for me to
explain clearly that, as is mentioned in the legislative consent memorandum, we are seeking to address various gaps, for example relating to violent offenders doing something significantly wrong. I refer to actions that are taken—as is sought south of
the border—regarding those people if it is felt that they might escape punishments or requirements by moving north of the border. Clearly, people have been seeking to do that.
There are matters under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill that are being legislated on south of the border that relate to pornography. As Elaine Smith has correctly said, legislation that will apply south of the border is being introduced in that
regard. As was mentioned and has been dealt with by my ministerial health colleagues, there was a joint Scottish Executive and Home Office consultation on extreme pornography. We have legislative competence on that area here in Scotland.
We are working on proposals and are more than happy to meet Elaine Smith because of the valuable input that she and the people with whom she has communicated and whom she has represented can give. We intend to legislate on the matter in due course,
rather than introduce measures that have been decided on south of the border and which are predicated on the situation there. To an extent, the member answered her own question. I can say that, in due course, we intend to address the matter that she
correctly raises, but we will do so within the competence of the Parliament and in a manner that is appropriate for Scotland.