UK Legal News

 2012

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  Premier Offence...

London video shop trader jailed for 18 months for copy DVDs including R18s


Link Here 18th December 2012

HM Courts ServiceA trader has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after admitting making and possessing for sale almost 5,000 fake copies of DVDs from the Premier Videos shop in Dunton Road, Bermondsey, London.

David Cox was sentenced at the Inner London Crown Court after pleading guilty to six counts of infringing the Trade Marks Act 1994, two counts of infringing the Copyright, Patents and Designs Act 1988 and two counts of infringing the Video Recordings Act 1984. A further 1,947 offences were also taken into consideration.

Approximately 1,600 of the DVDs seized from a total of 4,833 were rated R18 , available only from licensed sex shops, which Premier Videos was not.

The prosecution followed a joint inspection in November 2011 by Southwark trading standards and representatives from FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft).

 

  Trafficker jailed for 20 years...


Link Here 11th November 2012

HM Courts ServiceA Nigerian people smuggler who used witchcraft rituals to force children to work as sex slaves was jailed for 20 years.

Osezua Osolase tricked poverty-stricken Nigerian orphans into travelling to the UK with the promise of a better life. But the young victims were raped, sexually abused and subjected to voodoo-style rituals by a child trafficking ring.

Judge Adele Williams told Osolase:

You are arrogant and manipulative, you are devoid of conscience, devoid of any compassion to your victims.

You were dealing in exploitation and misery and degradation. You have been convicted on clear and compelling evidence of trafficking two girls in and out of the UK.

Once they arrived in the UK the reality was explained to them that they were going to have to work as prostitutes.

They were petrified that if they spoke out they would be harmed and killed.

 

  A Dangerous Picture...

Victim of Dangerous Pictures Act fined in Cornwall


Link Here 11th November 2012

HM Courts ServicePossession of an extreme pornographic image has led to a fine for a Cornwall man.

Tony Cummings appeared before Bodmin magistrates on October 16 to admit the offence, committed on January 17.

He was fined 515 and an order was made that all the material seized should be forfeited and destroyed under the terms of the Obscene Publications Act 1959.

 

  The Judges Hands were Tied...

Dominitrix given suspended prison sentence for running a brothel


Link Here 6th November 2012

HM Courts ServiceA dominitrix who admitted being the head of two busy brothels has been sentenced to 9 months prison suspended for 18 months.

Sharon Loftus employed sex workers from all over the UK, and took half of their 120-an-hour earnings for herself. Loftus pleaded guilty to keeping brothels.

Newcastle Crown Court heard she ran brothels in Melvin Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle, and Foster Drive, St James Village, Gateshead, and deposited 30,000 per year into her bank account for six years.

The judge told her that her business hassled her neighbours:

You were providing premises for others to work in prostitution, and that is an offence which does cause victims, because those premises cause enormous stress and upset to those unfortunate enough to have to live beside them.

The judge said Loftus's guilty plea, devotion to her children and the fact none of the workers were forced into prostitution meant the jail sentence could be suspended.

Loftus initially denied the Heaton brothel was used to sell sex. Michael Bunch, prosecuting, said:

She accepted she was the tenant and said she provided dominatrix services from the location, but it did not involve sexual contact, and as such, she did not believe she was guilty. She accepted other women worked there, but believed they acted in the same manner.

It was only after the Gateshead brothel was discovered that she admitted sex was being sold.

Peter Schofield, defending, said none of the employees were forced to engage in prostitution and were already sex workers when they were taken on:

The set-up involved a measure of personal security for each of them.

 

  Dangerous Movies...

12 month community order and an 85 quid fine for possession of bestiality videos


Link Here 29th October 2012

HM Courts ServiceA pensioner has fallen victim to the Dangerous Pictures Act after he was caught with a collection of animal porn.

Alister Mollison was found in possession of 600 bestiality videos. He was made the subject of 12-month community order with supervision, and also ordered to pay 85 costs when he appeared before magistrates in Sunderland.

Rachael Dodsworth, persecuting, said specialist hi-tech crime officers raided Mollison's former home:

There they found a huge quantity of DVDs, video cassettes and recording equipment. There were 1,468 movies. Of those, 661 depicted extreme pornography. They were in the form of adult bestiality. He apologised and said he would be happy to forfeit the material.

Mollison had pleaded guilty to possession of extreme pornography at an earlier hearing.

 

  Dangerous Persecutions...

Charge and conviction statistics under the Dangerous Pictures Act


Link Here 11th September 2012

Ministry of Justice logo The Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) has revealed details of the the number of people the CPS has charged (and reaching first hearing) under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act extreme porn provisions and the number of convictions (according to the Ministry of Justice).

Charged (and reaching first hearing) 2008/9 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12      
S63(7)(a): life threatening images 0 5 38 40      
S63(7)(b): serious injury to breasts, anus or genitals 0 52 132 102      
S63(7)(c): necrophilia 0 0 0 6      
S63(7)(d): bestiality 2 213 995 1171      
               
Convictions     2010 2011        
S63(7)(a): life threatening images     0 3        
S63(7)(b): serious injury to breasts, anus or genitals     9 11        
S63(7)(c): necrophilia     0 0        
S63(7)(d): bestiality     48 67        

The vast majority of the police actions have been as a result of computer/phone searches for people investigated for unrelated reasons, most notably child porn. Most of these cases have been mostly uncontested as the main charges are more serious and take precedence. The dangerous pictures charges being used just to top up the main charge.

In some cases the main charge has fallen through but the authorities have continued the dangerous Pictures charges. These cases have shown that the authorities have been persecuting innocent people for jokey bad taste phone clips and exaggerated claims about the 'serious' injury, such as the Simon Walsh persecution over a handful of anal fisting images.

In fact there hasn't yet been a report of a case along the lines of what the law was originally intended to deal with, ie somebody like Graham Coutts, convicted of murder and found to have a large collection of violent porn.

 

 Extract: Despicable Legal Decision...

Judgement extends Obscene Publications Act to private internet chat


Link Here 6th August 2012

Old BaileyAccording to the Court of Appeal's Judgment in the recent case of R v GS [2012] private one to one text chat on the internet can be subject to the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA).

This means that anyone using the internet to discuss sexual fantasies may be at risk of committing a criminal offence.

Prior to this judgment it was presumed that the OPA did not apply to one to one conversations between individuals. This position was clearly overturned by paragraph 21 of Lord Justice Richards' lead Judgment wherein it was stated that:

In our judgment, to publish an article to an individual is plainly to publish it within the meaning of the Act.

...See the full article

 

 Extract: Twisted Obscenity Law...

UK judges quietly declare text chat can be obscene


Link Here 4th August 2012

Old BaileyYou could be committing a criminal offence next time you discuss your deepest fantasies with someone online. Alarmist? Only slightly.

A ruling slipped out quietly by the Appeal Court earlier this year, and lurking in the background while the substantive case to which it applied came to court, makes it plain: the act of publishing as defined within the Obscene Publications Act can take place with an audience of just one individual.

That means it is therefore perfectly possible for the content of online chat, should a jury decide that it is capable of depraving or corrupting , to be judged obscene - and as such for one or both participants in that conversation to be guilty of a criminal offence that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, and a stint on the sex offenders' register.

This is legal dynamite - and in one single judgment catapults the UK to the back of the queue on a range of international indices on freedom of speech.

...Read the full article

 

 Comment: Obscene Legal Manoeuvre...

Man pleads guilty to an obscene private online chat


Link Here 31st July 2012

Old BaileyKent Police have set a legal precedent after successfully prosecuting a man for making lewd comments about children during a private online conversation.

Gavin Smith was charged in 2010 with nine offences of publishing an obscene article. Under the Obscene Publications Act, it is an offence to supply material ( interpreted as distribute, circulate, sell, hire, give, or lend) , that tends to deprave and corrupt those view it.

When the case first came before magistrates, it was discharged on arguments of no case to answer. However the CPS said they had received new evidence in this matter and, following a review, decided to re-charge Smith.

At his first trial at Maidstone Crown Court in November last year, the court heard that Smith had online conversations in which he spoke about molesting and spanking children. His counsel claimed Kent Police were on a moral crusade by prosecuting Smith under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The jury in the trial was discharged by Judge Charles Macdonald QC after hearing legal arguments.

His barrister Roger Daniells-Smith told the court on that occasion: This is a test case. We say it is part of a political campaign by Kent Police. We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the law, to try to get this material included as extreme pornography. But their arguments to have online conversations included fell on stony ground , he said: They therefore had nothing other than to try (to prosecute) under this act.

But the court decision was subsequently appealed by the Crown Prosecution Service, with the Court of Appeal ruling in their favour.

Smith was due to go on trial for a second time this week. But after being given a Goodyear direction , in which a judge indicates what the likely sentence would be if a defendant pleads guilty, Smith admitted all nine offences after being told that the sentence would likely be a suspended jail term or community order.

Adjourning sentence for reports, Judge Philip St.John-Stevens described the case as unusual .

The case could now open the doors for police forces across the country to charge suspected offenders for online conversations.

Comment: Private conversations considered publication

12th July 2012. Thanks to Angelus

Disclaimer: I am not a legal professional, but...

> Kent Police have set a legal precedent...

Kent Police have not set a legal precedent - to my understanding, only a judge in a Crown Court or higher can set a binding legal precedent.

>...after successfully prosecuting a man...

They did not successfully prosecute anyone in this case - the accused pleaded guilty, which is a very different thing.

This case mirrors very closely recent cases in the USA, where despite strong constitutional protection of freedom of speech, people are regularly threatened with ridiculous sentences unless they plead guilty.

A private conversation is just that - private - and should in no wise be considered publication . To say that such a conversation could constitute the giving of obscene materials is outrageous, and this approach should have been stamped on by any half-competent counsel.

Comment: A private telephone conversation may now also be regarded as a publication

29th July 2012. Thanks to Angelus

Well, it seems I have been completely wrong-footed by this latest judgement, which does set a legal precedent. The section of the OPA in question, 1(3)(b), For the purposes of this Act a person publishes an article who ... in the case of an article containing or embodying matter to be looked at or a record, shows, plays or projects it or, where the matter is data stored electronically, transmits that data is clearly and unambiguously intended to apply to audiovisual material ( record meaning a gramophone record), not text. In order to be able to apply this section to online chat, a chat session must effectively be treated as an audiovisual experience, which given its capability of exchanging audiovisual data (even something as simple as a smiley) is perhaps not too much of a stretch for a legal mind.

However, online chat did not exist when the OPA was first enacted. So, in cases like this, it is part of the duty of the higher courts to examine laws to determine Parliament's clear intention when the legislation was first enacted and reinterpret it for the current situation. Although the OPA's definition of publishing is drawn very widely, it was clearly and obviously never intended to apply to private, interpersonal behaviour, and in this respect the Court of Appeal has now committed a grave error. So grave that it now raises the possibility that, because telephone systems are now all digital and store audio data (albeit temporarily) at several points along the signal route, a private telephone conversation may now also be regarded as a publication .

Comment: Thinking about the consequences

31st July 2012. See video from youtube.com

The subject is the effect of a recent court verdict on England's odious Obscene Publications Act.

 

 Offsite Article: Ludicrous Judgement...


Link Here 27th July 2012
Court of Appeal's Judgment says private one to one text chat on the internet can be subject to the Obscene Publications Act. This means that anyone using the internet to discuss sexual fantasies may be at risk of committing a criminal offence.

See article from obscenitylawyer.blogspot.co.uk

 

  Police Do Anything But Support the Community...

Policeman falls victim to the Dangerous Pictures Act


Link Here 19th July 2012

HM Courts ServiceA Police Community Support Officer has avoided a jail term after falling victim to the Dangerous Pictures Act.

Alan Rosser, who worked with the Lincolnshire Police Neighbourhood Policing Team in Caistor, was arrested in December 2010 after his home was searched.

Laura Pitman, persecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Rosser's computer was taken away and subsequent checks revealed almost 5,000 extreme pornographic pictures and videos:

That computer was examined and images of extreme pornography, involving adults and animals was discovered. He was subsequently interviewed and admitted he knew these images were on his computer.

Rosser admitted six charges of possessing extreme pornography on December 14, 2010. He was given a three-year community order with a three-month curfew. He was also ordered to attend a sex offenders' rehabilitation course and his computer was confiscated.

Stephen Grattage, defending, said:

He was a PCSO for several years and was well regarded. He did a good job and always tried to keep himself within the law. He didn't realise that this was a criminal offence. He was very upset that he had crossed that line. It was an error on his part.

And as if to emphasise that Rosser's tastes would have best been left a private matter, rather than adding another broken career to Britain's social security debt mountain:

The judge told Rosser: It is clear that you were highly thought of.

And the newspaper report added that Rosser, described as popular and hardworking, had been a PCSO since 2003 but quit his job after being charged and is now unemployed claiming Job Seekers' Allowance.

 

 Offsite Article: Studying Tax Law...


Link Here 10th July 2012
Escort jailed for tax fraud after turning to prostitution to fund a university education

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

  A Fair Trial?...

Police seize book about the law for sex workers during a massage parlour raid


Link Here 2nd July 2012

HM Courts ServiceA man who was running a brothel in Ossett has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Kevin Wrigglesworth was arrested in January 2011 after falling victim to a police a raid at his home and was later charged with being concerned in prostitution for gain and supposed money laundering offences (ie just spending the money that the authorities claim is illegally obtained).

He pleaded guilty to the offences at Leeds Crown Court and was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for twelve months.

An investigation by West Yorkshire Police's economic crime unit found that Wrigglesworth was living off earnings from a sauna in Ossett, which was being used as a brothel.

Also seized from Wrigglesworth's home were 27 pornographic DVDs and a book about the law for sex workers.

DI Fran Naughton, who leads the economic crime unit, said:

Kevin Wrigglesworth was running an illegal business. We will be looking at the money he earned through crime and will be seizing his assets via a confiscation order.

 

  Throwing the Book...

Small scale porn DVD seller fined 10k and given 200 hours community service plus a suspended prison sentence


Link Here 11th June 2012

HM Courts Service A man who supplemented his income by running a cottage industry, illegally selling adult pornography, has been given a 6 month suspended jail sentence. Simon Pearce also received a hefty 10,000 court costs order and will have to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

When trading standards officers visited his home they found Pearce had a stock of 5,500 copied DVDs. He had a price catalogue of thousands and thousands of titles.

Pearce pleaded guilty to possessing unclassified recordings and also BBFC R-18 recordings for the purpose of supply.

James Varley prosecuting said trading standards officers investigated after seeing the defendant's mail order advert for R-18 DVDs on Gum-tree's advertising website. Of the titles offered by Pearce, three-quarters were unclassified and the remainder R-18:

It had been going on for a couple of years and the defendant had received e-mails of thanks from customers, repeat orders, and specific requests for material. It was a cottage industry. He was selling them for about 3 each.

Judge Mark Rogers said:

Some of these DVDs shouldn't be in circulation at all and some can only be sold in highly-restricted circumstances. You set out to flout that arrangement. The content is such that many people would find repugnant.

Kim Lee, mitigating, said:

It wasn't a large scale sophisticated operation. He estimates between 2009 and 2011 he has sold 200 to 300 DVDs at ?2.50 and would have made 900-plus from sales.

 

17th May   

Update: Extortionate Sex Shop License Fees Set to be Reduced...

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High court judge finds that sex shop licence fees should be limited to just the administration costs to the council, (and not include London Beautification costs for the Olympics)
Link Here  full story: Unfair Sex Shop Licences...Court battle over unfairly high sex shop licence charges

Old Bailey Sex shop owners have won a High Court victory over licensing fees which could see them claw back an estimated 1 million.

A judge has ruled that Westminster City Council unlawfully used licence fee income to enforce against illegal sex shops. Mr Justice Keith declared that a recently introduced European directive did not permit the determination of a reasonable licence fee to include the costs of enforcement.

Tony Devenish, the council's Cabinet member for licensing and public health, spouted:

Naturally we are disappointed at this decision, which we intend to appeal.

Westminster City Council has always maintained that the use of licence fee income to enforce against illegal sex shops is a proper use of public money, protecting the quality of life for our residents and visitors, including the global reputation of London.

Enforcing against the illegal sex trade actually benefits those who are legitimate operators in the sex industry.

With millions of extra visitors about to descend on London to celebrate the Jubilee and Olympics, it is critical people see the best face of our city.

The landmark ruling was a victory for Simply Pleasure Ltd and six other long-standing licensees of 11 sex shops in London's Soho and two others in Covent Garden and the West End selling adult sex toys, DVDs, and books and magazines.

The judge said that in the past the cost of enforcing the licensing system was often reflected in the licence fee. But in 2009 new regulations were introduced to implement EU Directive 2006/123/EC, which was aimed at creating a free and competitive market for services within the European Union .

The judge said that whatever domestic law had permitted in the past , the directive did not allow the licence fee to exceed the administrative costs covering the steps which an applicant for a licence has to take if he wishes to be granted a licence or to have his licence renewed. The judge said:

The fact that the council has preferred over the years to use the licence fee to charge the operators of sex establishments for enforcing the system does not affect the proper interpretation of the 2009 regulations.

For all these reasons, therefore, I have concluded that since the year beginning February 1 2010 the council has not been permitted, when determining the reasonable licence fee for sex establishments, to reflect the fee which it determines the costs of enforcing the system.

 

30th April   

Clutching at Trafficked Straws...

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The first sex 'trafficking' conviction in Northern Ireland featured no coercion whatsoever
Link Here

HM Courts Service A man has been convicted by Belfast Crown Court of prostitution and supposed human trafficking offences. Matyas Pis was convicted of the 'trafficking' of two women into the UK, controlling prostitution and brothel keeping.

It is is the first conviction for 'trafficking' in Northern Ireland.

Recorder Tom Burgess imposed a sentence of 18 months imprisonment followed by 18 months on licence.

On three occasions, between December 2010 and March 2011 Pis arranged for two women to work in Belfast as prostitutes. The women said they asked the Hungarian national to book their air tickets, and he provided them with an apartment in Belfast. The women paid the defendant rent for the apartment and paid back their travelling expenses. There was no allegation that the women were brought or held against their will.

Judge Burgess claimed that even though there was no coercion involved, any case of trafficking human beings was a serious case.

As this was the first time that the courts in Northern Ireland have had the opportunity to sentence someone for trafficking offences, the recorder set out guidance for the courts to follow until the Court of Appeal has had an opportunity to provide an authoritative guideline.

 

28th March   

Romanian couple jailed for forced prostitution in Birmingham...

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Link Here

HM Courts ServiceA man and a woman from Birmingham have been jailed for sexually exploiting a Romanian woman who they tricked into coming to the UK.

Romanian nationals Ionut Nicolae and Vasillica Tirei lured the victim into leaving her homeland with a job offer. She was then forced to work as a prostitute at a house in Birmingham and made to sleep with nearly 2,000 men.

At an earlier hearing, a jury at Birmingham Crown Court had returned unanimous guilty verdicts.

The man, Ionut Nicolae, was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years. Vasillica Tirei received a nine-year sentence.

 

25th March   

Extreme sentence for running brothels in Maidenhead and Slough...

Link Here

HM Courts ServiceA man who ran a chaon of sex parlours in Maidenhead and Slough has been jailed for three and a half years.

Kunyi He ran 10 brothels across the South-east including branches in Portsmouth and Cambridge. He was found guilty of conspiring to keep brothels for the purpose of prostitution by a jury following a two-week trial.

Judge Peter Ross told the court Kunyi He worked as a partner in crime with his ex-girlfriend Ai Ju Su and Manjit Singh to run the brothels. But He took home the largest share of the profit which amounted to at least 200,000.

Kunyi He used fake ID's to pay rent, council tax, and to buy advertisement in the local press advertising high class oriental massages with a full, passionate service . Judge Ross said: One of the most serious features in relation to your case is the use of a forged passport. This court has seen this item and its high quality.

He's partners are due to be sentenced later at the same court.

 

13th March   

Innocent Until Made Guilty by Crap Law...

Victim of the Dangerous Pictures Act fined 1,200 and placed on supervision for 3 years
Link Here

HM Courts ServiceA victim of the Dangerous Pictures Act who was caught in possession of around 2,400 pornographic images has been placed on Supervision for three years.

Judge John Warner made it a condition Robert Dunkley attends the Sex Offenders Group as he stressed, Some effort must be made to address your predeliction for this sort of sexual behaviour.

Dunkley, a man of previous good character, said he had downloaded the images and he admitted he was interested in bestiality. He pleaded guilty to possessing extreme pornography and he was further made the subject of a Sexual Offenders Protection Order and told he must pay 1,200 costs.

The judge said Dunkley had already been punished by his admission to having the images which featured bestiality and it was clear he had also engaged in chatroom conversations about the subject. He told Dunkley:

Having these items is firmly against the law. Although you tried to delete them you weren't successful and there was always the risk someone else could come across them.

Havinderpal Dhami prosecuting said a visitor to Dunkley's home accessed his computer and after the images were found the police were notified.

 

27th February   

Long Sentence...

Woman jailed for 3 years for running brothels in north London
Link Here

HM Courts ServiceTugba Atila was sentenced to 3 years in jail for managing 15 brothels in Tottenham and Wood Green.

They were staffed largely by women from eastern Europe who serviced local Turkish men, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The business was ended after undercover police carried out test purchases at one establishment in Seven Sisters Road, South Tottenham.

Atila denied four charges of controlling prostitution for gain and another of possessing criminal property at a trial last month -- but is on the run after failing to turn up to court a week later.

Sentencing her in her absence, Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: I'm satisfied she ran these premises in a bullying and dictatorial way, exploiting the vulnerability of these women, who for whatever reasons had fallen into prostitution as a means of making a living and who ended up working for her.

Susannah Stevens, prosecuting, said Atila and other brothel managers shared the working girls between 15 addresses. The working girls had to give up to half of their earnings to the brothel's controller.

Atila's helper Nesrin Coskun was jailed for eight months after being convicted of assisting in the management of a brothel.

 

4th February   

Update: The Olympic Sport of Shop Shutting...

London campaign to close unlicensed sex shops aims to complete by the start of the Olympics
Link Here  full story: Sex Shops in London...God created sex shop whingers in Islington

soho cafes Another unlicensed Soho sex shop on Walkers Court has been warned to cease trading as part of Westminster Council's long-running campaign against unlicensed shops selling hardcore DVDs.

Westminster Council allows a limited number of vendors of adult DVDs, magazines and sex toys to trade in the West End, but such businesses are obliged to pay extortionate licence fees that cost about 30,000 per year.

Enterprise chief Councillor Brian Connell said licensing council staff were working hard to put the remaining unlicensed sex shops in the streets and alleyways around Brewer Street out of business. Connell told the West End Extra:

 In my view, cleaning up the worst excesses of this trade is good for London and good for Westminster.

It's what we said we would do prior to the Olympics, so it is delivering on a commitment, and it also has the effect of making sure that legitimate businesses don't run the risk of losing market share.

In 1999 Soho had 61 unlicensed sex shops. It now has nine, and of these, the courts are set to hear three closure hearings in the coming year. The council's declared intention is for no unlicensed sex DVD shops to remain operational by the start of the Olympics.

Update: Meanwhile in Islington

3rd February 2012. See  article from  islingtontribune.com

Islington's last unlicensed sex shop has shut after a council raid found unclassified DVDs on the premises. Trading SubStandards and licensing staff visited DJD Retail, trading as Bookshop, at York Way in May last year, and seized DVDs and videos.

The sole officer of the company, David Darbo, pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Video Recordings Act 1984 at Highbury Magistrates' Court last month.

Darbo was fined 3,150 and ordered to pay 1,449 costs. DJD Retail admitted eight offences and was fined 100 for one offence.

 

15th January   

Offsite: It's Obscene!...

Podcast with lawyers and campaigners discussing impact of the R v Peacock obscenity acquittal
Link Here  full story: Obscenity in the UK...Gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM found not obscene by jury

north pod law The podcast is introduced as follows:

Well this week it's all about sex again! And you really probably should ensure your children aren't in the back seats if you're listening in the car. Awkward questions might abound. Ben, Kirstin and regular contributor, Jonathan Holt, talk with Alex Dymock once more following the verdict in the Southwark Obscene Publications Trial and are joined by Myles Jackman, one of Michael Peacock's defence team and journalist David Allen Green to discuss the merits of repealing the 1959 Act and what this verdict means for future prosecutions.

...Listen to the podcast

Sergio has also kindly listed articles discussing this R v Peacock case:

blog.indexoncensorship.org/2012/01/06/obscenity-trial-verdict-michael-peacock-pornography/
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Peacock
www.freedominapuritanage.co.uk/?p=2042
janefae.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/news-feed-an-end-to-obscenity-law/
lawandsexuality.blogspot.com/2012/01/fisting-in-courtroom.html
www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/01/crown-court-prosecution
www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/01/peacock-trial-fisting
obscenitylawyer.blogspot.com/2012/01/obscenity-trial-of-decade.html
strangethingsarehappening.com/news-obscenitytrial.html
www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/jan/07/obscene-publications-act-future-doubt
www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/jan/06/obscenity-trial-law-digital-age
www.lawgazette.co.uk/blogs/blogs/news-blogs/an-obscene-waste-money
www.lawgazette.co.uk/obiter/bottoms-and-broomsticks
www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/01/obscenity-law-depraved-trial
www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2012/01/06/comment-are-we-seeing-the-death-of-obscenity
www.theweek.co.uk/law/44124/sleazy-michael-wins-obscenity-trial-over-fisting-dvds
quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/freedom-in-a-puritan-age-or-not/
timeritous.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/r-v-peacock-the-last-obscene-publications-act-prosecution/
sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2012/01/obscenity-trial-ends.html
www.solicitorsjournal.com/story.asp?sectioncode=2&storycode=19392
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16443697
mag.bent.com/news/not-guilty-verdict-in-gay-porn-obscenity-trial/

 

9th January   

Offsite: Trial Report...

Making a Fist of It: The Law and Obscenity
Link Here  full story: Obscenity in the UK...Gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM found not obscene by jury

Old BaileyChris Ashford has written an excellent report of the trial:

On Friday 6 January 2012, a historic case came to a conclusion in Courtroom 7 of Southwark Crown Court in Courtroom 7. Michael Peacock was unanimously acquitted, after a four-day trial that saw the outdated obscenity law of England and Wales in the dock.

Peacock had been charged under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 for allegedly distributing obscene gay DVDs, which featured fisting, urolagnia ('watersports') and BDSM.

Peacock had advertised the DVDs through Craigslist, his own website (which also promoted his services as a male escort), and in a magazine. The Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command (SCD9) or London's Metropolitan Police --- which encompasses the former Obscene Publications Squad --- saw the advert and began an investigation.

...Read the full article

 

7th January   

Update: Obscenity Trial of the Decade...

Jury clears gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM DVDs of obscenity
Link Here  full story: Obscenity in the UK...Gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM found not obscene by jury

Old BaileyR v Peacock

Michael Peacock has been acquitted of all charges after a unanimous jury decision to find Peacock not guilty on 6 counts of obscenity.

Michael Peacock (referred to in the gay porn world as Sleazy Michael) had been charged for distributing supposedly obscene DVDs including representation of gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM.

The trial was heard before the Southwark Crown Court. The films in question feature: gay fisting (the insertion of five fingers of the fist into the rectum of another male); urolagnia (in this case men urinating in their clothes, onto each others' bodies and drinking it); and BDSM (in this case hard whipping, the insertion of needles, urethral sounds and electrical torture ). Also there was an example of a staged non consensual scene.

The Obscene Publications Act 1959 features the contentious and ambiguous deprave and corrupt test, whereby an article (for example a DVD) is obscene if it tends to deprave and corrupt the reader, viewer or listener. The Test is defined in Section1 of the Act as:

An article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or (where the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

Peacock was represented by Nigel Richardson and Sandra Paul of Hodge Jones and Allen

Myles Jackman, a solicitor specialising in obscenity law, said this outcome was a significant victory for common sense suggesting that the OPA has been rendered irrelevant in the digital age .

In a tweet, Jackman said that SCD9, the Metropolitan Police unit dealing with human exploitation and organised crime, will meet with the Crown Prosecution Service and the British Board of Film Classification to review guidelines on obscenity.

And of course the authorities will be considering whether the law itself now needs changing. No doubt nutter campaigners will now be pushing for something new to replace the OPA now that it no longer supports their censorial views.

Speculation: So what may be the outcome at least in terms of BBFC censorship of R18s?

R18 StoryThe BBFC have been cutting all such material citing the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act. But now of course this will change. The BBFC will still be at liberty to cut scenes off their own bat. And indeed the board has been regularly cutting scenes involving penetration by objects that could possibly result in harm justified via its own guidelines.

I think there will be a few changes welcomed by all sides. The current prohibition of female squirting leaves everyone totally baffled as to why. This prohibition can now be rapidly dropped. Perhaps urolagnia can now be generally allowed albeit with restrictions when it is considered by the censors to be degrading.

Perhaps something similar with fisting which could be generally allowed with a proviso that it must not be seen to be causing any discomfort to those participating.

The BDSM issue is not going to be easy. The current ban is at least easy to explain. To allow any level of hurt beyond trifling may prove very difficult to define. Maybe it is still banned by legislation examined during the notable Spanner Case, the judgement of which basically disallows people from giving consent to be hurt. So perhaps the BBFC will just switch justifications but continue to ban BDSM.

And I don't suppose that the non-consensual scene will impact BBFC guidelines at all. This will no doubt continue to be banned from R18s.

 

7th January   

Simply Asking...

Requesting a Judicial Review to ask if Westminster Council is really spending 30,000 to administer a single sex shop licence?
Link Here

Simply Pleasure.com A sex shop owner hopes to mount a court challenge against Westminster Council in what could be a landmark case for Soho's erotica retailers.

Tim Hemming, who owns Simply Pleasure in Brewer Street, fears the cash-strapped council may be exploiting sex shop licence fees as a way of filling its coffers. He is seeking a judicial review.

A Westminster licence to operate a sex shop costs nearly 30,000 a year. Hemming, who owns 35 licensed sex shops nationwide, said:

This is supposed to be a non-profit-making fee, so they should be spending all this money on enforcement and administration. We don't believe they have got the evidence to prove they have been doing that.

I pay somewhere in the region of 200,000 yearly in licence fees. It's a strain on our bottom line.

He said the fees should be capped at 1,000 a year.

A decision on his review bid is due later this year.

The West End Extra understands his bid is being backed by five other central London adult DVD retailers who have attended summits on the issue over the past months.

 

5th January   

Updated: Obscenity Trial of the Decade...

Contested jury trial seems to be accepted as a test case to decide on the legality of depictions of fisting, urolagnia and BDSM
Link Here  full story: Obscenity in the UK...Gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM found not obscene by jury

Old BaileyThe 3rd January 2012 marks the first day of the most significant obscenity trial of the decade; which will ultimately clarify the law on the representation of gay fisting, urolagnia as well as BDSM.

The defendant in the case, Michael Peacock, is charged on indictment with numerous offences under the Obscene Publications Act for distributing supposedly obscene DVDs.

The Obscene Publications Act 1959 features the contentious and ambiguous deprave and corrupt test, whereby an article (for example a DVD) is obscene if it tends to deprave and corrupt the reader, viewer or listener. The Test is defined in Section1 of the Act as:

An article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or (where the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

In this trial, which will be heard before the Southwark Crown Court, the films in question feature: gay fisting (the insertion of five fingers of the fist into the rectum of another male); urolagnia (in this case men urinating in their clothes, onto each others' bodies and drinking it); and BDSM (in this case hard whipping, the insertion of needles, urethral sounds and electrical torture ).

These activities feature on the current list of what the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) currently consider to be obscene. Ultimately though, it is a matter for a jury to decide whether these acts are obscene by virtue of whether they deprave and corrupt the viewer.

Interestingly this case seems to have found unofficial tacit support from the BBFC; and the Metropolitan Police's Abusive and Extreme Images Unit (the Met's old obscene publications squad is now part of SCD9): on the basis that this case will establish whether the depiction of fisting and urination pornography is legal or not.

Hence, if the jury decides that such pornography is not obscene, on the basis that it does not deprave and corrupt the viewer; then it is entirely likely that both the producers and distributors of pornography will make such material available for sale, for example via licensed sex shops.

Consequently, this significant obscenity prosecution will either reaffirm or rearrange the boundaries of obscenity law.

Mr Peacock is represented by  Hodge Jones and Allen LLP..

...Read the full article

Update: Follow Live on Twitter

5th January 2012.  See  article from  lawandsexuality.blogspot.com

Twitter logoThe #ObscenityTrial involving the issue of fisting (among others) goes into day three today.

If you're not already doing so, be sure to follow on twitter the excellent activist and scholar, @lexingtondymock . I'd also suggest following the journalist @NichiHodgson . Both have been providing fascinating coverage through their live tweets from the courtroom.

Many of the exchanges today would be comical, were they not so serious.

 

5th January   

Update: Sheila Farmer Cleared...

An end to the case of police and CPS persecution of the victim of a violent robbery
Link Here  full story: Sheila Farmer...Sex worker persecuted for trying to work safely

sheila farmer protestSheila Farmer, a sex worker who worked with other women from premises for safety had charges of brothel-keeping dismissed in Croydon Crown Court. She worked with other women since being viciously raped and attacked whilst working alone.

Ms Farmer left court with over 20 supporters delighted and relieved that she no longer faces a criminal conviction and possible prison sentence. Ms Farmer suffers from severe diabetes and a malignant brain tumour. Her doctor had provided evidence that an onerous and stressful trial would have exacerbated her condition.

Sheila Farmer commented:

Whilst I'm relieved not to be facing trial I am angry that I was prosecuted. Will the person who made that decision now be held accountable for the 18 months of distress and upset I have suffered while waiting for this case to come to court? Safety and survival has always been my priority. Like hundreds of other women I was working to support my son and more recently to pay for cancer treatment. I would never have got through this ordeal without the English Collective of Prostitutes. Without campaigning we may not have got this result.

Cari Mitchell, English Collective of Prostitutes commented:

Sheila Farmer's bravery in publicly fighting these charges should be commended. She, like many other sex workers, should never have been forced to choose between safety and legality. Why is it legal to work alone but not with others? The prostitution laws are endangering women and should be abolished. Why are police wasting time and money prosecuting sex workers while rapists and racists go free?

Ms Farmer's trial was thrown out because of police and prosecution incompetence -- witnesses had not been asked to attend court and a key witness could not be found. Ms Farmer has attended court six times and the case has been listed to start on two previous occasions.

How much public money has been squandered on this investigation and prosecution? How many other investigations are being neglected as a result?

The conviction of two of Stephen Lawrence's murderers reminds us once again that the priorities of police and prosecution fly in the face of public opinion. Why did it take 18 years to try and convict these dangerous criminals while sex workers who do no harm are quickly arrested and jailed? The ECP has received multiple reports of violent robberies by a gang of five men in East London. The only police action has been to threaten the victims with prosecution. Why are women who report violence arrested while their attackers are not pursued?

Ms Farmer's legal team requested figures on the number of attacks against sex workers to demonstrate the high level of violence they face when working alone and the need for protection. The Metropolitan police said that no such figures are gathered. Why not? How can prostitution law and policy be assessed if their impact on sex workers' safety and welfare is not known?

Ms Farmer was represented by solicitor Nigel Richardson, Hodge, Jones and Allen and barrister Anna Morris, Garden Court Chambers. Supporters in court included representatives from Women Against Rape, the Sex Worker Open University and X:talk.

 



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