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UK News

2005: July-Sept

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29th September   Hostage to Misfortune

From The Scotsman

A hotel guest who showed an "abhorrent and shocking" video of an Iraqi hostage being beheaded to an appalled worker was yesterday jailed for 60 days.

Subhaan Younis showed Charlotte McClay the footage on his mobile phone while chatting to her in the shop where she worked at the Moat House Hotel in Glasgow.

A concierge assistant reported the matter to the police after spotting McClay looking pale and shaking minutes after she saw the clip.

Lawyers last night said the case highlighted the danger of forwarding graphic material by e-mail or mobile phone - and warned that even "joke" e-mails sent to work colleagues could be viewed as a criminal act.

Younis, who downloaded the clip from the internet, had been staying in the hotel at the time of the offence on 27 September last year.

Defence solicitor Dominic Sellar told Glasgow District Court his client, who was found guilty of breach of the peace last month, accepted the images were "abhorrent and shocking in the extreme". Younis had shown McClay the footage during a conversation about the Iraq war after offering to let her see something that would "cause her a sleepless night", said Sellar.  The solicitor said his client thought McClay realised she was about to see a video of a hostage beheading.

Passing sentence, the magistrate told Younis: You chose to let her view the images on your telephone and told her that she might have nightmares. In my view, the woman had no idea about what she was about to view. No reasonable person might have anticipated viewing such dreadful and distressing images in such circumstances. I struggle to understand why any decent individual would have images showing the degradation and death of another human being, regardless of their race, political or religious persuasion."

Donald Findlay, QC, one of Scotland's top lawyers, said the case served as a warning to people who send work colleagues and friends graphic material by e-mail or mobile phone. He said: What this case shows is that sending a video clip that contains something that is either offensive, distressing or alarming can be considered a breach of the peace.

Media lawyer Campbell Deane, a partner at Bannatyne Kirkwood France in Glasgow, said as far as he was aware the case was the first time that disseminating offensive material has been prosecuted as a breach of the peace under Scots law. He said:
The test for breach of the peace is putting somebody in a state of fear and alarm and that depends on the sensitivities of the person concerned.


27th September   Hardcore at the Hilton

Typical tabloid bollox. Presumably the films are distributed electronically as per the Internet (or an Intranet) and hence are not covered by the VRA which governs physical media nor by broadcasting considerations.It is perfectly legal to view R18 type material distributed by the Internet so why shouldn't hotels take advantage. Besides that, a hotel room is considered as an extension of ones home rather than a public space, hence one can buy drinks from the night porter outside licensing hours etc.

I wonder when the Daily Mail will pick up on the challenge of legal hardcore distribution to anybody who wants it via the Internet. And just to make it easier for all, the Internet computer can be hidden away in a neat and easy to use set top box.

Based on an article from Hotels

Major hotel chains are showing hardcore pornography, rated R18 on sets in guests' bedrooms.

The Mail on Sunday claimed that this was enabled by a legal loop hole and that pay-per-view sex movies are on offer in luxury hotel groups including Hilton, Intercontinental and De Vere.

Last night the Government announced a belated inquiry into why the hotels should be immune from a rigidly-enforced blanket ban on the broadcast of hardcore films on terrestrial, satellite and cable television channels.

Ironically, the hotel TV porn system the Government is set to investigate is readily available in at least one of the two Hilton hotels being used by the Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues at this week's Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

The films now on offer in many British hotels would carry the special 'R18' certificate, which is issued by the BBFC, primarily 'for explicit works of consenting sex between adults.' R18 films can only be purchased by over-18s from licensed sex shops or viewed in specially-licensed cinemas where the age of every ticket purchaser can be verified.

The Hilton Group, whose hotels offer the 'adult' channel at Pounds £12.95 per 24 hours, said yesterday it had consulted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport before making the R18 material available.

When The Mail on Sunday first approached the DCMS to ask what it planned to do to shut down the legal loophole, a spokesman said it was ultimately for the hotel chains to decide what television services they provide for their customers but obviously they have to do operate within the parameters of the law.

The hotels showing hardcore porn insist they can put an electronic block on adult TV channels in guest rooms and say there are onscreen warnings that the viewer is about to access explicit material unsuitable for minors.

Last night a spokeswoman for Hilton, which offers the films in 60 of its 70 UK hotels, said: We started to introduce these films in our hotels in April, which was after some of the other major chains. We took advice from leading counsel and the DCMS before we did so and we are satisfied that it is within the law. Our supplier, Acentic, has also assured us that we are not breaking any regulations. There is also no question of children accessing this material.

There are warnings on every stage of the menu process on the pay-TV screen and when families check in to our hotels it is our policy to ask the parents if they want the adult channel blocked. A spokeswoman for De Vere, which has 19 four-star and fivestar hotels in the UK, confirmed they were also showing R18 films. We understand from our suppliers that it has been legal for two years,' she said.

We offer this service because it has become standard throughout the industry and it is a service that our guests demand. At the Intercontinental Group, which has around 300 hotels in the UK, including the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands, a spokeswoman confirmed it began showing R18 films in the spring of this year after taking legal advice.

In a second statement issued late yesterday afternoon, the DCMS said: 'The Government takes very seriously extreme pornographic images and the protection of children. We are grateful to The Mail on Sunday for drawing this to our attention. It may be that the present legislation creates a loophole for new technologies to provide pornographic material that was not intended under existing legislation. We are therefore examining with the Home Office what action needs to be taken to ensure that the law as intended is complied with. The DCMS spokesman added that he was not aware whether any of the hotel chains contacted them before installing the film system.


24th September   Hated Law Even Hated by Christians

From Christian Today

The Evangelical Alliance and the African & Caribbean Evangelical Alliance in calling on its combined membership, consisting of more than a million Christians, to protest next month against the proposed Racial & Religious Hatred legislation.

Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance is firmly opposed to the Bill as it stands.

The Alliances are urging their members to take time off work next month to as part of the protest, and calling for huge numbers of people to gather outside the Houses of Parliament on 11 October, the date that the Bill’s first full debate is scheduled to take place at the House of Lords.

More than 100 Christian groups, churches and denominations are planning a full weekend of prayer and protest against the legislation, which has been seen by many critics as a threat to freedom of speech as well as a threat to evangelism for religious groups.

The weekend will commence with a prayer rally taking place near the famous ‘Speakers’ Corner’ in Hyde Park in central London on Saturday 8 October 2005 at midday. The Evangelical Alliances are calling for as many people to gather for this as possible, and this will be followed by a day of prayer in local churches throughout the nation on Sunday 9 October.

The protest will conclude with a mass protest rally on Tuesday 11 October in Parliament Square at 1pm.

We continue to oppose this Bill as a matter of principle because it affects the freedom of speech of every UK citizen.

The Chief Executive Officer of the ACEA, Rev Katei Kirby said, The impact of the proposed legislation will form part of the legacy that we will leave for our children and our children’s children. This is an opportunity for the Church to unite with one voice in prayer and protest to make a difference.

The Evangelical Alliance is in unity with many other faith organisations and groups, as well as entertainers and secularists, that fear the proposed legislation will greatly restrict the right to freedom of speech in Britain.

Despite large protests, the legislation has already passed through the House of Commons, and now it just remains for the House of Lords to approve the Bill for it to come into effect as law in Britain.

The General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, Rev Joel Edwards said, We continue to oppose this Bill as a matter of principle because it affects the freedom of speech of every UK citizen.  We are committed to defending religious liberty and precious freedoms like free speech. This protest is about pulling people together to be a united voice in opposition to this proposed law.

Backing this view, Don Horrocks, the Head of Public Affairs at the Evangelical Alliance stated,
Many observers believe the Government is so committed to getting the measures through Parliament that the Bill will inevitably pass into statute law. However, opposition to the Bill, even at this late stage, is not futile. It is quite possible that the Lords may press for amendments that the Government will feel obliged to accept and which could make the Bill less destructive. I therefore urge everyone who believes in the principles of free speech to do everything they can to join the thousands of Christians and others at the rally in Parliament Square on Tuesday.


21stSeptember   Naked Police Repression

From an editorial  on Yorkshire Today

A man attempting to walk the length of Britain stark naked for a second time was arrested once again -- seconds after walking out of jail, police revealed on Monday.

"Naked Rambler" Stephen Gough was stopped by officers as he left the gates of Edinburgh's Saughton prison on Friday and taken to the city's Sheriff Court. The former royal marine was released on bail and will appear in court in December.

He was thrown in jail on September 9 after being found guilty of breaching of the peace just south of the Scottish capital on September 1.

On Monday, Gough vowed that the Naked Rambler will not be stopped in his quest to make it to John O'Groats on the north-east tip of Scotland, accompanied this time by his girlfriend: I think the thing that we are standing for is really something everyone should be concerned about -- how we feel about ourselves. We talk about human rights and the dignity of man, and yet man in his natural state is locked up. It's crazy. It does not make sense. We are supposed to be reasonable, our justice system is based on reason, and yet I'm being put away as if I'm some sort of disgusting animal. I'm just a human being.

Public nudity is illegal in Britain but that has not stopped Gough attempting a second trek wearing nothing but boots, a hat and a rucksack.

He walked the 1 363km length of Britain from Land's End in south-west England to John O'Groats in 2003 and 2004 and was arrested 14 times during the trip, serving two jail terms.

The journey to mainland Britain's most northerly settlement should take another two weeks -- providing he is not arrested again.


10th September   Blame to end all Blame

This is getting ludicrous. The Internet is being blamed simply for providing a mechanism for like minded people to talk about a shared interest and to pass on relevant knowledge. If I was considering suicide I for one would appreciate practical suggestions on a good way to depart.

Instead of simply wanting to imprison, punish, ban etc why not consider the more positive option of adding a Samaritans presence to such websites and forums. I am sure that this would do a lot more good than criminalising, fining and imprisoning.

From an editorial  on Yorkshire Today

Why we say internet law must change

Very few occurrences in life are more harrowing than a parent having to cope with the death of a child. No words can ease their pain. Elizabeth Taylor's daughter Carina Stephenson, by all accounts a vivacious 17-year-old, was found hanging in woods in South Yorkshire in May. Her family's grief is exacerbated by the belief that Carina would still be alive if she had not logged onto sickening internet websites which give advice and practical instruction about suicide.

Worse still, this appears not to be an isolated case. Earlier this year, two girls in South Wales arranged a suicide pact after becoming friends via an internet chat room. And Carina, herself, is known to have exchanged emails with three other people said to have been contemplating suicide. One of this group has yet to be traced.

It is paramount that the Government heeds a plea from Ms Taylor and investigates how the internet can be better monitored and, if necessary, brings in legislation to enable it to shut down specific sites.

The Home Office needs to work closely with its global counterparts to establish whether a way can be found to remove websites which advocate suicide.

The Government must also look to the response of Japan, where action was taken following a series of internet-related suicides. Service providers in the country have a legal obligation to inform the police of any email traffic involving computer users discussing the possibility of taking their own lives.

It is a common-sense measure which Ministers should be able to replicate in Britain. Ms Taylor has looked at the suicide sites that her daughter had viewed. She was physically sickened by the depravity of the images that she witnessed, and the nature of the information provided.

If the Government examines those sites, it will know how urgent action is needed before more young lives, like Carina's, are lost so tragically and so needlessly.


10th September   Naked Repression

More evidence that the state persecutors cannot be trusted to maintain just proprtionality. Most likely down to intolerant nutters getting involved in the process.

From the BBC

Naked rambler Stephen Gough has been jailed for two weeks after being found guilty of a breach of the peace while walking in Midlothian.

The 46-year-old, from Bournemouth, was naked in the dock as he was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. He was convicted of exposing himself, causing fear and alarm and distracting drivers on the A701 on 1 September.

Gough, who is walking from Land's End to John O'Groats in the nude, had denied the charge. He argued that walking naked in public did not constitute a breach of the peace.

But Sheriff Kenneth MacIver told him: I have no doubt in my mind that walking naked through a Scottish town and along a busy road is not something which the Scottish public should be expected to deal with. He said people were likely to be "upset, alarmed or offended" by his behaviour.

Gough, who was arrested near Bilston, said he would continue with his walk when he was released from prison.

At a previous hearing his female companion, 34-year-old Melanie Roberts from Bournemouth, admitted a reduced breach of the peace charge. Sentence was deferred on the hairdresser, who wore a T-shirt and jeans in the dock.

During Gough's trial, 21-year-old postman William Lister said he had been "pretty alarmed and shocked" when he saw the couple walking naked apart from their socks and boots. One police officer told the court that the couple's actions had been "totally inappropriate". Another said that he found nudity "distasteful".


8th September   Human Rights Vaccum in Belfast

From Slugger O'Toole
From Vacuum
Spotted by MediawatchWatch

The Vacuum High Court hearing starts next week

Factotum, the publishers of the controversial magazine The Vacuum will be appearing in the Belfast High Court next Tuesday 13th September as a result of a year long dispute with the Belfast City Council over its demand for an apology for offence caused in previous issues. The High Court hearings start at 10.30am but if you want to witness proceedings you are advised to arrive by 10am.

From The Vacuum:

A potentially landmark Human Rights case resulting from a year-long dispute between Belfast City Council and the free cultural newspaper The Vacuum is due to take place on Tuesday 13th September 2005.

The Council’s demand that the publication provide an apology to ‘citizens of the city’ and ‘members of the Council’ for offence caused in previous issues is being challenged in the High Court by one of the paper’s editors, Richard West, as a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. If successful, this will be the first time, since the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998, that a local authority will have been held to be in breach of an individual or organisation's right to freedom of expression as protected under the legislation.

The legal showdown comes amidst heated debate over the new Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill and its potential to curtail free expression. It also follows the debate about the play ‘Behzti’ (Dishonour) which was closed after violent protests by the Sikh community and the BBC received unprecedented numbers of complaints about the broadcast of 'Jerry Springer the Opera'.

The Belfast controversy arose from a single complaint from a member of the public concerning ‘God’ and ‘Satan’ themed issues of The Vacuum published in June 2004. Councillors reacted by describing it as ‘filth’, claiming that it was ‘encouraging devil worship’ and voting 24-12 to withhold an agreed funding allocation of £3,300 until an apology was provided. This prompted The Vacuum to hold a satirical 'Sorry Day' in December ridiculing the council's demand for an apology, but also raising serious questions about censorship and freedom of speech.

In stark contrast to the attitude of the city authorities towards The Vacuum, its publishers, Factotum, have been selected as part of a delegation of artists to represent Northern Ireland at the Venice Biennale this summer. They have also been nominated for the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Award and received commissions to produce new publications in London and Dublin. The paper currently has a circulation of 15,000, concentrated in Belfast where it is available to pick up in cafes, bars, libraries, galleries, cinemas and hotels, and is lauded for making a valuable contribution to cultural life in the city.


6th September   Criminally Incompetent Records Bureau

Interesting to note that selling hardcore is considered such a serious crime. It strikes me that any one selling their legal R18s on the likes of eBay could be precluded from working in schools and colleges.

From Herts & Essex News

A man who was given a job by Hertford Regional College was shocked when the Criminal Records Bureau wrongly identified him as a seller of hardcore pornography.

Having led crime free life, David Mansfield had assumed the routine background check would be a formality. But instead he was blocked from starting work as a learning support officer for six months while he waited for the bureaucratic blunder to be cleared up.

There was no sense of urgency , said Mansfield, The CRB is a shambolic organisation that has no idea how to be customer oriented.

The ordeal for Mansfield began when he received a copy of the disclosure document sent to the college: As soon as I saw that, alarm bells started to ring. It said I had been fined for selling hardcore pornography in Bournemouth in 1972. Why couldn't it be riding a bike without lights? Of course, Hertford Regional College had no alternative but to withdraw the job offer, and I then set about the appeals process."

After much form-filling, sending off passport photos and offering to give his fingerprints, Mansfield endured three months of frustrating delays before enlisting the help of MP Mark Prisk. I used to phone them every week. The most aggravating part was that nobody seemed keen to expedite it."

Eventually, he received confirmation from the CRB that his 'conviction' had been a big mistake, and is now looking forward to starting work this month. They thanked me for helping to put right the error on their database, but there was no mention of an apology whatsoever, " said Mansfield who is considering legal action over the fiasco. If I'm a victim, how many other victims are there?"

A Home Office spokeswoman said: While we cannot comment on individual cases, the CRB acts as quickly as possible in such cases but is reliant on swift responses from both the applicants and the data owners .


4th September   No Tolerance in Edinburgh

From the Mail & Guardian

A couple trying to walk the length of Britain in the nude were due to appear in court on Friday after being grabbed by police south of Edinburgh following a complaint by a member of the public.

So-called "Naked Rambler" Stephen Gough and his girlfriend, Melanie Roberts, were arrested for an alleged breach of the peace on Thursday.

Public nudity is illegal in Britain but that has not stopped Gough attempting a second trek wearing nothing but boots, a hat and a rucksack.

The former Royal Marine walked the 1 363km length of Britain from Land's End in south-west England to John O'Groats on the north-east tip of Scotland in 2003/04. He was arrested 14 times and served two jail terms during the trip.

The couple are due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in Scotland. A Lothian and Borders Police spokesprude said:
At 12.06pm yesterday [Thursday], we received a call regarding a naked male and female walking along the Roslin North Road towards Bilston in Midlothian, wearing backpacks. They were apparently being followed by a camera crew. They were detained in custody to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.


4th September   Fighting Censorship

From The Times

The sale of DVDs of bare-knuckle fights by Irish travellers has been stopped by eBay who removed the film from sale on Friday because it contravened the website’s policy of not selling products that incite violence.

Its operators objected, in particular, to a warning displayed on the product which said: This DVD is not for the faint-hearted as these boys mean business and blood is drawn regularly.

Titled Bare Knuckle Fights, Irish Travellers Boxing Straightners , the footage was described by its England-based vendor as: bare-knuckle fighting with gypsies involved in straightners, fighting for family pride and women as only these gypsies know how. An image was also supplied, featuring two topless men circling in a crowd with their fists raised.

A spokesperson for eBay said: The sale of DVDs of bare-knuckle fights isn’t illegal. For instance, the Ultimate Fighting Championship which films men in cages bare-knuckle fighting is broadcast on Sky. But, if they incite violence, we take them down.

Another DVD, Gypsy Bare Knuckle Fights Video , was not deemed to be contravening eBay’s policy, however, and is still available to buy through an online auction on the website. A spokesperson for the Irish Travellers’ Movement (ITM) condemned the sale of the camcorder tapes. This came up about two years ago. Unfortunately, there are people making these videos, obviously these people are adults and can do what they like, but we wouldn’t condone it — there’s no association with ITM . They are offensive and eBay shouldn’t be selling them .


29th August   Hatred Law is a Very Bad Joke

From The Times

Religious jokes will be told to hundreds of Christians today in an attempt to determine whether they would fall foul of the Government’s religious hatred legislation.

In “The Laugh Judgment” competition, more than 4,000 people voted on 700 religious jokes sent in to the satirical Christian website The ten funniest and ten most offensive will be performed today at the Greenbelt Christian arts festival at Cheltenham racecourse by the comic James Carey, a scriptwriter for radio comedy shows.

One of the best, a masturbation joke about Jesus, so upset the Church in Denmark, where it was first told, that religious leaders raised money to send the comic responsible to Israel to educate him. He gave the money to charity.

But this joke was voted only the second most offensive, by 69 per cent of respondents. The most offensive, voted for by 72 per cent was:

A little girl is standing on top of a cliff, looking down at the sea and crying her eyes out. A priest approaches and says, "My child, why are you so upset?"

The little girl turns to him and says, "My mummy and daddy were in their car -- and it just rolled over the cliff and smashed on the rocks down there."

The priest slowly looks around him while unbuttoning his cassock and says, "It's just not your day, is it?"

The ten most offensive jokes were all about Christianity. The jokes voted the funniest were mainly about Christianity although other religions were mentioned in some. The joke voted the funniest by 65 per cent of respondents, about a suicidal Baptist Christian, was an illustration of the extremes of religious sectarianism.

The contest was started to highlight potential problems with the Government’s new religious hatred legislation.

Religious leaders from churches across the denominational spectrum, as well as secularists and comics such as Rowan Atkinson, are united in opposition to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which had its third reading in July.

The Bill, which will now go to the Lords, where it is expected to arouse strong opposition, recommends a maximum seven-year jail sentence for anyone convicted of intending to stir up religious hatred. More than 1,000 church leaders have petitioned Downing Street urging Tony Blair to abandon it.

Steve Goddard, of ShipofFools, said that he did not know whether anyone who told any of the winning jokes would be liable for prosecution under the new legislation. Ministers have offered repeated reassurances that the aim of the Bill is not to limit legitimate freedom of speech. But those opposed to it fear that self-censorship could make some subjects off limits.

Simon Jenkins, the editor of ShipofFools, said:
There is a lot of talk about religious offence but not enough specific discussion on the boundaries. Ridiculing some religious beliefs, criticising absurd religious practices and offending religious people was a way of life for Old Testament prophets. It’s not a freedom so much as a responsibility.


20th August   Video Games Cause Aggressive Blame Behaviour

Based on an article from The Times

Shoot 'em up video games increase aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents in the short and long term, according to a US analysis of 20 years of research.

Gamers are rated as more hostile by their teachers, are more likely to argue with authority figures and are more likely to be involved in altercations with other students at school. They also tend to perform more poorly on academic tasks.

Researchers from Saint Leo University, in Florida, told the American Psychological Association’s annual conference yesterday, in Washington, that young people who played violent video games — even for a short period — showed an increase in aggressive behaviour afterwards.

Boys, who tend to play games for longer than girls, are supposedly particularly at risk. But girls who play violent games also supposedly demonstrate aggressive behaviour. After playing they prefer to interact with aggressive toys and are more aggressive when interacting with other children.

Kevin Kieffer, one of the researchers, said that players of violent video games tend to imitate the moves that they just acted out in the game they played . Children who play violent karate games on screen then use the same behaviour when playing with friends.

The analysis comes as a mother condemned the British makers of a game in which players act as bullies. On Thursday, Giselle Pakeerah, who blames the murder of her son on a violent video game, called for the game to be banned. Bully features a pupil beating up classmates. She claims that the game Manhunt inspired Warren Leblanc to kill her son last February. Leblanc has been jailed for life, although Manhunt did not feature in the prosecution case against him. Manhunt and Bully are made by Rockstar Games.


20th August   Naked Deception

As soon as it comes to sexual materials then the various advertising watchdogs suddenly decide that it is OK to mislead people. I think they must believe that people who like adult entertainment deserve to be deceived.

From Brand Republic

The advertising watchdog has rejected a complaint for an ad for the ballet Naked , made by someone who was disappointed that the performers stayed fully clothed throughout the show.

A member of the public from Surrey complained about the leaflet promoting the Ballet Boyz production of Naked . It had shown the title of the ballet, with the letter "A" formed by dancers who appeared to be naked and in a pose that seemed to be sexually suggestive.

The complainant said that the image was not taken from the ballet. Furthermore, she objected that the show contained no scenes of an adult nature, as stated on the leaflet .

The Advertising Standards Authority turned down the complaint saying that, despite no nakedness, the ballet was sensual in its nature.

Because it understood that the back projections for the performance featured dancers who were naked from the waist up and the general tone of the ballet was sensual, the authority concluded that readers were unlikely to be materially misled by the leaflet, the ASA said.


15th August   Strangling Our Freedoms

From The Telegraph

Measures to combat violent pornography on the internet are to be announced by the Government after international talks aimed at blocking websites that glamorise necrophilia, female strangulation and torture.

The proposals, to be outlined in the next few months, are expected to mirror moves taken to tackle internet child pornography and to include the strengthening of police powers to pursue offenders. Earlier this year, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, met the mother of Jane Longhurst a teacher who was murdered by a male friend who was addicted to violent internet pornography.

The websites he frequented, many accessed free, featured photographs of women being strangled, hanged and abused, descriptions of necrophiliac acts and claims that women saw strangulation as the ultimate sexual thrill.

The Government said then that it was concerned about the availability of such material and was examining measures to combat it.

Currently, there is a lack of international agreement on what constitutes obscene, and therefore illegal, images. Most sites carrying images of rape, necrophilia and asphyxia are registered abroad and not subject to British law.

The sites tend not to feature child pornography, which galvanises much of the international effort to tackle pornography on the internet.

Any British site which carries violent pornography can be closed down, but it is legal to view and download such images from overseas websites. New legislation could be introduced making it an offence to view such sites.

We want to do all we can to block access to illegal sites, a Home Office spokesman said yesterday. Frank Glen, of the Internet Watch Foundation, which promotes voluntary self-regulation, said at present it could investigate only websites based in Britain. We cannot tell countries to take down material that may be legitimate within their own jurisdiction. At the moment, if you pay to join these sites, view the images or download them you are not breaking UK law.

The Government is looking at ways of blocking access in Britain to websites hosted abroad. Discussions on this have been held between the G8 countries and with the internet industry. The Government may also look at working with internet service providers and credit card companies, through which people to pay to access violent pornography on the web.


11th August   Naked Prudery in Skipton

From Yorkshire Post Today

A woman magistrates' chairman yesterday refused to allow the Naked Rambler arrested on his 900-mile walk from Lands End to John o' Groats to appear before her without his clothes.

Stephen Gough and two friends, Melanie Roberts and Jeff Woodhouse, were arrested after shopping naked, except for their boots, in the Late Shop at Gargrave, near Skipton, on Monday.

Two were bailed to appear before Skipton magistrates this morning, but Gough remained in custody overnight and appeared before Harrogate magistrates yesterday. Bench chairman Marion Simon and two other magistrates heard he had been charged with using insulting behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Gough, who had refused to put on his clothes for the court appearance, remained in the cells while Mark Haigh, prosecuting, told the bench he had no objection to bail being granted until September 6.

After the magistrates agreed, court clerk Andrew Barton was sent to the cells to tell Gough he was being bailed on condition he did not enter North Yorkshire except to attend court.

When Gough agreed, Barton warned him that he would be rearrested by North Yorkshire Police if he attempted to leave the court building in Victoria Avenue without putting on his clothes.

But Gough refused to get dressed and was arrested inside the court entrance by a female police officer as he tried to leave wearing only his boots along with his rucksack.

The three are being followed by a TV production crew who said they were making a documentary for the BBC.


9th August   Melon Farmers make the Erotic Awards Finalists

The Melon Farmers are proud to have reached the finals for the Erotic Awards. It is an honour to be part of the good work done in promoting generosity and enjoyment of sex.

See the Erotic Awards Exhibition throughout August 2005 at:
Coffee, Cake & Kink Gallery
61 Endell Street
London WC2

See Sexual Freedom Coalition page for details about the awards, exhibition and the climax at the Night of the Senses

Finalists were nominated by the public and selected by our Grand Jury of Conspicuous Sensuality. The performers were judged at a preview night -
SHOWCASE - at Hoxton Hall on Thursday 9th June.

The Erotic Awards is a celebration rather than serious competition, and selecting the winner is an almost impossible task. However, the judges will shortly be making our decisions and the announcements will be made at the Night of the Senses at SeOne on 3rd September

Francesco D'Isa
The Secret Museum

Melonfarmers Website
The Pleasure Project
UK Network of Sex Work Projects

Lost Vagueness
Our Place for Fun
Rude Revels

Athos de Oliveira
Carley Hague
State of Undress

Nine Songs
Torremolinos 73

Made in Secret - the Story of the East Van Collective
Modern Loving
Street Heat II

Boutique Boutique
Emotional Bliss
Midnight Sex Talk

Betty Dodson

Al Batros
Miss Lily White
Porn Puppet Show

Jonathan Root
Ben Westwood

Love and Lust by Donna Ferrato
The Robert Crumb Handbook
Shooting Sex by Bob Carlos Clark

Sh! Women's Erotic Emporium

GI G-Spot
Gypsy Charms
Ima Doll

Sunny / Snake Boy

Wendy – Soho Maid


Toni Bentley
Emily Dubberley
Andy Quan

Eleni Stephani


Andrea Semple - Administrator
Havana Marking - Film
Lara Clifton - Whoopee Club
Ruth Frost - Striptease
Nigel Smith - Striptease Scientist
Suzanne Noble - PR
Tania Glyde Literature and Websites
Thierry Muller - Artistic Director
Tulloch Chair and Stage Manager
Tuppy Owens - Director
Victor Arwas - Editions Graphiques


7th August

    Telephone Licence

From The Sunday Herald

The arrival of mobile phone television services in Britain is tipped to create a multi- million pound nightmare for regulatory authorities as controversy over the new gadgets' legal status prompts calls for a wholesale review of the country's TV licensing laws.

The proliferation of services allowing customers to watch television shows on their mobile handsets has exposed flaws in current legislation which could see the Treasury missing out on its cut of a sales explosion.

Now, fearing that the fallout from a clash between phone companies and regulatory bodies could result in industry chaos , the sector's top analysts are calling for a fundamental reassessment of the UK's broadcasting regulations.

We are facing a major issue here. The television licensing laws as they stand cannot cope with the TV-to-mobile revolution, which has created implications for the collection of licensing fees, the authorities' ability to enforce a code of standards and the future status of public broadcasters , said David McQueen, senior telecoms and media consultant at analysts Informa.

Only recently introduced, TV-to-mobile services are set to explode over the coming years. In May, Orange launched a service providing a nine-channel line-up including ITN News& CNN. O2 is due to begin it's own trials next month in collaboration with NTL. Virgin Mobile's test service is also currently up and running and a similar Vodafone offering is in the advanced planning stages.

While universally acclaimed as "the next big thing", controversy has flared up over the question of whether the new television-enabled handsets should be subject to the same licence fees as an ordinary set. Orange believes that they should, and has committed to informing Television Licensing authorities within 28 days of a customer purchasing such a unit. This, unsurprisingly, is the position supported by the regulators. By law, anyone using receiving equipment to watch or record television programme services must be covered by a valid TV licence. Mobile phones capable of receiving television programme services live, or virtually live, would come under that definition, said a spokesman for TV Licensing.

While seemingly straightforward, the definition of what constitutes live or virtually live programming has provided a platform for dispute. Pointing out that their service essentially comprises video clips rather than live broadcasting, O2's current position is that the facility should not be subject to a licence fee. The company has approached Ofcom for clarification.

Under current rules, if you have a TV licence for your main address then you will also be covered for any television equipment powered by its own internal battery. Therefore anyone with no set at home would need to purchase a licence after buying one of the new handsets, as would anybody watching such a unit while plugged into the mains power supply.

That legal situation might seem relatively clear, but most experts suggest that it would prove virtually unenforceable. Will inspectors lurk at every corner ogling handsets, or at least the equivalent of the TV detector van adapted to mobiles? Perhaps they can subcontract it to the traffic wardens , said Michael Ridley, a veteran of distribution contracts with the BBC. This is almost certainly insane. It may be legally correct but will be a nightmare in implementation terms and, unless they can devise a workable solution, should be reconsidered, because having discredited laws only damages the overall system itself.

Licensing rules aside, the mobile television revolution is also raising other issues, such as how ethical codes like the watershed agreement could be enforced and whether the BBC, also planning its own mobile channel, would be breaching its own charter by charging for the service.


28th July   Nutters Offended by the L Word given the F Word

From the BBC

A poster for a lesbian drama on Living TV has prompted almost 650 complaints - but they have been rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The 646 complaints said posters for The L Word , which showed semi-naked women in body oil, were offensive, degrading and unsuitable to be seen by children. It is the most complaints for a single advert the ASA has received this year.

But the watchdog said the images were not sexually explicit and accurately reflected the show's content. The campaign's four posters included pictures of women wearing knickers bearing slogans such as "Girls Allowed" and "Hello Girls".

They were advertising the second series of the US drama, which follows a group of gay women in West Hollywood, and began on the Living channel last month.

The ASA acknowledged the posters had offended some people, but ruled that they were "unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence".

Living TV argued that the images were not gratuitous or explicit but referred to the sexual nature of the programme in a playful manner . The posters were kept away from schools and religious establishments and did not contain anything the public had not seen on posters before, the satellite and cable broadcaster added.


25th July   Prudery at Wem

From the BBC

Magistrates heard a case in cells after a nude walker refused to get dressed to appear in court.

Stephen Gough his girlfriend Melanie Green and male companion Jeffrey Woodhouse arrived in Wem, Shropshire, on Tuesday.  West Mercia Police said they arrested the trio, who are attempting to walk across Britain naked, after a complaint from a member of the public. All three have been asked to return to court in Shrewsbury on 15 August. Green did agree to dress for her appearance at Shrewsbury Magistrates' Court but the two men refused. All three denied a charge of causing a breach of the peace.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: We had a call from a member of the public that there were some naked people near Wem. When we found them we asked them to cover up, but they refused. We had no choice but to arrest them.

Gough was arrested 14 times and served two jail sentences during an unclothed trek from Land's End to John O'Groats in 2003/04.

As he set off with his two friends on the same 887-mile walk last month, Gough, a former marine, accepted they ran the risk of arrest. It is the first time the trio have been detained since they began their journey.

The two-month trek across Britain is intended to challenge people's attitudes to public nudity, something which Gough believes should be a basic human right.


22nd July   Naked Intolerance

Based on an article from ic Liverpool

Six naked sunbathers have been fined in an an action against supposedly illegal naturism at a Merseyside beauty spot visited by families. The sun worshippers were caught without their clothes on at sand dunes in Ainsdale, Merseyside. They were fined £80 each for public order offences as part of Operation Crow, which aims to combat nude sunbathing.

PC John Schofield, of Merseyside Police, said: After we received a number of complaints from both visitors and residents in the area, we decided to launch an operation to stop this type of behaviour. This type of activity is not acceptable to the many families with young children who like to go out and enjoy the sand dunes on a sunny afternoon. We will continue to address this problem and will give penalty notices to anyone responsible for public order offences.

The sunbathers were caught during a two-day operation which took place last week. Police say the operation will continue through the summer.


12th July   Regulation On Demand

From The Times

Europe wants to begin to regulate the internet for the first time by introducing controversial rules to cover television online.

Brussels is considering regulating areas such as taste and decency, accuracy and impartiality for internet broadcasters. More broadly, it is thinking about relaxing rules governing the frequency and amount of advertising on television.

The proposals are expected to prompt an immediate battle because Ofcom, the media regulator, believes that traditionally strict broadcast regulations should not be extended to the internet.

Viviane Reding, the European Information Commissioner, will set out the idea today as part of the biggest revision of European television regulation since 1989.

She will unveil five “issues papers”, one of which will discuss the impact of technological change since then, and conclude that “non-linear audio-visual content”, television downloads, needs to be subject to regulation.

Some of the changes mooted, such as the extension of rules governing the protection of children, are unlikely to be controversial, but others, such as the need for internet broadcasters to provide a statutory right of reply, are likely to provoke fierce debate.

Tim Suter, Ofcom’s partner for content and standards, said: Whatever happens, it is not appropriate to take the set of rules that apply to television and apply them to other media. Where possible, we should be looking at self-regulation or co-regulation, because that is something that can deliver the goods.

The idea is that any website trying to make money from broadcasting television, perhaps by providing video clips in addition to text, could be brought into the net. However, Commission officials say that the rules for websites will be less strict than those currently applying to the BBC.

Today, television delivered via the internet is unregulated in Britain. There is, therefore, nobody with legal power to force an internet broadcaster to respect rules governing accuracy and impartiality or taste and decency that apply to all other analogue and digital broadcasters.

Home Choice, the leading internet television broadcaster, has formed its own self-regulatory body, which mirrors most of the existing rules. Ofcom believes that this approach is sufficient for responsible broadcasters, while any others are likely to operate offshore from jurisdictions beyond the European Union’s reach.

The new rules will come out of a rewrite of Television Without Frontiers, the 1989 European directive that set the benchmark for television regulation.

Although the issues papers to be published tomorrow will not contain firm conclusions, broadcasters will have until September 5 to respond in writing. A draft directive will be produced at the end of this year.

As well as covering internet regulation, the consultation documents will signal a liberalising of the prescriptive regulations covering the amount of advertising that a TV channel can sho, an existing limit of 12 minutes an hour, is likely to be scrapped.


8th July   Liverpool to be Closed to Children for a Day

Is that all councillors do all day? dream up totally unnecessary licensing conditions

From ic Liverpoo l

The first screening of a porn movie in a Liverpool public cinema has been postponed. Special measures may be introduced before the film Deep Throat can be shown at the Fact arts centre in Wood Street.

Scheduled screenings of the 1970s movie tomorrow and Saturday, have been shelved after calls for a report. The city licensing committee will now decide on July 20. A council spokesman said: It may involve insisting this is the only film shown in the complex on a set day, to ensure no children are in the vicinity.

The R18 certificate requires a stipulated yes or no decision.

Darren Newsham, manager of City Screen, franchise company for the three cinema screens, said: Deep Throat is as much a piece of cinematic history as well as the most notorious porn film ever made. Fact has already shown the documentary follow-up to the movie, Inside Deep Throat . Two hundred people turned up for that on June 24.

Two new prints of Deep Throat have been shown in Brighton and Edinburgh. In Brighton, permission was unconditionally granted, whereas in Edinburgh patrons had to have ID cards and join a special club for the night, after complaints by anti-porn campaigners.

Darren Newsham said:
We are not expecting a problem in Liverpool. What we are involved in is a matter of council procedure.


6th July   Deep Throat Timed Out

From The Times

Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) today scrapped screenings of the R18 film Deep Throat at its Nethergate cinema later this month.

Ironically, the decision was taken as city licensing chiefs said DCA would not be able to show the full, uncut version as scheduled because they didn’t have permission. DCA director Clive Gillman said the arts centre would now go ahead with screenings of the accompanying documentary only.

Gillman said, however, that they were “very conscious” of the sensitivities of certain groups opposed to the movie being shown. The documentary will still be shown, and we will look to structure something around that to allow all voices to be heard from both sides.

The programming of the film, alongside a documentary, prompted outrage from some women’s organisations, who claimed it condoned the exploitation of women.

Licensing committee convener Bruce Mackie said the film could not have been shown over six days at the end of this month because it has a R18 classification. DCA does not have the necessary permission to screen films with this special classification. DCA only asked the council in the last few days for permission to show the film alongside the documentary, and both as 18 certificates. This would have needed a meeting of the licensing committee, but this is not possible because the council is in recess and standing orders only allow special licensing committee meetings to be called to discuss matters of extreme urgency.

A formal complaint about the screenings had been made by the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, while another group said there was no such thing as “victimless pornography”.

City council administration leader Jill Shimi said as the licensing hitch was revealed,
This is neither about censorship nor endorsement. The simple facts are that DCA did not apply in time for permission to screen the film. As a result, the licensing committee was not given the opportunity to consider the matter fully.”


3rd July   Awe Inspiring Persecution

Just imagine the life shattering consequences of being innocent and accused of child porn offences. Those responsible for such unfounded accusations are destroying lives. They are proving themselves to be no better than the criminals they are pursuing.

It has been talked about for a long time that a payment to Landslide was to allow access to a many websites, Only some of these contained child porn and in general subscribers paid the credit card operation to access perfectly legal adult sites. It appears that someone simply lied that these adult subscribers knew in advance about the child porn sites that were also in the package. The devastation caused by such lies is immeasurable as is that caused by the prolonged refusal to accept the evidence by our own persecution service. Shame on them all.

From The Times

Dozens of men accused of downloading child pornography from the internet may have been wrongly prosecuted, according to expert prosecution and defence witnesses.

New evidence suggests that Operation Ore, Britain’s biggest child pornography investigation, may have prosecuted innocent men on the basis of discredited American police testimony and questionable forensic methods.

Jim Bates, a computer expert who has served as a witness for the prosecution or the defence in more than 100 child porn cases, says many Ore cases are now likely to collapse or be overturned in the Court of Appeal. It has been a shambles from the word go , he said.

The nationwide police investigation was launched three years ago after a list of 7,200 British suspects was supplied to British police by American authorities. The men on the list stand accused of having used their credit cards to pay for child porn through Landslide, a sex website that operated in Texas from 1996-9.

The accusations have led to 33 suicides, most recently that of Commodore David White, the commander of British forces in Gibraltar. He was found dead in his swimming pool on January 8.

Bates believes records of credit card transactions on the site are unreliable and therefore the names of alleged subscribers cannot be used as evidence.

Thomas Reedy, the man who set up the website, was investigated by the FBI in the 1990s for credit card fraud. I am convinced that a massive fraud has been perpetrated at Landslide and an unknown number of subscriptions are fake , said Bates.

He cites the case of Dr Paul Grout, a senior accident specialist at Hull Royal Infirmary, who was falsely accused of accessing child porn. Grout, who was praised for his help at the 2001 Selby rail crash, lost his £70,000-a-year job because of the allegations. Many of his friends “drifted off” and he and his wife Susie endured huge strains on their marriage.

It was not until his case came to Hull crown court in April last year that the Yorkshire doctor was able to prove his innocence. His lawyers showed that, while Grout had used his credit card to pay for a meal in a restaurant in Yorkshire, someone else had been using it 5,000 miles away in Lake Tahoe, America.

In a case that legal experts believe may prove a landmark judgment, Judge David Bentley threw out the prosecution argument. In his judgment, Bentley dismissed some police evidence as “utter nonsense”. He said the way the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had held back some information vital to Grout’s defence had “stunk of unfairness”.

Another computer user wrongly accused of downloading child pornography was Robert Del Naja, frontman of the group Massive Attack. His arrest in February 2003 was leaked to the media but the case against him was dropped less than a month later.

One police officer, Peter Johnston, became so disillusioned at what he described as the Ore “witch-hunt” that he resigned from his job with Merseyside police.

In a letter to The Sunday Times, Johnston said: I began to doubt the validity of the evidence surrounding the circumstances of the initial investigation in America . . . I found it difficult to rationalise how offenders had been identified solely on a credit card number.

Bates believes that evidence, highlighted by Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist and an expert witness in some Ore cases, could lead to many cases being dropped.

In an article in last week’s Sunday Times, Campbell revealed that sworn statements provided in British courts by two American detectives who initiated Operation Ore could no longer be relied upon.

The two, Dallas detective Steve Nelson and US postal inspector Michael Mead, had claimed that everyone who went to Landslide always did so through a front-page screen button saying “Click Here (for) Child Porn”.

But Campbell has established that the button was never on the website’s front page. Instead it was on an advertisement for another website buried deep in the Landslide website.

That discovery has effectively removed a key plank of many of the Ore prosecutions where no actual child porn was found. Those prosecutions were based on the assertion that evidence that someone had paid to access Landslide automatically meant that they had paid to access child porn.

Steve Barker, a solicitor who acts for one Operation Ore suspect in a High Court appeal, said that in many prosecutions police were unable to disprove defendants had simply accessed legal adult porn rather than paedophile material. In other cases, child porn might have been accessed accidentally by those looking for adult porn.

The CPS has also disclosed that an internal inquiry has raised serious questions over the evidence provided by Brian Underhill, a key police witness in some 600 Ore cases. The CPS said it would now disclose the doubts raised by its inquiry to defence solicitors before future trials began.

The CPS last week defended its role in the hundreds of successful cases in which defendants had pleaded guilty. A spokeswoman said:
Each case was considered on its own merits and the evidence provided by police has been subject to thorough scrutiny.


2nd July   People Love Porn

From AVN

A recent debate on the subject at the Oxford Union ended up carrying for the affirmative the motion that porn is beneficial in society.

Arguments used to help carry the motion included porn acting as a "safety valve" for relieving sexual tension and thus reducing the likelihood of sex crimes; porn being valuable in sex therapy; porn spicing up millions of couples' sex lives, and porn providing rich fantasy lives for the partnerless or those in "a dull relationship," among other considerations.

Porn is used to educate and help people accept sexual activities better, according to an Oxford abstract of the debate arguments. Most men know that cocks vary a lot in size and shape and so don't worry about being weird, but women often worry, especially nervous that they played with themselves and made the labia become weird shapes. By looking at photos of all the various kinds of vulva, women learn to relax about themselves.

Debaters also referred to a clergyman, Rev. Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, who spoke of a magazine survey of London West End film houses at midday, where surveyors found four times the viewers in "uncomfortable seats" in small adult theaters than in "plush cinemas showing big movies." The conclusion: a resounding "People love porn!"

The affirmative also carried the day, the Oxford abstract suggested, thanks in part to an old standard argument often thought to be a negative: People love to be shocked. Seeing something shocking challenges everyday standards, helps people put things into perspective, makes life less grey, and is cathartic – bringing all your repressed emotions to the surface and thus refreshing you.

As to why banning porn would hurt society, the debaters concluded a ban would be an insult to people ( If we can see pictures of everything else, why not sex? ), the authorities get to see it but the people don't, and banning means no freedom of choice.


24th June   Police Vandalis m

From the BBC
From Index on Censorship

An Indymedia server has been seized in a police raid on a home in Bristol. Indymedia says the raid was an attack on press freedom

The raid is understood to have been prompted by a message on the site concerning rail vandalism. A 30-year-old man was arrested, and bailed, on suspicion of incitement to commit criminal damage.

A statement on Indymedia UK said: Police demanded access to the server to gain the IP details of a posting. Once obtained, the IP address can then be used by internet service providers to track down computer users.

Tim Lezard, president of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), added: We are obviously not happy that police have closed the server. We are supposed to be a free press. Will people read a post and take action?

The raid and arrest were carried out by the British Transport Police. A spokesman said: "
This is not unusual. When we get wind of graffiti, for example, we often do house searches.

A week before the 27 June raid, police demanded access to the server to gain the IP details of a message posted on the website - one method of tracking the originator of the message. The message itself had been deemed to breach the Bristol Indymedia groups editorial guidelines and had been removed from view on the site.

The alternative media outlet is receiving advice from civil liberties organisations and the National Union of Journalists. The raid was linked to preparations for Group of Eight richest nations in Scotland; in October 2003, just prior to the European Social Forum, Indymedia servers in London were similarly seized by police.


On Monday 27th June the police raided a residential property in Bristol and seized an Indymedia server and other computer equipment. They also arrested one person for incitement to criminal damage under common law. That person has since been released on bail. We see this police action as an attack on the freedom of speech and journalistic independence.

This police action relates to an article posted on 17th June in which persons unknown claimed to have damaged cars being transported on a train. This article was considered by Bristol Indymedia to have breached the guidelines and was hidden.

On Monday 20th the police contacted Bristol Indymedia with reference to this posting. Bristol Indymedia informed the police that they were in the process of instructing a solicitor to reply on their behalf. On Tuesday 21st the police contacted a Bristol Indymedia volunteer requesting the IP logs. Bristol Indymedia considered that the system was journalistic material covered by special provision under the law.

A solicitor from Liberty faxed the police explaining this provision. The police then contacted Bristol Indymedia to request a meeting which Bristol Indymedia agreed to. Ten minutes before the arranged meeting DI Bennett of British Transport Police cancelled the meeting and asked to postpone it.

The next police contact was the seizure of the server and the arrest of a Bristol Indymedia volunteer. The seizure of the server was carried out under a search warrant (police and criminal evidence act 1984, ss.8 and 15), not recognising the journalistic privilege.

Additional Statement:
We are outraged at the actions of the police. They have completely disabled the entire Bristol Indymedia news service. By their actions they have undermined the principle of open publishing and free access to the media, thereby removing people's opportunity to read and report their own news. This situation has serious implications for anyone providing a news service on the Internet. We do not intend to let this stop us from continuing the project.

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