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28th December   

Comment: Where's the evidence?...

Dangerous Pictures Act: No evidence and careless drafting
Link Here

The government is well on its way to criminalise possession of 'extreme pornography' without proper research into its effects.

Call me naive but I am surprised and aghast: in particular, that this Bill will go through with no proper public debate. Tucked away in Section 6 is the nasty piece of legislation which will define many kinds of sexual behaviour as inherently deviant and criminal. You won't need to have actually indulged in these acts yourself to be brought within the ambit of the law - possessing an image of it will do, and could get you three years in jail.

The Justice Ministry claims that "increasing public concern about extreme pornography" makes this legislation necessary. But it seems that only a few members of the public actually know about or have seen the kinds of material that will fall under the legislation. A further claim is made, that were it not for the availability of "extreme pornography", Graham Coutts would not have murdered the schoolteacher Jane Longhurst -a claim that attempts to silence any objection to the Bill as evidence of not caring about the tragic death of a young woman.

There are a number of problems with this reactionary Bill. As Rabinder Singh QC concluded, the legislation is probably incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. But of particular concern to me is the enthusiastic pushing through of this Bill with no public debate and no examination of the government's central claim that merely looking at pornography causes aberrant behaviour.

It is in the promulgation of this particular claim that the ministry has effected a sleight of hand, first in refusing to engage with any of the objections to the original consultation document offered by researchers and academics whose careers and reputations have been built on the examination of taboo media forms and their audiences. Thus the Bill has no intellectual or evidential base for its claims.

Secondly, in order to present some semblance of substantiation rather than the rhetoric of the moral crusader, a "rapid evidence assessment" was commissioned. Again, academics with expertise in the study of media were overlooked in favour of three professors known for their anti-porn views and their PhD students who have produced an entirely one-sided account focusing on some of the most discredited lab-based studies as ad hoc justification for the legislation. As a colleague puts, it "You might as well ask Esso to investigate the role of the oil industry in global warming." Academic research which might undermine the central premise that pornography causes harm was completely ignored and now, in parliamentary debates, this document is quoted and used as if it represented a comprehensive review of the current state of research.

The government has no evidential base for the legislation and has been entirely careless in its drafting of the particular provisions relating to pornography - its definitions of what constitutes porn are so loose that there are real dangers that all kinds of material currently available will fall under the watchful gaze of the police and moral entrepreneurs. Indeed, this is precisely what supporters of the provisions hope for: that in succeeding against "extreme" materials, they will be able to move forward to ensure that no one has access to sexually explicit materials, hard or soft. The particular problem with this legislation is that it sows the tendentious belief that pornography does things to people, that it is a form of "heroin for the eyes", creating monsters of its viewers. Once it is enshrined in law, there will be no need to understand tastes and pleasures or to research people's use of porn, it will simply be identified as criminal behaviour. The government has not and cannot make a compelling case for this legislation; we should be calling the ministry to account.

Comment: A call for campaign support

From freeworld on the Melon Farmers Forum

Can I suggest as many people as possible write to the Ministry of Injustice, asking for the prompt release of the legal advice saying the measures are compatible with the Human Rights Act/European Convention of Human Rights

This in the light of HR barrister Rabinder Singh's conclusion that said measures give cause for real concerns about their compatibility.

Personally, I doubt the existence of any advice at all (or maybe they are hiding advice which says the measures aren't compatible?) Legal advice like this is probably only covered by a qualified exemption to its release-dependent on public interest. There is obviously a strong case for public interest over advice as to the compatibility of this proposed law, which the Ministry of Injustice themselves admit interferes with Article 8 (Private family life) and 10 (freedom of expression) of the HRA/ECHR .


20th December   

Update: Extreme Hopes...

Harry Cohen's amendments to extreme porn bill re-submitted
Link Here

Harry Cohen has re-submitted his amendments to the Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill Part 7 Criminal Law:

Page 65, line 17 [Clause 94], leave out ‘appears to have' and insert ‘has'.
Page 65, line 20 [Clause 94], leave out ‘appears to have' and insert ‘has'.
Page 65, line 27 [Clause 94], leave out ‘it appears that'.
Page 65, line 33 [Clause 94], leave out from ‘which' to end and insert ‘results in a person's death or a life-threatening injury,'.
Page 65, line 34 [Clause 94], leave out from first ‘in' to end of line.
Page 65, line 36 [Clause 94], leave out ‘or appears to involve'.
Page 65, line 38 [Clause 94], leave out ‘or appearing to perform'.
Page 65, line 40 [Clause 94], leave out ‘or appears to be'.

Write to your own MP and ask them to support these amendments

These amendments would ensure that people wouldn't be prosecuted for possessing legally produced images with staged violence.

Forum members have commented that hopefully these amendments may have been accepted by bill sponsors after some heavyweight opposition and concerns about human rights compatibility

17th October    Extremely Poor Research ...
Laying into the government's case for Dangerous Pictures law

Letter writerLetter to Parliament from

  • Martin Barker (Professor of Film & Television Studies, Aberystwyth – director of 2007 BBFC-funded research project into audience responses to screened sexual violence)
  • Clarissa Smith (Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies, Sunderland - author of One for the Girls: The Pleasures and Practices of Porn for Women, Intellect, 2007)

To the Committee on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

As academics and researchers working in the fields of film, media, cultural studies and social science we would like to make the following submission to the committee. In view of the shortness of time to put our concerns to the committee, this submission is brief and to the point, we trust that the issues raised will be given due consideration by the committee and that a further more detailed submission will be made possible.

Our concerns relate to Section 6 of the proposed bill on the Criminalisation of the Possession of Extreme Pornography and are as follows:

  1. The necessity for the legislation appears to rest on an amorphous ‘increasing public concern’ about ‘extreme’ pornography – the evidence base for this public disquiet is not offered. As researchers in the field we are aware of a long history of evidence that panics about troublesome media forms are not innocent of their own politics and prejudices.
  2. The definitions of the materials to be legislated against are vague. The proposal and its supporting documents are littered with vague and problematic terms relating to the production and consumption of pornographic materials. In particular, we are extremely concerned by the intention to criminalise images which ‘appear to be real’. Aside from the bluntness of this instrument, the term demonstrates ignorance of the vast body of research which has examined the complexities of viewers understandings and relationships to the ‘real’.
  3. Claims that pornographic materials are easily characterised by being ‘clearly for purposes of sexual gratification’ ignores the considerable research evidence that pornography of all kinds has no such singular purpose.
  4. Previous research into problematic media has demonstrated that emotive terms such as ‘violent’ and ‘extreme’ frequently act as code-words for objections based on moral, political and taste grounds
  5. The proposed law is underpinned by unexamined and unproven causal claims of a link between viewing and perpetrating illegal acts – there is a substantial body of research evidence which entirely refutes these claims and which the consultation process has so far chosen to ignore.
  6. There has been no proper opportunity for the presentation of alternative research evidence into culturally controversial media forms.
  7. The evidence presented in the Rapid Evidence Assessment is extremely poor, based on contested findings and accumulated results. It is one-sided and simply ignores the considerable research tradition into ‘extreme’ (be they violent or sexually explicit) materials within the UK’s Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. The proposers of the Bill have made no effort to seek out research which investigates how viewers of pornographic materials understand their practices – the effects of ‘extreme’ pornography are assumed and ascribed to ‘problem individuals’ – further research is required which does not presume effects of a singularly harmful kind.
  9. The supporting documents for the proposed Bill draws on the emotive language and hyperbole of moral campaigns, a law drafted on this basis cannot be reliable.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns with the Committee in detail and should the Committee require further information and evidence we would be willing to prepare a more comprehensive submission.


14th October    Extreme Porn in Buckingham Palace? ...
Perhaps the Queen should be made aware of the penalties

Annibale Carracci: Painting of Leda and a swanThe City of London police have been in, and, says Graham Sheffield, artistic director of the Barbican: they are completely cool. We're kosher. The first ever mainstream exhibition devoted to sex was therefore opened to the public on Friday for the next three months.

Graphic hardly does justice to the romp through 2,000 years of art history's frankest moments. But the organisers argue that context is all: which is why Robert Mapplethorpe's fetish photographs; Nan Goldin's slide of a man ejaculating while having sex with his male partner; even an eye-opening 18th century Arabic manuscript illustrating 10 men having group sex, are all absolutely fine by the police.

Another interpretation of Leda and the swanThis is a serious, art-historical exhibition, which is why even potentially controversial material - such as certain photographs by Goldin showing nude children as part of her sometimes explicit work Heartbeat - is, according to the curators, acceptable.

The Queen, it turns out, is the unlikely keeper of some of the more explicit material - including Annibale Carracci's 16th-century pen and ink drawing of Leda, from classical myth, making out particularly enthusiastically with a swan, the god Jupiter in disguise.

The exhibition entitled, Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now , is now open to over-18s


12th October    Parliamentary Bollox ...
Summary of the 2nd Reading of the Dangerous Pictures Bill

House of Commons logoJackboots Straw introduced the Criminal Injustice & Immigration Bill and Nick Herbert responded for the Tories.

David Lepper got up and waxed lyrical about the various newspapers who’d helped in the campaign and the 50,000 signatures which had been raised. He described how extreme pornography had fuelled the fantasies of Graham Coutts. According to him the law didn’t go far enough, as he would like to see the sites themselves tackled at source.

Salter made an intervention and added that 180 signatures had been gathered from MPs against sites like necrobabes and hangingbitches. He pointed out that no new offence as such was being created as this material was already illegal to publish under existing OPA law.

Lepper continued by welcoming the Tory commitment to support this part of the bill. He proposed the passage of this law as a memorial to Jane Longhurst.

Paul Beresford stated that he’d like to see computer generated imagery included. Though it was fairly unclear if he was talking about child porn or extreme pornography by then.
As he seemed to begin on the latter subject but end on the former.

Martin Salter then rose and began demanding ‘Justice for Jane’. Coutts had confessed to beign an addict to violent porn. He repeated that the material was already illegal to publish in the UK. Women abroad were being ‘captured, raped and killed’ for sexual entertainment and profit.

The law was well-crafted, sensible and well thought through . He insisted this was not a new level of censorship. Weird people (sado masochists were belittled and their ‘munches’) could still go about their weird business. But there was no need for them to place their stuff on the net. He had no need to see it. Neither had the public. Those of an unbalanced mind who could be tipped over the edge don’t have a need to see it.

Ideally he’d like to see the law go further. He’d like to see blocking mechanisms. All PCs fitted with blocking mechanism, just like cars have seatbelts. He’d like to see the law go after the credit card companies whose business lubricates this vile trade. He then read out a letter from Liz Longhurst which stated that, had it not been for the corrupting effects of this sites Jane Longhurst would still be alive.

Charles Walker declared he was concerned. Suggesting that the restrictions were not as good as they could be. He stated that he’d been told that extracts from a film such as Hostel II could be deemed illegal under this law. Then it is madness that such a film should be on general release!

Harry Cohen very briefly touched on the issue before dedicating himself to his main subject of youth offenders. He said he was worried about the wording of ‘appears to be’, saying that this could catch all sorts of things within the law.

Evan Harris read out a previous statement by Liberty that extreme caution should be used in legislating morality. The state should justify its reasons for such law, especially as most of the material would be consensual. There was no evidence base for some of this material needing to be banned. If it were already illegal under OPA, why were the OPA definitions not being used, instead of these new and much wider definitions?

13th October  Update:  Extremely Thoughtful ...
Dr Evan Harris contributes to parliamentary debate

House of Commons logoA few more details on the contribution to the 2nd Reading debate by Dr Evan Harris MP-Lib Dem:

Finally, on the issue of extreme pornography in part 6 of the Bill, as Liberty says in its briefing,

Extreme caution should be exercised when new criminal laws are imposed with the intention of imposing a subjective opinion on what is morally acceptable...the state should be required to provide justifications for legal restrictions on pornography, and to demonstrate that a proposed measure does not go further than is necessary.

Liberty goes on to say that it is vital that legitimate and undamaging behaviour is not unintentionally criminalised by carelessly drafted, over-broad criminal offences. It is concerned about the breadth of the proposed new offence, which might criminalise people who cause no harm to others and who possess pornographic material involving consensual participants.

Ministers have not provided an evidence base for some of the material that will be covered by the measure. Despite the eloquent testimony that Members have given about an individual case, if we do not have evidence that the material causes harm, it is right that the House should subject the proposals to close scrutiny. We must ask why, for example, the Obscene Publications Act definition is not being used, and why another definition, which, it is argued, is broader, is being used.

I can see no reference to compatibility with the Human Rights Act 1998 in the Government's explanatory memorandum, either; that will need to be tested. I would be grateful if, in his response, the Minister set out the evidence that justifies the measure. I understand that time is limited, so I shall leave my remarks there.

23rd October  Update:  Consenting to Amendment ...
Dangerous pictures amendments suggested to exempt staged violence

House of Commons logoSome good news on the Criminal Justice Bill.

Harry Cohen has suggested some good amendments such that all references to `appears to be` be dropped, meaning that the DPA now only applies to images of actual violence, and the following exemption from prosecution clauses have been added:

  • (a) an image of an act to which all participants in the production have consented
  • (b) an image the production of which involves fictional or staged acts performed by consenting actors
  • (c) an image produced for the purpose of responsible education

This would remove most, if not all, of the worries about this law being used against BDSM, horror movies, etc.

However David Hanson has tabled an amendment to register those receiving a 2 year sentence or more as sex offenders.

23rd November  Update:  Extreme Censorial Violence ...
Dangerous pictures bill continues unamended

House of Commons logoIt seems that Harry Cohen's sensible amendments did not impress the committee and have now been withdrawn.

A later amendment suggested by Liberty which creates the extra defence of reasonable belief that a person was not made to act against their will has also being dropped.

The Liberty amendment was said to be backed by 3 committee members but this was not sufficient.

The original nasty wording of the Dangerous Pictures Bill therefore continues on to the next stages.

It was reported that  the government have also turned it round from a bill supposedly justified on the basis of "harm to participants" to one they justify on grounds of "harm" to users-quoting their pathetic REA as "evidence".

24th November  Comment:  Victims of Politicians ...
Aftermath of the failed Dangerous Pictures amendments

House of Commons logoGareth Crossman, policy director at Liberty commented about the failure to the Dangerous Pictures Act amended:

I'm afraid the reality of Committee in the Commons is that the Government usually uses it's inbuilt majority to reject anything it doesn't want - which is pretty much everything usually.

Things are usually the same in report & 3rd reading stage (the final commons stages) unless you can persuade labour backbenchers to vote against the party whip and defeat the Government- a very difficult thing which has only happened twice in the lifetime of this Government (90 day detention & race and religious hatred).

As so often is the case the best chance of some concession lies in the Lords who can amend but must then have their amendments approved by the commons - something which does happen. I'd suggest Committee & report stages in the Lords as being your best bet.

Actually there is also hope of amendment via the JCHR who are a committee that scrutinise laws for compatibility with Human rights.

Here is an offsite link to a (long) paper about the incompatibility of the DPA. This contains a detailed rebuttal of the Ministry of Justice "case".

Comment: Turning Victims into Criminals

From Alan

Your latest report says: It was reported that the government have also turned it round from a bill supposedly justified on the basis of "harm to participants" to one they justify on grounds of "harm" to users-quoting their pathetic REA as "evidence".

Leaving aside for the moment the absurdity of the REA, already rubbished by forty competent academics, if "harm" is occasioned to the users, surely they're the victims? But the DPA will make them criminals. The logic of this is that someone who gets mugged should be thrown in jail, perhaps for wandering around dodgy areas looking vulnerable.

Of course, this is not the first volte-face. The initial consultation paper began with the premise that participants "didn't really" consent. This was clearly untenable, given the large number of blogs and websites in which participants make it abundantly clear that they take part willingly. So the government has now turned to justifying the legislation in terms of R. v. Brown (the Spanner case) and the legal fiction that a masochist cannot consent to "assault". Participants, too, have metamorphosed from victim to criminal.

25th November  Update:  Wise Words ...
Shadow Justice Ministers doubts human rights compatibility

House of Commons logoEdward Garnier, the Shadow Justice Minister/Lord Chancellor:

I thank hon. Members for their remarks this evening. There is evidently some difficulty, because what we are discussing, in terms of the amendment and the clause, OUGHT NOT TO BE A MATTER OF PERSONAL OPINION, but should be about how to alter the criminal law to afford protection to the people who are depicted or who may be victimised as a consequence of the making of a film.

Part 6 is interesting because it deals with extreme pornographic images, prostitution, the protection of nuclear facilities and penalties for breach of data protection, so it demonstrates the meccano-like nature of the Bill, if ever it needed to be demonstrated. I will not argue with any of the previous contributors about whether one should be free or not free to look at extreme pornographic images. We have had rather a dry discussion about whether clause 64 does the job that the Government—I assume—think it will do.

The first thing we must bear in mind is that the offence is not the production or the watching of extreme pornographic images, but their possession. That is the offence set out in clause 64(1). Let us compare that with clause 64(3) where “pornographic” is defined. It reads:

“An image is ‘pornographic’ if it appears to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.”

We will come on to discuss in a minute the difficulties over the use of the expression “appears to have” or “appears to be” which is found throughout the clause. An image could have been produced in identical form, but for different purposes. If I were to possess an extreme pornographic image which had been produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal, I would apparently be guilty, but if I produced exactly the same image, but it was not produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal, I would not be guilty of an offence. That is the first problem.

The second problem is encapsulated by the points made by the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead and is the subjective nature of the offence. To whom must it have appeared to have been produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal? Is it for the policemen or the vice squad who do the raid to decide that, even though they are hardened police officers who specialise in working in this area of criminal activity and are completely immune to it? I believe that there is department in New Scotland Yard where there are officers who spend eight hour shifts looking at this sort of stuff. One would have a different test if it was to be considered in the eyes of the man on the Clapham omnibus to have been produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal. There seems to be a problem that needs to be sorted out in addition to the difference between possession and production.

A little later in the clause one gets to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne raised in relation to the still and the moving film. Whereas one might be caught by the clause, the other probably is not. It strikes me, as one unpicks the clause, that it is RIVEN WITH UNCERTAINTIES , which will make its enforcement difficult. It will make its understanding by members of the public difficult and it will BRING THE LAW INTO DISREPUTE to some extent.

I will not have an argument now about whether article 10 of the European convention on human rights is brought into play. I am sure that the Secretary of State spent many hours considering the terms of clause 64 and article 10. I have to assume that because he has rubber stamped it on the front of the Bill the provisions are compatible with the convention rights. I AM NOT SO SURE ABOUT THAT, but there we are. He says it is and that is all we have to concern ourselves with for the moment.

Finally, I just want to attempt to give the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome some comfort. Proceedings for an offence under this section may not be instituted without the consent of the DPP. I HOPE THAT A SENSIBLE DPP, FACED WITH A CHARGE UNDER THIS CLAUSE AS CURRENTLY DRAFTED WOULD SAY "NO". But we cannot guarantee that.

Comment: Repressive Bilge

From freeworld

Yes, when a keen legal mind unpicks the detail of this repressive bilge they should see it is dangerous ludicrous balls. Even if the worst happens and this government are stupid enough to pass the DPA as it now appears (who would bet on their sanity?), if Jackboot is replaced by Edward Garnier in a couple of years, the wretched thing may not survive.


10th October   Comment:  Inciting Hatred ...
Salter is as guilty as sin

Martin SalterInteresting to see "Jackboot" Straw's proposal to introduce an amendment banning stirring up hatred on the basis of sexual orientation.

Wonder if this will apply to the vitriol poured out on sadomasochists by his unsavoury sidekick Martin Salter during the same debate?

Joined-up government?????


9th October  Opinion: All the Fun of the Fear...

The Guardian logoAs the Commons returns, the first item on the agenda is the government's plan to ban violent porn - it should be the first proposal kicked out.

From the Guardian see full article by Frank Fisher


6th October  Allied Against Dangerous Pictures...

Libertarian Alliance logoThe Libertarian Alliance joins the denunciation of war on “violent” pornography

Press release from the Libertarian Alliance

The Libertarian Alliance joins the denunciation of war on “violent” pornography

With the full support of the Libertarian Alliance, Backlash’s Deborah Hyde argued that anti-porn laws ignore the evidence about the use and impact of pornography, infantilise women and bring legal systems into disrepute.

As part of the debate at Trinity College Law Society in Dublin, Ms Hyde criticised the British Government’s new Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. This seeks to criminalise the possession of so-called and vaguely defined “extreme pornography”.

When a government says there is no evidence a new law is needed, when there is no evidence of harm and when the purpose of the law is to tell MPs it’s OK to impose their own personal morality on the population, we need to be worried,

She added that the main proponents of current proposals use incendiary language and unproven, anecdotal evidence to try to justify the law. This language also denigrates law-abiding citizens who are harming no-one, limits their freedom and stigmatises their sexuality - all despite there being no evidence of harm to others.

Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, says:

It is no business of the authorities in a free country to police the imagination. If these proposals become law, they will be another weapon in the arsenal of the police state built up in this country since 1979. We stand wholeheartedly with Deborah Hyde and everyone in Backlash to oppose them.

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

  • That what consenting adults do with each other on their own property is their own business
  • That if these consenting adults wish to publish any of this to other consenting adults, that also is their own business
  • That there should be no laws against the possession of any text or image, such laws being against the historic Constitution of England and being an excuse for an already corrupt police force to fabricate evidence
  • That the one legitimate function of the criminal justice system is to protect life and property.


5th October  Opinion: We must not lock up imagination...

The Guardian logo'Public morals' don't seem to have got any more liberal since Allen Ginsberg was tried for offending them 50 years ago.

From the Guardian see full article by Shirley Dent


29th September  Extreme Measures...

Ministry of Injustice logoMinistry of Injustice commission research 'evidence' from feminists

From the Ministry of Injustice see report

The Ministry of Injustice have posted a research paper presented as evidence of harm to adults relating to exposure to extreme pornographic material

It is written by the feminists of the porn is violence industry, Catherine Itzin, Professor  at Lincoln University; Professor Ann Taket, London South Bank University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; and Liz Kelly, London Metropolitan University.

This document reports on a rapid evidence assessment (REA) of the evidence of harm relating to exposure to extreme pornographic material (EPM). EPM was defined as 'actual scenes or realistic depictions of: explicit intercourse or oral sex with an animal, explicit sexual interference with a human corpse, explicit serious violence in a sexual context and explicit serious sexual violence'. The REA addressed three research questions:

1. What effects does viewing EPM have on those adults who access it?
2. In particular is there any evidence that it causes or contributes to sexual or violent offending?
3. Is there any evidence that those adults who participate in making EPM are harmed by their involvement?

Comment: Fatuous

From Teddy on SeeNoEvil

Even by the standards of the "Justice Ministry", this is a pretty fatuous effort. I'm really scared by the sheer authoritarianism of it all...

So they've taken 3 academics, whom they know support this legislation, and asked them to present their own account of the available research on the subject, framed around yet more perjorative and loaded premises. It is basically a tendentious rant. Might be worth asking the MoJ if they intend to allow the likes of Prof Petley and Drs Barker and Matthis to contribute to this sudden desire to produce evidence based legislation!

Comment: Timing

From Alan

Note how the government get their purported "evidence" just days before the intended second reading, giving no time for other academics to give it a bloody good kicking.

3rd October  Comment: Unbalanced...

Ministry of Injustice logoBoth the government and their commissioned extreme porn report are unbalanced

From Phantom on The Melon Farmers Forum

Well, as we all know the government have published a ‘scientific’ report on the harmful effects of what it likes to label extreme pornography.

I did a bit of reading.

Frankly, the report is a disgrace.

Supposedly it includes an analysis of 5 previous analyses (so-called meta-analyses) and covers a total of 156 previous studies.

3 of the 5 analyses were co-authored by a scientist called Allen. That’s 60%.

102 of the 156 studies covered were penned entirely or co-authored by Allen. That’s 66%.

Other studies were discounted for not fitting this analysis methodology or achieving non-significant results (which would be equivalent to a nil finding, i.e. no-effect.)

But now, here’s for balance. Of the 156 studies covered in this analysis only 5 were selected which actually concluded that pornography had no harmful effect. The other 151 selected were such which concluded that pornography was harmful. So a ‘balance’ of 97% to 3%.

The outcome of the report was therefore never in doubt.

The analyses was commissioned (i.e. paid for) by the Home Office.

One of the three authors of the report I believe is a feminist anti-porn campaigner.

It appears one made sure one had the right personnel write it, to assure the result one desired. Better yet, the authors then selected only material which backed the favoured assumption.

Choosing effectively two thirds of their material to be the product (or part product) of one person’s research and choosing to the scale of 97% studies which resulted in conclusions they favoured. It would be a joke, were it not so serious.

All the above one attempts to hide behind jargon and a dazzling flurry of quotations. But if you read through it, the flaws are glaringly obvious. However, what MP would do that? Who’d even have the time?

No doubt this ‘meta-analysis’ is now going to be banded about by the Home Office as conclusive scientific proof that ‘extreme pornography’ needs banning. [Surely a corruption of the available evidence]

9th October  Update: Two out of Three...

Ministry of Injustice logoGovernment commissioned 'evidence' from supporters of the proposed law

Based on a discussion on SeeNoEvil

Two out of the three contributors to the 'expert' research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice have turned out to be anything but impartial.


Catherine Itzin, a founder of the Campaign Against Pornography and Censorship, supports legislation of the sort that has been promoted in the United States by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, leading figures in the pornography debates.

The Dworkin-MacKinnon law begins by redefining pornography, Itzin says, as ‘a practice of sex discrimination which sexualizes the subordination of women and which eroticizes violence against women: as ‘a political practice of power and powerlessness’ which ‘eroticizes dominance and submission’.

In an effort to remove First Amendment protections from pornography as so defined, the law is called ‘civil rights legislation’, specifies that pornography does actual harm, and offers ‘victims of pornography’ the right to sue the producers of sexual materials.

Another author, Liz Kelly, is credited in the report as Roddick Chair of Violence Against Women and Director of Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University. The Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit contributed to the Home Office consultation in support of the proposed law.

Furthermore, the Lilith Project submitted a particularly aggressive response and wrote that the list of restricted pornographic material [with a penalty of 3 years in prison for simple possession] should be expanded from the proposed list to also include:

  • Any material which has scenes of sexual violence, not just those which are deemed to be showing ‘serious’ sexual violence
  • Any material which shows women’s bodies being abused in any way
  • Any material which is hostile to women by showing them in passive roles in sexual activity or being dominated
  • Any material which features naked women for the sole purpose of sexual gratification (and therefore not, for example, for educational or anatomical purposes

The Lilith Project responded on behalf of the Women’s National Commission who are actually the government’s independent advisory body on women’s issues. It has a Violence Against Women working group, which in turn has a Sexual Violence sub-group, whose chair turns out to be Professor Liz Kelly.


16th September   Worrisome ...

Bestiality most troublesome

A dreadful sounding case, but it worrisome to note that the judge thought that violent, presumably staged, adult porn and bestiality was most troublesome than the child porn.

From the BBC see full article

An paedophile with a huge collection of pornography including "violent" images of child abuse has been jailed and must serve at least three and half years.

At Cambridge Crown Court he admitted possession of more than 51,000 indecent photos and 137 videos of children. He was caught exposing himself to a police officer posing as a young girl.

His huge collection of adult pornography also included so-called "snuff movies" and videos of bestiality.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said: Most troubling is the extreme violence and the sexual images of violent death of women and of bestiality: If ever there was a case that demonstrates the corrosive effects of porn this is it.


12th August   Extreme Waste ...

Worthless impact assessment

Customs are not mentioned. Presumably Her Majesty's Car Thieves won't make do with a seizure when the offence is serious enough to warrant 3 years in prison. And no assessment of the costs of destroying families and careers

From Phantom on The Melon Farmers Forum
See also Regulatory Impact Assessment

Frankly, I despair. Just read the Regulatory Impact Assessment on this legislative garbage.

The report acknowledges the consultation result but immediately counters with the Longhurst petition. As though it had anything to do with this law! The petition predated this legislation. It was not in support of the proposal, as the proposal didn’t exist at the time. They even pretend that the threshold was increased from serious violence (GBH) to life threatening or likely to cause serious injury. As though the ‘appearance’ of a ‘likeliness’ of something was a high threshold!

This RIA identifies that there will be a risk of a need for increased enforcement activity for all UK enforcement agencies and the courts, but the circulation of extreme pornographic material should be inhibited.

Most possible impact is assessed as low by default as publication ‘is already illegal’. Of course the latter is hogwash, but hey, if your premise is sufficiently biased, your conclusions will fit the bill, right?

So what is the impact on sentencing likely to be?

6 community sentences! (at a total of £19,800 annually) and ten short term custodial sentences. That’s it? Seriously?

We are introducing human rights breaching legislation so we can issue 6 community and ten custodial sentences annually? Oh, don’t make me laugh!

Police Costs £10,890
CPS cost £65,192
Legal Aid Cost £127,935
Courts £200,220

If we are only expecting this tiny effect, why is the maximum penalty up to 3 years on jail? This is nonsense.

10 custodial sentences up to 6 months, total 5 prison places in their own words (so about £275000). So an estimated 14 police cautions (no court involvement), 6 community sentences and 10 six month sentences. Total cost they list £404,037 & prison cost ca. £275,000 = Total £699,037

Add to that their estimated annual 2.4 additional prison cell use for the increase of the OPA, which has only become necessary due to the introduction of this nonsense. (another £132,000)

Ok, is there anyone on this planet who thinks that is money well spent?

Given their own cost-effect ratio the cost could be astronomical. Once the initial precedents are set down I’d expect much more than a dozen convicted. Especially at first when many are caught out by ludicrous legislation which deems material simultaneously legal and illegal. Let’s face it this thing could snare hundreds. Well, you can then work out the costs for yourselves.

Quite frankly, the report’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Signed off by Gerry Sutcliffe MP, who states he believes the benefits justify the costs.

What benefits?


9th August   Extreme Nonsense ...

John Beyer

Forgive them their trespasses...
then lock them up for 3 years

Beyer repeats call to lock up all porn viewers

Thanks to Dan
Based on an article from Catholic Times

John Beyer has warned that Government plans to deal with the most violent and extreme pornography do not go far enough’

John Beyer of mediawatch-uk said legislation in the pipeline would not include a lot of R18 material.

Government plans to outlaw the possession of extreme pornography will be debated in Parliament in October when the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill gets a Second Reading.

We believe that most people would like to see a general clean up and the government acting to eradicate pornography altogether, said Beyer: Legislation ought to be extended to include material currently classified R18 by the British Board of Film Classification which many would regard as extreme.

Comment: Extreme Inanity

From Dan

A Banning "violent" porn doesn't go far enough. We need to ban anything and everything with the slightest whiff of sex in it and lock those who look at it up for three years. FOR THE GOOD OF SOCIETY! Yes yes we've heard it all before Mr Beyer!

We believe that most people would like to see a general clean up and the government acting to eradicate pornography altogether.

For "most people" read right-wing Daily Mail reading middle England who want the government to snoop into the private bedroom activities of the adult population of this country.

It's doubtful that most people would want to see law abiding people thrown in jail merely for watching consensual simulated sex because a few people find it "grubby".


7th August   MP Welcomes Dangerous Pictures Bill ...

David Hanson

The bill makes it an offence to possess images which threaten or appear to threaten a person’s life, acts which result in or appear to result in serious injury...
ie most Hollywood movies

David Hanson extends bill to Hollywood movies

From David Hanson's Website

Delyn MP David Hanson has welcomed new measures set out in the Government’s new Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill to make it an offence to possess extreme pornographic images.

The bill makes it an offence to possess images which threaten or appear to threaten a person’s life, acts which result in or appear to result in serious injury , bestiality or necrophilia. The bill also provides for the exclusion of classified films and increases the maximum penalty for publication of obscene material and for the possession of such material for gain.

David Hanson said:

I know that these new powers will be widely welcomed by my constituents as it gives more powers to take action against those in possession of extreme pornographic material.

I will be working hard to ensure these powers come into force at the nearest possible opportunity.


3rd August   Too Many Sex Offenders ...

David Lepper

Registered Rights Abuser
Fucked innocent people and
falsely imprisoned them

Let's invent more

From The Times

Known sex offenders are living unchecked in the community because there are too many of them to be monitored regularly, according to research commissioned by the Home Office.

The rapidly growing number of people registered as violent criminals or sex attackers is threatening to overwhelm the police, probation officers and social workers who have to keep them under supervision.

The new study identified three key areas of concern:

  • A “severe shortage” of approved accommodation for offenders
  • “Insufficient” treatment programmes and lengthy waiting times for them where they do exist
  • A lack of public funds to deal with the increasing caseload of offenders.

Figures published this year under the Freedom of Information Act disclosed that police forces had lost track of 322 registered sex offenders.

The mismatch between the number of offenders and the level of resources available to keep track of them was disclosed as ministers discussed plans to expand the monitoring of sex offenders still further. ITV News reported that it had obtained a leaked Home Office paper outlining plans to clamp down on websites that failed to protect children online.

The number of people on the sex offenders register in 2005-06 was 29,973, a 4% increase on the figure for the previous year. In the same year there were 14,317 violent offenders who were supposed to be subject to regular supervision, a rise of 13% on the 12 months before. Another 3,363 offenders were deemed to require supervision after sentencing or after release from prison.

The number of offenders required to register is certain to increase, with ministers widening the scope of the sex offenders register to include more sexually motivated crimes.

In December several offences were added to the watchlist - including outraging public decency, theft, burglary with intent, child abduction and harassment where it could be proved that the crime was sexually motivated.


30th July   Comment: Justice and Compassion ...

Church TimesChurch mark 40th anniversary of Sexual Offences Act 1967

Thanks to Alan

Can the bishops be persuaded to vote against the Dangerous Pictures Act in the Housel of Lords?

From Church Times

There is value in marking the 40th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which was brought about with the votes of a number of bishops in the Lords, including the Archbishop of Canterbury of the day, and with the support of many — though, of course, not all — churchpeople.

The distinction made by the Wolfenden committee in 1957 between matters involving immorality and those implying criminality has proved so useful that there are few people today, whatever their views on sex, who would not regard the abolition of the old punitive legislation as other than a victory for justice, compassion, and common sense.

The principle of restricting the matters treated as criminal is still relevant in a world of ASBOs, smoking bans, and the EU. Wolfenden, in great demand as a committee man, was a churchman, involved in the early days of the Board for Social Responsibility. His example of the thoughtful and open-minded application of Christian precepts in national affairs is one to follow.


14th July   Comment: Bansturbating ...

Martin Salter

Martin Salter

What do you call it when people ban everything

From The Times by Tim Worstall

One candidate is the verb “to bansturbate” (origin, Harry Haddock at The word – a fusion of “ban” and the term for self-abuse – refers to both the public abuse of the rights of the citizenry as things that some people simply disapprove of are made illegal, and the near-sexual frisson of pleasure gained by those who pass such laws.

Much of the urge to ban is driven, just like Puritanism, by the fear that some people, somewhere, may be enjoying themselves; the rest by the terror of politicians and bureaucrats who fear that if they don’t do something, anything, we might begin to wonder why we pay them.

And once we’ve started down the path of pleasurable “bansturbating” kinkiness, then ever greater doses must be consumed to maintain the effect.


13th July

 Comment: Tortured Logic...


Realistic depiction of government torture

From The Guardian see full article

European Court of Human RightsBritain launched an attempt at the European court of human rights yesterday to overturn an 11-year-old judgment by the court which bans the deportation of suspected terrorists to countries where they face a risk of torture or degrading treatment.

The government has been trying for two years to find a way of challenging the Strasbourg court's judgment in the 1996 Chahal case, which has frustrated its attempts to expel suspects to such countries as Tunisia and Algeria.

Comment from Alan

The government that wants to throw people in jail for having videos or images of actors engaged in staged torture scenes also wants to send other people off to be tortured for real.

How low can they sink?


12th July   This is not law, it is sanctimonious humbuggery. ...

Bloggers on Dangerous Pictures

From Postman Patel see full article

The UK Ministry of Justice introduced this week a new bill which incorporates a change in the Criminal Law which contributors to , and users of the World Wide Web - and anyone else concerned with the Freedom of Speech, should very seriously consider. It also looks as though it could (if anyone bothers) - re-create the arguments that raged after Lord Woolfenden's report removed legal sanctions on male homosexuality and privately organised prostitution.

This is not law, it is sanctimonious humbuggery.


11th July   Unbalanced Minds ...

Martin Salter

Martin Salter looking distinctly...triggered:
"No-one is stopping people doing
weird stuff to each other,
 but they would be strongly advised
 not to put it on the internet.
At the end of the day it is all
too easy for this stuff to trigger
an unbalanced mind".

Second reading of Dangerous Pictures Act due in autumn

Based on an article f rom the BBC see full article
Thanks also to Dark Angel's Realm of Horror

Reading West MP Martin Salter, who has been heavily involved with the campaign, asked the Home Secretary on Monday when the Dangerous Pictures bill was to receive a second reading.

Jacqui Smith Replied that it was due in the autumn, she said continued: The campaigning of Liz Longhurst... has brought the issue to the fore and applied the necessary pressure to bring about those legislative changes, which will be important in offering protection in this area.


11th July   Nutters in Expert's Clothing ...

A selection fo newspapers'Experts' want more material defined as dangerous pictures

I can accept that people would like to see restrictions on the depiction of rape. But to call for 3 years imprisonment for the possession of staged images of the type that exist in the movie, Emmanuelle, is surely worthy of censure and ridicule. From Northern Echo see full article
The so called Durham University 'experts'  recently arranged a debate previously reported on Melon Farmers. See Politics of Porn Debated

Professor McGlynn said: The conviction of Graham Coutts does not show that there is a casual link between looking at extreme pornography and sexual violence.

Nevertheless, the prevalence of extreme pornography sustains a culture in which rape and sexual violence are normalised and legitimated; in which a woman's 'no' is not taken seriously, as evidenced by the low conviction rate for rape.

It is not clear that the horrific rape websites, which are widely and freely available on the internet, are covered by the measures contained in the new Bill.

We consider that these websites should clearly be covered.

Professor McGlynn and Dr Rackley have suggested that the Bill be amended to include pornographic rape websites.

Dr Rackley said: We are concerned with violence against women, rather than a moral agenda to limit expressive sexual material.


10th July   Dangerous Pictures Act ...


Police raiding home

Open Up!
We know you have horror fans inside

Withdraw section 6 of the Criminal Justice Bill

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Withdraw section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, 2007.

If this Section becomes Law, it will create a 'thought crime' as described by George Orwell in the book '1984'. If enacted, it would remain lawful to own and to display publicly extreme, violent images intended to sell (advertising), to excite (video games), to entertain (gore/ horror films), to inform (TV news) and to be worshipped (crucifix). Ownership of only one category of extreme imagery would become a criminal offence meriting three years in prison; material intended to arouse sexually. That is, a state of mind of the user/ owner would become illegal. Actions and effects on others are valid reasons for the State to punish individuals. Thoughts and feelings are not.

Update: Result

Closed with 1,138 signatures


10th July   In the Press ...

A selection fo newspapersGet your tanks off our porn!

From the Guardian: Get your tanks off our porn! The government's legislation to ban violent pornography is unjust, irrational, and inconsistent. By Frank Fisher

It appears that the government of Gordon Brown has decided to embrace inclusivity to the extent of including the utterly insane. There's really no other way to describe the legislation now before the Commons that aims to ban "extreme pornography" and jail anyone caught in possession of it...

375 comments and most of them pro-freedom, even Guardian readers oppose this government's censorship!


2nd July   Email Monitoring ...
Labour's Listening
Labour rose

Sex offenders now, 'potential' sex offenders next

So being caught with a staged violent porn picture suddenly gets even more serious.

From The Times

Sex offenders face having their computers monitored by police, according to Vernon Coaker, the junior Home Office minister Registered sex offenders will be obliged to provide their email addresses and software may be developed to monitor their online activities.


29th June   Comment: Women Say No ...

Backlash logoTo Government ban on "violent" pornography

Press Release from Backlash

Women across Britain reject today's presentation in the House of Commons of the Criminal Justice Bill 2006-7, which will make possession of certain kinds of consensually-produced porn punishable with three years in prison.

The government claims that a ban on the possession of certain kinds of porn will "protect" women, as if they were children or passive victims. Yet 1 in 3 visitors to adult websites are female (Internet Filter Review). And when it comes to "violent" pornography, women constitute a much higher proportion of users, including those active in opposing the proposal - 63% in the case of our recent "Blogging for backlash" campaign.

The views of ordinary women - from housewives to sex workers to entrepreneurs - who believe that the proposed ban on "violent" pornography will have no effect on real crime, and serve only to damage private citizens engaged in consensual adult activities, have been canvassed by backlash.

Sue, a 43-year-old mother of three from Scotland says: I am a consumer of so-called "violent porn". I have modelled for so-called "violent porn" and for mainstream porn. Nothing was done that I had not consented to fully. As a model, I did not once feel degraded or abused. I do however, as an adult woman, feel degraded by those who claim to know what's best for me!

Evie, 39, NHS Manager from Hertfordshire: I am lucky enough to live at a time when I can decide my own fate, my own sexuality, and enjoy eroticism on a par with men. However, the government now seeks to brand me a feeble-minded victim and take that right away. I find the implication offensive in the extreme.

Statement from the International Union of Sex Workers: The proposed legislation would scapegoat consenting adults while doing little to lessen the real threats of violence in society. It has been prepared without consultation with those actually involved. We stand with backlash against this legislation.

Rosalee, 42, artist from London: [This legislation] serves only to disempower me and deny me the right to explore my own sexuality and to make my own choices about how I choose to express it. And women who feel disempowered and made to feel ashamed of their sexualities become more vulnerable to real exploitation and abuse.

Molly, 47: I have always voted Labour because I believe in social justice, but if this bill is passed this government will definitely NEVER see my vote again.

An umbrella organisation, backlash represents groups who are opposed to the government's intention to create a new offence of the ownership of "violent" pornography.


26th June   Extreme Injustice Bill ...

House of Commons logoCriminal Justice Bill to be introduced today

Perhaps rather appropriated that the Times headlined the news as: New law will see 3,000 more being sent to jail

Thanks to Peter

It seems that the Criminal Justice Bill (which includes the "violent pornography" clause) will receive its First Reading in the Commons today (Tuesday June 26th).

Not surprisingly, the first signals came from the newspapers (Sunday Times and Daily Mail). Don't bother looking for anything about this on Parliament site, as it appears to have been kept a secret from just about everyone (including Jack Straw, who didn't mention it in his weekly announcements a few days ago).

The First Reading is a formal announcement of the publication of a new Bill. There is no debate at that time. Normally, there's a gap of two weekends before the Second Reading, which is the when MPs have a chance to debate the Bill.

And thanks to Phantom who asked about who was responsible for this injustice bill:

Departmental responsibility for this policy passed to the Ministry of Justice with the machinery of Government changes in May. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State who holds policy responsibility for changes to the Criminal Law is Gerry Sutcliffe.

27th June   Update: Extremely Rushed Injustice Bill ...

House of Commons logoCriminal Justice Bill to be debated today

From SeeNoEvil

The Criminal Justice Bill containing the criminalisation of possession of 'extreme' pornography was published yesterday and will be debated today in 2nd reading even though nobody has had chance to digest the details yet.

The main bill can be read here:

The main page describing the offence of Possession of extreme pornographic images is:

Phantom has kindly summarised the parts of the bill relevant to extreme porn:

Update: Tomorrow's Another Day

Thanks to Alan who pointed out that use of the word 'tomorrow' in parliamentary speak means not tomorrow and the bill isn't actually getting its 2nd reading today.

The Business Statement of the Leader of the House of Commons on the morning of Thursday 28 June did not announce a date for the Second Reading (i.e. full debate ) for the week commencing 2nd July, or in the provisional business for the week commencing 9th July.

28th June   Update: When is a Drawing Really a Photograph? ...

House of Commons logoTake a trip to jail if you cannot tell

Thanks to Paul

The I just noticed something being slipped through on the tail of the the "dangerous pictures" legislation. It's in Clause 68 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. Section 3 of this clause:

"...amends section 7 of the 1978 Act to extend the definition of "photograph" to include derivatives of photographs, such as tracings or other forms of data. As a result, references to a photograph in the 1978 Act will include tracings or other images, whether made by electronic or other means, that are not in themselves photographs or pseudo-photographs (as defined in the 1978 Act) but which are derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph, or a combination of either or both. This amendment will mean that an offence under section 1 (indecent photographs of children) of the 1978 Act, will cover derivatives of indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, alongside indecent photographs and pseudo-photographs themselves. These derivatives include line-traced and computer traced images, for example, pencil traced images using tracing paper or computer traced images of photographs taken on a mobile phone."

The good news is that surely this will weaken the case for further legislation on the subject, because it seeks to protect actual children from abuse. However, the very bad news is that someone could possess a drawing of a child NOT REALISING that it was traced from an "indecent image". I can see no defence being mentioned about not knowing it was traced from an indecent image, so doesn't this conflict with Human Rights legislation?

3rd July   Comment: Sexy Horror Films Could Lead to Jail ...

House of Commons logoA nasty wrinkle in the drafting

From Richard

I would like to draw your attention to a nasty trap in the drafting.

Suppose there is a series of images which, taken as a whole, appears to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal (clause 64(3)). Maybe the sexual images are not extreme, just ordinary top-shelf porn.

Within this series, and integral to the story told by the images, is a non-sexual image which is an image of an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life (clause 64(6)(a)). Let us assume that that image is only consensual acting. No-one's life was actually threatened in the making of it.

Clause 64(4) could mean that the non-sexual image was pornographic, because of the sexual nature of the series.

If so, then a possessor of that image, with or without the rest of the series, would be guilty of the offence of possession set out in clause 64(1). This would be so even though no one image in the series was both pornographic and extreme.

I may be mistaken about how to read the law. If the law as drafted were in force and someone in this situation landed up in court, I am sure that the defence would argue that clause 64(4)(a) means that the extreme image must itself be pornographic. The defence would also argue that the fact that clause 64(5) only gives an example of someone getting let off by the rule that you have to look at the series, and not an example of someone getting trapped by the rule that you have to look at the series, backs up this claim about the effect of clause 64(4)(a).

From the Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill

Clause 64: Possession of extreme pornographic images

381. This clause creates a new offence of possession of extreme pornographic images. Subsection (1) provides that it is an offence to be in possession of an extreme pornographic image.

382. Subsections (2) to (8) set out the definition of "extreme pornographic image". What is meant by 'pornographic' is explained in subsection (3). In order to be considered pornographic, an image needs to have been produced solely or mainly for the purpose of sexual arousal. Whether this threshold has been met will be an issue for a jury to determine. Subsection (4) makes it clear that where an individual image forms part of a larger series of images, the question of whether it is pornographic must be determined by reference both to the image itself and also the context in which it appears in the larger series of images.

383. Subsection (5) expands on subsection (4). It provides that where a narrative, such as a mainstream or documentary film, contains images which might be considered 'pornographic' if looked at in isolation, outside the context of the story-line or purpose of the narrative, those images may be found not to be pornographic by virtue of the context in which they appear, if it appears that the series of images itself was not produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

384. Subsection (6) lists the types of image which are defined as an "extreme image" for the purposes of the offence. These are images of:

  • acts which threaten or appear to threaten a person's life; this could include depictions of hanging, suffocation, or sexual assault involving a threat with a weapon
  • acts which result in, or appear to result (or be likely to result) in, serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals; this could include the insertion of sharp objects or the mutilation of breasts or genitals
  • acts which involve or appear to involve sexual interference with a human corpse
  • acts which show a person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal.

In all cases the act and the participants depicted in the image must appear to be real to the viewer.

385. Subsection (7) sets out the definition of an image. It states that for the purposes of this offence, 'an image' means either still images, such as photographs, or moving images, such as those in a film. The term 'image' also incorporates any type of data, including that stored electronically (as on a computer disk), which is capable of conversion into an image. This covers material available on computers, mobile phones or any other electronic device.

386. Subsection (8) states that references to parts of the body also include body parts that may have been surgically constructed or enhanced.

387. Subsection (9) requires the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for proceedings to be instigated.

7th July   Update: Extreme Views...

House of Commons logoExtreme Pornography in the Press

Articles worth a read on the subject of the Dangerous Pictures legislation

Extreme ignorance New curbs are authoritarian and moralising by Julian Petley

To the censors, we’re all Aboriginals Now More by Julian Petley

7th July

Get your tanks off our porn! The government's legislation to ban violent pornography is unjust, irrational, and inconsistent. By Frank Fisher

Government porn bill faces Backlash by Iain Thomson


13th June   Blame Alert ...

Blame manga booksTextual rape fiction takes the rap

Now the spotlight will be on fiction, not just 'dangerous' pictures. Perhaps also being 'a loner' should be considered anti-social and subject to ASBOs. I think it is safe to say that anyone with just 20 hardcore images on a computer has little or no interest in pornography. Hardly something to pin blame on anyway.

From The Telegraph see full article

A teenage victim of a sex attack waived her right to anonymity yesterday to describe how her attacker re-enacted an internet story.

Peter Anscombe recreated an internet tale, entitled Steve's next victim , when he assaulted 17-year-old Carley Furness.

Furness was also stabbed in the stomach and neck when she took a short cut to work in Orpington, south-east London. Her clothes were ripped off and she was assaulted before a woman passer-by intervened and chased the attacker. She clung on to life and had emergency surgery in Queen Mary's hospital in Sidcup, where her attacker worked as a care assistant.

Peter Anscombe (a loner who lived with his parents) has been found guilty of sexual assault and grievous bodily harm on Carly Furness

As police were investigating the attack, they found 50 stories about rape stored on Anscombe's three computers and memory hardware as well as 20 images from a hard-core pornography website.

Update: Life

29th July

Peter Anscombe was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered he serve a minimum of seven years in prison before he is considered for release.


13th June   Coutts on Re-Trial ...

Old BaileyRe-trial starts at the Old Bailey

From the BBC see full article

The re-trial of Graham Coutts has started at the Old Bailey.

Coutts denies the murder in March 2003 of Jane Longhurst, claiming that the special needs teacher's death was an accident.

Jurors have been told that the case is a retrial.

The original case prompted the campaign that led to the so-called Dangerous Pictures Act.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

5th July   Update: Coutts Convicted ...

Old BaileyAnd the extreme porn debate recommences

From the BBC see full article

Graham Coutts has been convicted for the second time of murdering Jane Longhurst.

His second trial at the Old Bailey heard he was a regular visitor to websites depicting extreme material.

His barrister, Christopher Sallon QC, asked him at one point: The suggestion is you were acting out a fantasy from a pornographic image that you accessed with the internet? Were you charged up and sexually aroused by Jane Longhurst, dead, with a ligature on?

Coutts denied it. But then he had lied about so much else, including his claim she had agreed to sex on the day she disappeared and acquiesced when he suggested a sex game involving her being partially strangled with a pair of tights.

After the original trial Miss Longhurst's mother, Liz, organised a petition of 50,000 people and succeeded in persuading the home secretary to introduce legislation banning the downloading and possession of violent or "extreme" pornography.

She said: I feel pressure should be brought to bear on internet service providers (ISPs) to close down or filter out these pornographic sites, so that people like Jane's killer may no longer feed their sick imaginations and do harm to others.

The ban was included in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, details of which were announced by the government last week.

The Bill has yet to be debated by Parliament but there is growing opposition to the clause among a small but vociferous community who say they will be criminalised.

The so-called Bondage, Domination, Sado-Masochism (BDSM) community has organised a petition against the new legislation, which 1,800 people have signed.

Deborah Hyde, of the pressure group Backlash, argues that perverted predators like Coutts will always exist and no amount of "kneejerk" legislation would prevent them from killing.

She said the vast majority of BDSM people believed in consensual activities and would not wish to inflict actual harm on their partners. They did not want to view snuff movies or actual cruelty but would be criminalised for watching pornography which was acted out by actors.

Ms Hyde said the government had already widened the description of "extreme" pornography to include some gay porn.

She said: The government is trying to put us in the same category as rapists, murderers and paedophiles.

I want to make the world a safer place but this law will not help. It is not good law and it is being rushed through. There is a lot of research which says that giving access to this sort of material actually reduces crimes against women.

Dr Meg Barker, a senior lecturer in psychology at London South Bank University, said: The current fears around the possible impact of 'violent pornography' on the internet seem very similar to previous 'moral panics' there have been from penny dreadfuls in Victorian times, to horror comics in the 1950s, to video nasties in the 1980s.

Images of consensual, or fictitious, acts between adults should not be criminalised, she said, adding that there was evidence that "kinky" and S&M activities were on the increase among "normal" heterosexual couples.

But Labour MP Martin Salter, who has worked closely with Mrs Longhurst in pushing the legislation, rejected the BDSM community's claims their civil liberties were being undermined.

He said: No-one is stopping people doing weird stuff to each other but they would be strongly advised not to put it on the internet. At the end of the day it is all too easy for this stuff to trigger an unbalanced mind.


9th June   Busting Our Asses ...

BBC 3 logoMartin Salter on curtailing basic freedoms

Thanks to DarkAngel on The Melon Farmers Forum
See BBC details about the programme: Bust My Ass

The BBC3 programme Bust My Ass featured Sam Delaney whoa was taking a look at Britain and how our basic freedoms of expression and protest are being eroded.

Quite interesting, they met up with our friend Martin Salter MP (the guy behind the Dangerous Pictures Act, (DPA)) as he's the one MP who has supported every single motion regarding monitoring, surveillance and curtailing basic freedoms. Pity he wasn't grilled about the DPA.


25th May   Violent Disagreements ...

Backlash logoExperts disagree with the Government

From Backlash

Academics Dr Meg Barker and Dr Miodrag Popovic have spoken out against illiberal government policies. NHS clinician Dr Popovic has published an article in the Journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, severely critiquing the 'violent pornography' proposal, while Dr Barker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at London South Bank University, told Backlash that the planned legislation will promote sexual ignorance and "may actually increase the risk of physical damage" among the 30% of people admitting to a kinky component in their sex lives and fantasies.


17th May   Summer of Extremes ...

House of Commons logoCriminal Justice Bill to be introduced this summer

From Media Newswire see full article

Home Secretary John Reid has been speaking to the Police Federation stating that a Criminal Justice Bill will be introduced this summer.

It was previously stated that the prohibition on Extreme pornography would be introduced in this bill. This is not mentioned in the speech probably because it is considered small fry and maybe not considered so relevant to the audience

In a speech to the Police Federation John Reid said:

And that's why this summer we'll be introducing a new Criminal Justice Bill to:

  • To extend your powers to close all premises generating yobbish behaviour - not just crack dens.
  • And to give you more powers to restrict the behaviour of dangerous offenders like where they can live or who they can associate with.

Comment: A new Minister of Dangerous Pictures

From Phantom on The Melon Farmers Forum

The reason John Reid will not have mentioned the subject of the Dangerous Pictures Act is because it now falls into the remit of Lord Falconer`s Department for Constitutional Affairs/Ministry of Justice

The DPA is now the affair of the Ministry of Justice and therefore not something Reid will be waxing lyrical about anymore...

As for the ministerial staff of the Ministry of Justice, it could be any one of these: After Goggins and Coaker the poisoned chalice has now passed on to its third minister...


15th May   Extreme Propagandaography ...

Radio 4 logoExtreme pornography debated on the Today Programme

From The Melon Farmers Forum
Listen to the Today Programme (RealPlayer required, debate 6:20s in)

Teddy gave a few indicators of the biased content in his email to the Today team...

Letter writerI was disappointed by the unbalanced nature of this morning's report into the government's "extreme porn" legislation.

As a liberal and a libertarian, I have concerns about many recent pieces of legislation, of which this has to be the most foolish and unjustified. I would like to see, hear and read the BBC giving more coverage of some of the strong arguments against such legislation and the groups opposing it, rather than just taking the opinions of the Home Office and police as gospel.

Your article failed to mention that 2/3rds of the responses to the recent consultation opposed these new laws and that no other "western" democracy criminalises possession of any kind of adult pornography in this way.

I would also like to know what supporting evidence the reporter had to state "these are not victimless crimes"? I would challenge the BBC to produce any such material which did not originate from fictional and/or consensual situations. There are many who enjoy consensual S/M, for example, and to say that the actors involved in this material are "victims" just because some find it distasteful is ignorant and offensive.

The earlier BBC reporting of this legislation showed much better balance and scrutiny (Denise Mahoney`s 10 o`clock news article on 30/08/06 for example); I hope you will reconsider more recent approaches, where the Beeb has become little more than a pro-legislative mouthpiece.

23rd May   BBC Propagandaography ...

Radio 4 logoBBC reply to points raised about propaganda on the Today programme

From SeeNoEvil forum

Keithunder wrote to the BBC:

Letter writerI am complaining about the biased report on 'extreme pornography' at about 7:30 this morning. There was no attempt to balance this advert for the governments new proposals which could lock up thousands of people for a victimless crime.

It used the police as canvassers for the government proposals and your lazy journalist lapped it all up uncritically. For example there is no mention that the great majority of the responses to the governments consultation were against the proposed new laws.

Richard Carey of BBC Information replied:

[I'm sorry] that you feel the item on violent pornography was poorly researched and did not provide an opposing view to the proposed government legislation outlawing such images.

If I can explain, it is not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. The BBC does not seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view. It seeks rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience. Among other evidence, audience research indicates widespread confidence in the impartiality of the BBC's reporting.

It is clear that in this instance that you feel the report did not take into full consideration the complexities surrounding the issues of violent pornography and to that end I can assure you Mr Fitzgerald that your obvious strong feelings have been fully registered and have been made available to the 'Today' production team and senior BBC management.


2nd May   Blaming YouTube . ..

David LepperDavid Lepper sets his sights on censoring YouTube

From the The Argus by Brighton MP, David Lepper

Following a story in The Argus about disturbing images celebrating gang violence in Churchill Square and other parts of the city appearing on the internet, I am asking both the Home Office and the communications regulator Ofcom to look at whether we need to do more to control what appears on websites like YouTube.

Every so often, some event makes many ask what we can do to minimise the internet's potential for harm. The violent death of Brighton teacher Jane Longhurst was one. It raised concerns about access to and the effects on behaviour of violent internet pornography.

I congratulate The Argus on the vital role it played in backing the campaign by Jane's mother Liz to get Government action to curb this extreme pornography. The campaign was later backed by Amnesty International and has led to legislation soon to come before Parliament about possession of such images.

As one of the MPs with Mrs Longhurst at many of her meetings with ministers and civil servants, I discovered just how difficult it is to control what is on the internet, especially when - unlike with the issue of child pornography - there is no international consensus about what is or is not acceptable. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to track down where material originates.

It is a different kind of violence - highlighted last month by The Argus - which has once again raised this issue. In this case there is no real doubt about the origin. The pictures, apparently taken from CCTV cameras and from mobile phones, glorified real-life violence. They showed a gang fight and violent attack in Brighton's Churchill Square, harassment and violence at Moulsecoomb railway station and an incident on a bus. The images had been edited with a music track and posted on YouTube.

Everyone who has seen this footage and the stills from it has been shocked, not only by the mindless and inexcusable thuggery but that it has been made publicly available in a way which seems to celebrate extreme aggression.

There is no doubt the intention of those who did this was to boast about their involvement and Sussex Police are investigating how the CCTV footage got on to the internet.

Of course, the very great virtue of YouTube is that it provides a space where anyone can post their films and thoughts and ideas. But YouTube has a code of practice which should exclude material like the Brighton pictures. The fact it did not exclude them until a fuss was made raises questions about how the code of practice is monitored.

That is why I am asking the Home Office and the communications watchdog Ofcom to consider whether stricter regulation is needed, not just for YouTube but also for other sites like it.

I don't know the answers to those questions. It could be that selfregulation by the industry is enough and that YouTube was just sloppy in letting these images through. I welcome the fact that the courts have dealt with at least some of those involved in the violent incidents.

The question I believe we now need to consider is if the courts also need the power - if they don't already have it - to deal with those who posted or sanctioned the posting of the material on YouTube.

If they don't have that power already, then maybe the law needs changing.


26th April  10 Reasons for Concern...


Police raiding homeResponse to extreme porn petition

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abandon plans to make it a criminal offence to possess 'violent pornography'

This proposed law would create a Thought Crime making it illegal to possess "sexual images" that, in the subjective opinion of members of the Home Office, show activities "liable to cause serious injury or death" even if the participants were consenting adult actors.


The petition was signed by 1800 people with the following response from 10 Downing Street

Thank you for the e-petition, dated 17 November 2006, about the Government's proposals to make it illegal to possess a limited range of extreme pornographic material.

The proposals are aimed at tackling the circulation of extreme pornography which would be likely to contravene the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA) if it were published within the UK. The Government takes the view that criminalising the possession of extreme pornographic images, the publication and distribution of which is already illegal in this country under the OPA, is a necessary step.

With the development of modern technology the current law is no longer able to control such material and this has created a gap which the proposals are intended to fill. If such material is already being published and distributed such action is illegal under the law at present. The aim is not to bring additional material within the scope of the law but to criminalise its possession as well as publication and distribution.

The Government's response to the consultation, published last August, states that the proposed new offence would have to meet two thresholds. First it would apply only to pornographic material, by which we mean material that has been solely or primarily produced for the purpose of sexual arousal. This would be an objective test for the jury in any prosecution.

The second threshold would also be an objective test for the jury in respect of actual scenes or depictions which appear to be real acts. We would aim to cover activity which can be clearly seen, leaves little to the imagination, and is not hidden or disguised. By actual scenes or depictions which appear to be real acts, we intend to catch material which is genuinely violent or conveys a realistic impression of fear, violence and harm.

Whilst I understand that you have many reservations about the Government's proposals, they are not aimed at any particular part of society. The consultation was not concerned with the legal consensual material which already circulates and which does not already breach the OPA. The fact that some extreme pornographic material may in fact be consensual while appearing to be otherwise, does not mean that it falls outside the criminal law.

This seems to give worrying clues about the material that will be criminalised. The original GBH/serious injury has bee watered down to a mere impression of fear

ie "pornographic material ...that has been solely or primarily produced for the purpose of sexual arousal". AND "actual scenes or depictions which appear to be real acts... material which is genuinely violent or conveys a realistic impression of fear, violence and harm".

28th April   Letter: A Mere Impression of Freedom ...


Police raiding home Response to extreme porn petition response

Letter from Shaun to the Home Office

From the above article: 10 Reasons for Concern

This seems to give worrying clues about the material that will be criminalised. The original GBH/serious injury has bee watered down to a mere impression of fear

ie "pornographic material ...that has been solely or primarily produced for the purpose of sexual arousal". AND "actual scenes or depictions which appear to be real acts... material which is genuinely violent or conveys a realistic impression of fear, violence and harm".

So the "extreme" material to be CENSORED is less extreme now?

Why don't you people in government understand that CENSORSHIP is the tool of the repressor, and used widely by **nasty** governments around the world, and is not something to be employed willy nilly at the whim of some sanctimonious government minister trying to make a name for him/herself ?

Censorship may be justified (child abuse for example) but should be a tool of absolute last resort.

Allowing free people to see nasty things, especially those which which cannot be *properly* shown to harm, is one of the attributes of a FREE SOCIETY.

You know as well as I do, that most INDIVIDUALS do not want this, only some organisations and religious groups. So wrong when you admitted you cannot prove the harm, in your consultation document.

It's all completely and utterly disgraceful in my opinion.

In the meantime issues of real importance are not getting dealt with, because the Home Office, is too busy worrying about issues like this.... What a waste of tax payer's hard earned money.

We're just waiting for the repressive British state to finish educating our children, then we are going to live in Spain or somewhere else in Europe I think.

I have had enough of this stupid sanctimonious repressive dump of a country. Many people of my skill and intelligence feel exactly the same.

I wouldn't bother with consultations anymore if I were you. They are just a complete waste of taxpayers money and government time. It seems to me, that you (the government) will do what you want anyway, regardless of the opinion of people to take the trouble to respond to them.

I know I never shall bother with them again.

It is a complete and utter waste of time.


17th April   Happy but Dangerous Easter ...

Spanked bottom on Czech Happy Easter cardA dangerous world of pictures

Thanks to Alan
Image from Adele Haze's "Spanking Model Speaks"

Let's hope that one's Czech friends don't send us an Easter card along the lines  of the one shown here. The welts are said to be fake but this is hardly likely to placate the British police looking to lock you up for 3 three years.

I wonder if the Government will look to prosecute for viewing dangerous pictures abroad. There is an art gallery in Vienna where one of the works on display was disturbingly necrophilic and shows a man performing cunnilingus on a virtually skeletal female corpse (not sure what the artist was trying to say).

Also dangerous is that Vienna International Airport has a sex shop - airside, bizarrely juxtaposed next to the lift to the chapel! - belonging to the Beate Uhse chain. Imagine some respectable Austrian buying his BDSM film and then getting thrown in the slammer at Heathrow.


14th April   Cine Excess ...

cine excess posterExtreme porn to be discussed at cult film conference

May 3rd -5th
Apollo Westend

Daily £80, All 3 days £150

The Saturday afternoon session, Cult and Cut, looks particularly interesting:

  • Chair: Kim Newman
  • Professor Martin Barker (University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
    Fancying a bit of the old in-out : Tackling the difficult question of enjoying and valuing screened sexual violence.
  • Professor Julian Petley (Brunel University)
    Such material has no place in our society : New Labour and ‘extreme pornography’.
  • Shaun Kimber (University of Winchester)
    Revisiting British Genre Fandom & the Regulation, Censorship and Classification of Film Violence in Contemporary Britain

Martin Baker and Julian Petley both submitted excellent responses to the government consultation on extreme pornography:

  • Response Challenging Lack of Research by Martin Baker & Ernest Mathijs
  • Response from Julian Petley of Brunel University


12th April   Seeking Women's Views ...

Backlash logoContributions against government's violent porn proposals

From Informed Consent
See also Backlash

The I'm writing from Backlash, the umbrella organisation set up to oppose the UK government's proposals to ban "violent pornography". We are setting up a section on our website devoted to expressing women's opposition to the ban, and thought you might want to contribute. Please forward it to any women you think might be interested.

One of the most offensive aspects of the government's policy of censorship is the assumption that all pornography, and by logical extension consensual sexual activity, is always something inflicted by men on women, who suffer as a result. In effect, the government is suggesting that a sizeable proportion of adult women require protection from their own sexuality.

We believe that this misrepresents the experience of millions of women. In their consultation, the government ignored the responses of individuals (who were mostly against their proposals) in favour of the responses of organisations such as county police forces (who mostly supported their proposals). We hope to provide a platform for individual dissenting voices.

What we are looking for are short pieces from women (100 to 600 words) answering the following questions -

  1. How would you describe your sexuality?
  2. What role has "violent pornography" played in your life?
  3. What do you think of the UK government's proposal to ban "violent pornography"? Can you suggest any better means of improving attitudes towards women?

We hope to get a diverse range of voices, so responses can be as academic and analytical or as angry and personal as you like. Submissions will be edited as little as possible to preserve writers' points of view, though we reserve the right not to use unsuitable material. It would be helpful if you felt able to let us know your name (a pseudonym is fine), age, occupation and town/general area of residence, which we hope to print with the article as part of our drive to show that we are representing the views of a wide variety of women. However, this is not essential.

We are also happy to receive articles which are longer and more freeform than the template above; but we would like to get responses from a lot of women, to show that our campaign does enjoy wide support. So if you have limited time, or essay composition isn't your thing, hopefully the above questions should be a quick and easy way to register your opinions. We are also happy to receive responses from women who don't personally consider themselves kinky, but are opposed to the ban anyway. The same goes for women who live outside the UK.

It is our hope that some of the material will be picked up by the national media, either in the form of articles we place ourselves, or by journalists who visit the site, so please bear in mind that your words might end up being quoted. (We hope!)

Please send any contributions to penny @ (remove the spaces to make the address work). Please also forward this email to any other women who you think might be interested.

Thanks for your help,

The Backlash team


7th April   Netherlands Dogged by Censorship ...

AIDS aware poster showing sex with scorpianAnimal porn distribution to be banned

In the UK it will be illegal to possess

While in France it is Government sponsored! The Poster is from a French anti AIDS campaign

Based on an article from NIS News

The Netherlands is the biggest distributor of animal pornography worldwide. Of an inventory of 1,500 films, over 80% came from Dutch distributors, according to Algemeen Dagblad.

Dutch companies buy up cheap films abroad en masse and distribute them via the Internet, according to an anonymous former staff member of a distributor. We control the world market. The domain names of hundreds of animal pornography sites are also registered in the Netherlands.

Films in which men and women have sex with animals are also made in the Netherlands. A company in Nieuwegein, near Utrecht, produces about 20 films a month in a shed, according to the newspaper. The recordings can be watched live via "hundreds of linked websites" on the Internet for 30 euros a month.

Last week, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin announced that the making and distribution of animal pornography is to become a punishable offence. In the Netherlands, sex with animals is currently still legal, as long as the animal is not shown to suffer from it.


28 th March   Extreme Moralography ...

Radio 4 logoExtreme pornography debated on Woman's Hour

Thanks to Sergio on The Melon Farmers Forum
Listen to the Woman's Hour debate

Woman's Hour on Radio 4 on 27th March featured a debate about extreme pornography.

A Professor in Law, Clare McGlynn, and Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre spouted the usual government line.

They both agreed that there is no evidence (no definitive causal link), so one can only conclude that this is a moral crusade by the government.


10th March   Short of the Short List ...
John Beyer

Beyer Recommends..

Beyer disappointed

From This Is London

Tory grandee Chris Patten has emerged as a surprise candidate to be chairman of the BBC. Lord Patten is the only heavyweight public figure among the five names that are expected to form the shortlist for the Corporation's new head.

There have been suggestions that big-name candidates have been hard to find, partly because some have considered that the job is not as attractive as in the past, and partly because of the comparatively low salary.

Four other names in the hat are thought to include:

  • Chitra Bharucha, currently acting chairman of the BBC Trust.
  • Richard Hooper, former deputy head of the regulator OFCOM
  • Sir John Tusa, currently manager of the Barbican arts complex and former BBC World Service chief
  • Sir Stuart Hampson who is stepping down from chairmanship of the John Lewis retail chain.

Umm, no mention of John Beyer

From Shaun on The Melon Farmers Forum

I notice Mr. Beyer`s petition has now closed with 4081 signatures... Hardly the "hundreds of thousands" he was hoping for... It goes to show that most people don't seem to care one way or another about this issue. Except that privately they would tell me that censorship of consenting adult material, of the kind Beyer wants to see imposed, on ADULTS is plain wrong.

From the Beyer`s mediawatch site:

Mr Beyer concluded Almost 600 people have already signed (the petition) but it is vital that it attracts hundreds of thousands of signatures so that the Prime Minister is not left in any doubt about the strength of public feeling against offensive and harmful pornography.

27th March  Beyer disappointed...

John Beyer

Lock up all porn viewers!

But at least he got a response to his petition

From Number 10

We [The Prime Minister's Office] received a petition [with 4081 signatures] asking:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to steadfastly proceed with plans announced in the Queen's Speech to make possession of extreme pornography illegal and to include a much wider range of pornographic imagery, such as R18 material, within the scope of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Whilst welcoming this announcement, your petition also expresses concern that the proposals outlined by the Government should cover a wider range of pornographic imagery. The Government certainly understands that pornographic material is offensive to many people and it may be helpful to set out these issues in the broader context of the Government's approach to regulation of adult material in general.

Government policy is that controls on published material should aim to strike a balance between freedom of expression and protection of the public, and should be proportionate to the potential harm that might be caused. At the extreme, there is material which we believe should not be published at all, which is be covered by the criminal law. The Government considers that criminal sanctions should be reserved for material featuring indecent photographs of children, which are covered by the Protection of Children Act 1978, and for material which is considered by the courts to be likely to cause harm in that it is likely to "deprave and corrupt" persons "likely to see, hear or read it", which is covered by the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA).

In the consultation on the possession of extreme pornographic material, the Government put forward a case for making a limited category of extreme pornographic material, which it would already be illegal to publish or distribute in this country under the OPA, illegal to possess. We believe this is necessary to combat the circumvention of existing controls which has been made possible by the development of new technologies. We are determined to continue to act against publishers where we can but we also require the individual to take greater responsibility with regard to this material. The aim is not to bring additional material within the scope of the law.

The general test of obscenity is flexible, allowing the courts to reflect society's attitudes towards pornographic and other material. The OPA applies equally to material published over the internet, though the overwhelming majority of potentially obscene material published on the internet originates abroad, in countries which do not share our approach to this material and is therefore outside our jurisdiction. This development has caused us to take action to plug this gap as I have mentioned above.

There have been successful prosecutions for internet related offences under the OPA and there were 30 prosecutions under the Act in 2004 (the last year for which figures are available). We continue to believe that the OPA is a flexible tool with which to tackle a wider range of obscene material according to the standards of the day. As set out in the response to the consultation, we intend to increase the maximum penalty for offences under the Act from three years to five years imprisonment.

With regard to your views about extending the proposals to more mainstream material, banning possession of any material is a serious step. We consulted widely on our proposals last year and acknowledge that there will always be debate about where the line should be drawn.


20th March   Update: Politics of Porn Debated ...


Durham University logo
Criminalising the Possession of Extreme Porn

From The Times

Step forward Jane Austen, or rather the eponymous heroine of Emma as she remarks to her father: One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. Those words went to the heart of the debate during the conference at Durham, Positions on the Politics of Porn , which drew together a range of groups, from law professors to bondage aficionados, with a special interest in the proposed new offence.

The argument went something like this: I may not understand your sexuality, indeed I may find the images you like to view grotesque and repugnant, but is that sufficient reason to criminalise the act of viewing? All parties agreed that possessing internet footage of, for example, a genuine strangulation should be unlawful.

Far more contentious were scenes involving actors or consensual partners, where the explicit footage appears to show a violent asphyxiation but is actually the realistic playing out of a fantasy. Under the proposals, it would be illegal to possess such images.

From Conto on the Backlash forum: SeeNoEvil

I didn't myself feel it was a 'choreographed bitchfest'. Clare McGlynn as chair seemed admirably impartial (her newspaper interview aside), and I still don't know what her point of view is on this specific issue. She brought in Yaman Akdeniz and Avedon Carol. There was an odd two-tier system with the three on the platform, four 'respondents' who had time allotted to speak from the floor, and then open discussion. I think this was largely a matter of the order in which potential speakers came to the organisers' attention and late changes to platform speakers.

Jill Radford (platform) was an old-school Dworkinite, Clare Phillipson (respondent) hysterically so. Gavin Phillipson (platform) was more measured but was still for the law and thought it was justified in HR terms too. Deborah put our case well. Yaman Akdeniz seemed pretty muted about it all, but Avedon was strong and forthright. The Internet Watch Foundation woman seemed not totally convinced by the law both in conversation with us and in her speech. No doubt she accepted it at one level but without the strength of feeling or argument shown by any of the pro-law side.

The police representative (actually head of the Obscene Pubs unit so pretty senior), seemed pretty objective though I missed a lot of what he said.

The great majority of the floor said nothing and it was hard to gauge their opinion. I don't think it should be assumed that the Dworkin tendency was accepted, frankly they gave an old hardline view that these days is likely to be seen as loony feminazism by any not in their camp. Andrew Norfolk's article is in my opinion a fair record of what was said and I don't think it allows the pro-law faction to sound any better than they did at the time.


4th March   Comment: Ass Worship ...


The law's an ass

Thanks to Bob:

After being concerned about possible prosecution watching sexual torture in Casino Royal . What is the chances of being prosecuted for watching an under 18 naked on stage in Equus . Does the theatre restrict under 18's from seeing this play especially the girl fans of Daniel Radcliffe.


26th February   The Time and Place for Extreme Porn ...


Since the dawn of civilisation

Thanks to Alan

A few years ago, I spent an interesting couple of days on holiday viewing pornography. A major technological advance enabled me to view some scenes of lesbian sadomasochism. The "advance" was the invention of lasting pigments which had allowed the naughty pictures to survive nearly 2000 years under volcanic ash (text in Italian).

The local brothel was closed on my arrival, the earth having moved for the last customers one day in A.D. 79, but its collection of porn remains visible.

Goat bothering in ancient timesThen, on to Naples, where enquiring minds want to know what this bloke is doing to this goat!

Better get rid of my guidebook before the Dangerous Pictures Act arrives!

And coming right up to date, the peripatetic actress Niki Flynn has recently filmed her latest effort, The Spy , for the German company Pain4Fem.

Note the storyline and costumes, especially the silly armband with a previously unknown design worn by the doms. What gets censorious German knickers in a twist isn't the S&M but display of a swastika!


21st February   Opinion: Prison Expansion ...


Sex & the Psyche book coverInterest in submissive sex and domination is surprisingly high

From Alan

A new book is just about to be published, Sex & the Psyche by Brett Kahr

This is fascinating, since Kahr claims (on the basis of a huge sample of 19,000 people) that 33% have submissive fantasies and 29% have dominant fantasies. Depending on the overlap of people who harbour both varieties of naughty thoughts, and a UK population of 60 million, that gives something between 20 million and 37 million people in the UK. If just 1% have Dangerous Pictures of BDSM naughtiness, that gives something between 200,000 and 370,000 criminals under the proposed legislation. If efficient Plod nicks just 10% of those, that means between 20,000 and 37,000 extra prisoners, requiring a minimum of more than 25% extra cells, maybe nearly as many as 50%.


26th January   Vulnerable to Extremism ...


see no evil forum logoGiven a likely ban first, investigate later attitude, who will want to work with kids

From Graham on the SeeNoEvil forum

I came across a Parliamentary discussion of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill.

This, as far as I can see, is a proposal to Make provision in connection with the protection of children and vulnerable adults by ensuring that people deemed "unsafe" by an "Independent Barring Board" cannot work with these groups.

Now this is all very laudable, however in the debate I found the following:

As I was saying, the pornography amendments—Nos. 114 to 118 and 122 to 127—ensure that the IBB can consider behaviour involving child pornography and conduct involving violent pornography that the IBB considers to be inappropriate. That applies equally to barring for both lists—a change that has been made as a result of a debate in another place—thereby expanding the focus of the children’s list from just child pornography, so that it also includes violent pornography.

Interest in child pornography is a matter that we wish the IBB to be able to consider, given the sexual interest in children that that indicates. Clearly, anyone who is unable to understand that that is unacceptable behaviour is precisely the kind of person that the scheme was designed to consider for barring. Similar considerations apply in respect of the most extreme and violent forms of pornography. The Secretary of State has the power to give guidance to the IBB in relation to inappropriate behaviour involving violent pornography. It is intended that that should be used so that acceptable behaviour involving adult pornography is excluded from consideration, while all pornography that is unlawful can be considered.

In other words, if you work with "vulnerable adults" and you're found to have "violent pornography", you could find yourself out of a job!


10th January   Cameron Beyond the Pale ...


WebCameronDavid Cameron comments on the Dangerous Pictures Bill

David Cameron has a weblog where he invites issues for his comment. He was asked:

What are your views on the proposed legislation on ' violent pornography ' will you and your party be voteing for or against it.As the legislation stands possession of images of sexual violence or simulated sexual violence would mean prosecution and a possible 3 years prison sentence.If images are taken and kept involving two consenting adults for private use they could be prosecuted under the legislation. Would you vote for or against?, what are your reasons. What evidence is there to prove a link between viewing violent sexual pornography and committing a violent sexual criminal act. Articles 8&10 of the European Convention on Humans Rights would be breached .

David Cameron responded:

"I think most people would agree that the pornography the Government wants to tackle is well beyond the pale. The kind of thing they say they are talking about is violence which is life threatening or likely to result in serious, disabling injury.

[Note, paragraph deleted, see next news item]

At the moment, everyone is able to report to the Internet Watch Foundation computer pornography which is criminally obscene and which is hosted in the UK.

But as you say, the Government now wants to legislate to ban the possession of extreme pornography, for example off the internet on sites from overseas. The Bill has yet to be introduced to Parliament but, once it is published, we will obviously consider the proposals very carefully. The Government says it has looked at things like human rights considerations. But with any new legislation, we will need to make sure it is necessary and that it will work properly and fairly before we decide whether or not to back it.

14th January   Update: Cameron Edited...


WebCameronDavid Cameron edits comments on the Dangerous Pictures Bill

Thanks to Alan

The paragraph in David Cameron's response was later deleted with a note to highlight that it had been changed:

I know that people like Liz Longhurst, whose daughter Jane was murdered in 2003, have done a huge amount to raise awareness on this issue.

(Graham Coutts is charged with the murder but the retrial has yet to reach the courts)

It's a bit worrying, though, that legislation possibly sending people down for three years is in the hands of MPs, including a party leader, who don't understand such basic concepts as prejudicing a trial.

On a more positive note, Cameron's response is, I think, reasonably nuanced, and I don't think he deserves too hard a kicking. The first sentence is unhelpful to opponents of censorship, but Cameron then says, The kind of thing they say they are talking about is violence which is life threatening or likely to result in serious, disabling injury. This is worth looking at:

  1. "They say" - maybe some scepticism about what the government intends, or at least not rushing to identify himself with it. (Note also "the government says" in the last paragraph.)
  2. "violence which is life threatening or likely to result in serious, disabling injury" - reflects the concession wrung out of the government by Backlash, and maybe giving a basis on which to push for opposition to wide-ranging legislation which would catch all sorts of innocuous sadomasochistic activity.

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