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Licensed to repress...

Belfast to prosecute Miss Behavin

Link Here24th November 2007
Belfast ArmsL Morality above the lawA Belfast city centre sex shop is to be prosecuted for trading without a licence.

In 2003, the city council refused to grant Miss Behavin' Ltd a licence to operate a sex shop in the Gresham Street/North Street area.

However, the issue has been the subject of a legal wrangle over the past four years.

The council case against Miss Behavin' Ltd, which has been pending since 2005, will now go ahead on 18 December.

After the licence was refused, Miss Behavin' Ltd applied to the Northern Ireland High Court for a judicial review of the ruling. That court dismissed the application and found in favour of the council in 2004. However, that decision was reversed by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal in September 2005. In November 2005, Belfast City Council decided to appeal the Court of Appeal judgement to the House of Lords. Five Law Lords unanimously overturned the Court of Appeal judgement in April, and awarded the council costs.

Miss Behavin' Ltd is appealing that judgement and has now lodged papers with the European Court of Human Rights. Last week, an application on behalf of the defendant to adjourn the prosecution pending the outcome of the European Court, was rejected by Belfast Magistrates Court.



Unlicensed in Preston...

Fined 1500 for selling R18s from unlicensed shop

Link Here2nd November 2007

HM Courts Service logoA man who sold hardcore porn from a Preston sex shop has been fined.

The man admitted selling unclassified videos and magazines from the Pirate Shop, on New Hall Lane in the city and was ordered to pay more than 1,500.

However he insisted that he did not own the shop and was unaware that it was not licensed to sell the material.

He pleaded guilty eight charges of selling R18-rated and unclassified videos which magistrates in Preston heard showed "graphic sex scenes".

Trading SubStandards officer Nick McNamara, of Lancashire County Council, said: Regardless of your attitude towards this type of shop, it is true to say that licensed sex shops pay a hefty price to stock this type of product.

These fees are currently 769 for the first licence and 384 every other year and there are checks on the location of licensed shops and on the people who run them, and no such checks were carried out here.

The magistrates told him that the material which was 189 unclassified DVDs and related paraphernalia seized in the raids March this year would be destroyed.

The man was ordered to pay 1,100 in fines for the eight separate charges and 482.04 costs.


3rd October

    Waving Two Fingers at the Authorities ...


Unlicensed sex shop proprietor faces jail

Based on an article from This is North Scotland see full article

A businessman who waves two fingers at the authorities is facing a possible prison sentence after admitting possessing and supplying pornographic videos and DVDs.

John Baigrie has repeatedly had his applications for a licence for his John Winters sex shop rejected by Aberdeen City Council. Despite that, he sold pornographic material which can only be sold in a licensed sex shop.

He continued with the enterprise, despite getting several convictions for doing so, losing thousands of pounds in a proceeds of crime action, and forfeiting boxes of videos and DVDs.

Sheriff Douglas Cuisine warned yesterday that Baigrie may be jailed.

His agent, solicitor Christopher Maitland, told Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday his client did no "physical harm to the public". Sheriff Cuisine responded: No physical harm to the public - runs a sex shop without a licence and waves two fingers at the authorities. He just ignores the local authority saying 'no you're not getting a licence' and continues to re-offend.

On August 25 last year, Baigrie supplied council trading standards officer David Francis with two DVDs which had been classified with an R18 rating. He admitted both offences, which were committed at the Urquhart Road shop. The shop is now closed.

Sheriff Cuisine deferred sentence for a medical re-port, but said he had not closed his mind to the possibility of a custodial sentence.


15th August

    Update: SubStandard Council ...


Belfast ArmsL Morality above the lawContinued persecution of Belfast sex shops

Belfast council refuse to give licenses seemingly without adequate justification, then they blame the shops for trading without a licence.

Based on an article from see full article

The owner of a Belfast sex shop was today fined a total of 2,000 at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Kevin Robinson, who trades as Private Lines at Gresham Street in Belfast, faced eight charges under the Video Recordings Act.

The case was brought by the Trading SubStandards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

On 9 June 2006, trading standard officers visited the premises of Private Lines, as part of an exercise into the trading practices of sex shops in Belfast city centre.

Over 630 DVDs and videos were seized, either because they were unclassified or were marked with an R18 classification. R18 classification can only be sold in a licensed sex shop and Robinson was not in possession of such a licence.

The court also agreed to a forfeiture order in respect of the DVDs and videos which were seized.


17th August

    Punished and Screwed ...


Prosecution of unlicensed Carlisle shop referred to Crown Court

Based on an article from News and Star see full article

The owner of an unlicensed sex shop has admitted supplying graphic videos – one featuring staged footage of women being raped.

Peter Burns pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed sex shop in the city's Botchergate area.

Carlisle magistrates felt the content of one of the videos was so serious that they have now sent his case to crown court for sentence. They felt their powers to impose a maximum of 12 months in prison were not sufficient in this case.

The most contentious film, called Spanked and Raped , showed graphic simulated rape scenes – one with a knife-wielding man forcing himself on a woman in a forest.

It was one of 281 videos and DVDs – which were sold for about 50 each – recovered from his premises by Trading SubStandards.

Carlisle magistrates heard that the investigation was prompted by an anonymous complaint.

Undercover Trading Standards officers visited the unlicensed premises and conducted test-purchasing. They raided the property and uncovered the explicit pornography.

Burns appeared in court yesterday facing nine charges of supplying unclassified videos, four charges of supplying classified videos and one of using premises as an unlicensed sex establishment. He pleaded guilty.

Geoff Clapp, defending, played down the violent content of the material, claiming similar videos depicting scenes of brutality and sexual content could be bought on the internet or in supermarkets: There are others which are equally as bad, or worse, which are freely available to members of the public. I also want to make it perfectly plain that none of the videos or DVDs recovered from the shop have anything whatsoever to do with children.

Jonathan Farnworth, prosecuting, disputed comments that the violent material in Spanked and Raped was freely available.

Clapp also blamed the council for setting a cost of over 12,000 a year for a sex shop license – more than double the price in places like Newcastle and Preston.

The case will go to crown court on September 14.


19th September

    Update: Contemptible ...


One year for violent porn sold from unlicensed shop

Based on an article from News & Star

Peter Burns has been jailed for a year for selling pornographic videos from an unlicensed sex shop he ran in the centre of Carlisle.

A judge at the city's crown court said Burns had shown 'contempt for the law' by reopening the William Street shop and restocking its shelves just days after it was raided by police and trading standards officers.

Some of the DVDs on sale were said to be violently pornographic and would never have been allowed to be sold in this country, even with a licence.

One, called Spanking and Rape , was a lengthy video containing two graphic staged rape scenes, one with a knife-wielding man forcing himself on a woman in a forest.


21st July

    Update: High Percentage Fine ...


Ludicrous fine for high percentage of erotic stock reduced on appeal

Based on an article from York Press   see full article

A sex shop owner has managed to persuade a judge and two magistrates that 14,000 was too much to pay for not having a licence.

Andrew Clark was said to have broken the law when he sold sexual items from XES in Goodramgate, because he didn't have a licence to do so, said Nathan Adams, prosecuting for City of York Council. (Note that R18s were not being sold)

Adams told the court a licence cost 7,126 a year and York magistrates fined Clark 14,000 plus 1,108 prosecution costs earlier this year.

Clark admitted running a sex shop without a licence and appealed against the sentence to York Crown Court.

Judge Tom Cracknell, sitting with two magistrates on the appeal, said: The fine, he says, is eye-wateringly high and with that we agree.

The appeal court bench dropped the fine to 2,000, but kept the costs order and added a two-year conditional discharge.

This means that if Clark breaks the law again in the next two years, he could be resentenced for the sex shop offence.

Earlier, Adams told the court that council officers had first warned Clark in 2002 that he needed a licence because of the amount of erotic items he was selling.

He agreed to reduce his stock as it is legal to sell a small number of erotic items without a licence. Over the following years, Clark started the process to get a licence, but never finished it.

In October 2006, following a complaint from a member of the public, council officers found that 60% of stock on the shop's first floor and 17% on the ground floor were erotic items and prosecuted Clark.

Clark objected to some of the items found in October 2006 being classified as erotic, but agreed that he had pleaded guilty. He said council officers had visited him on at least three occasions between 2002 and 2006 and found nothing wrong with his erotic stock levels. He added that in October 2006, he had upped his stock ready for a Christmas rush.

Speaking after the case, businessman Andrew Clark, who runs XES with his wife Carol, said: We are ecstatic. It is a victory for lingerie and adult product shops like ours. It was an astronomical amount that would have made us bankrupt and meant we would have to shut up the shop. I could not find a single unlicensed shop that had been fined for merely having a larger percentage of adult products on display than the council considered appropriate for an unlicensed store.

Fines of that size are unheard of in the adult industry and it was widely criticised for potentially caused huge ramifications because it set a ridiculous precedent. Not only is it myself and my wife who are breathing a huge sigh, but also the entire adult industry.

Editor Dale Bradford, who reported on the fine in his magazine adult industry magazine ETO, said: I was surprised the case went to court in the first place. There have been lots of retailers prosecuted in the past but always for selling unclassified DVDs, never for selling a higher percentage of stock than the council deemed necessary. It would be more normal for trading standards to have a quiet word rather than resort to legal action. I am pleased that he has had it reduced to 2,000, although I still think this is too much.


20th June

    Moral Highgrounders ...


Belfast council refuse sex shop licenses and then persecute resulting unlicensed trade

Based on an press release from DETI   see full article

A Belfast sex shop owner was fined a total of 2000 at Belfast Magistrates' Court for offences under the Video Recordings Act.

In two cases, brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Brian Hope, trading as 'Naughty Butt Nice' at 2 Smithfield Square, Belfast and as 'Gresham Bookshop' at 2 Gresham Street, Belfast, pleaded guilty to sixteen charges under the Act.

Mr Connor, Resident Magistrate, imposed a 2000 fine in relation to two charges and gave a conditional discharge for three years for each of the remaining fourteen charges.

In June 2006, as part of a Trading Standards Service exercise into the trading practices of the adult entertainment outlets, commonly referred to as sex shops, in the centre of Belfast, trading standards officers visited the premises of 'Naughty Butt Nice' and the 'Gresham Bookshop'.

Over 500 videos and DVDs were seized, either because they were unclassified or were marked with an 'R18' classification. Hope was not in possession of a sex shop licence.

The court also agreed to a forfeiture order in respect of the seized items.


4th July

    Update: Belfast Bollox ...


Rights abusing council persecutes sex shops

Based on an article from   see full article

Sex shop opponents demanded tougher punishments today after six outlets in central Belfast were fined a total of 3,000 for operating without licences.

Magistrates ordered the owners to pay up in cases brought by the City Council.

Kevin Robinson and Ian Oglesby, trading as Private Lines and Perfect Pleasures respectively, were each fined 500. Sharman Enterprises received the same penalty for separate premises trading as Miss Tique and Private. Belfast Magistrates` Court also imposed two 500 fines on Brian Hope, trading as Naughty Butt Nice and Gresham Book Shop.

The prosecutions followed the House of Lords earlier this year backing the City Council`s decision not to grant a sex shop licence.

Jim Kirkpatrick, a DUP councillor who chairs the authority`s Licensing Committee, said: It`s a bit of a joke. Porn videos can be purchased for one euro in Amsterdam and will sell in this country for 50. [yeah yeah]

Kirkpatrick questioned whether the courts knew just how much money can be made through the porn business: Perhaps if they were they would adjust their penalties to be in line with what`s required.

[Perhaps the magistrates suspected that the council had refused to grant any at all licenses on moral grounds, which is of course illegal].


13th August

    Update: Rights Abuse in Belfast ...


Council may be taken to European Court

From the Belfast Telegraph see full article

A Belfast sex shop is set to square up against the city council in court again next month.

For the long running legal bust up between Smithfield adult entertainment outlet Miss Behavin' and Belfast City Council is set for its latest chapter at the Magistrates' Court next month.

Last week, the sex shop licence saga, which has been running since May 2002, was adjourned until September 4. The reason given in court was that the defence was "not ready to proceed" with the case to face a charge of using premises as a sex establishment without a licence.

Last month, Sunday Life revealed that the owner of the Gresham Street outlet is investigating the possibility of taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

It is believed that they have until October 25, 2007 to lodge an application with the European Court.


15th August

    Update: Immorality ...


Councillors commit the crime, shopkeepers get the fine

Belfast council refuse to give licenses seemingly without adequate justification, then they blame the shops for trading without a licence.

Based on an article from the see full article

The owner of Belfast sex shop, Misstique, has been fined a total of 546 at Belfast Magistrates' Court for offences under the Video Recordings Act.

In a case brought by Trading SubStandards, Christopher Hallam, who trades as Misstique at 27 Gresham Street, Belfast, today pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Act.

On 19 June 2006, Trading Standards Officers visited the premises of Misstique as part of an exercise into the trading practices of sex shops in the centre of Belfast.

Over 300 DVDs and videos were seized, either because they were unclassified or were marked with an R18 classification.

DVDs and videos are required to be marked with a classification and those marked with an R18 classification can only be sold in a licensed sex shop. Hallam was not in possession of such a license.

The court also agreed to a forfeiture order in respect of the video tapes and DVDs, which had been seized.


18th May

    Don't Bank on a Bank ...


Heroic bankers prosecuted for refusing to snitch

Bankers and accountants are now required by law to report suspicions of any financial wrong doings. The term 'money laundering' is used as it sounds more acceptable to 'report money laundering' than it is to snitch over petty crimes such as fiddling expenses.

From This Is Lancashire

Two bankers who failed to disclose suspicions that they were dealing with a brothel have avoided a jail sentence. The two, both senior staff with Lloyds TSB, have lost their jobs the court was told.

Judge Andrew Blake said they had committed "a sin of omission" by failing to notify the authorities that criminal money was possibly being laundered.

Mr McCready pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to report his suspicions, and Mr Fox denied the charge, but was convicted following trial.

Preston Crown Court heard that they were in senior managerial positions at the bank used by a Preston massage parlour called the Brazilia Health Studio which was linked to prostitution.

The bank had a system for notifying suspicions, said the prosecution, but the two men had failed to do so.

James Hawks, for Fox, said he had made a negligent mistake, an error of judgement. Irrespective of whatever sentence was passed, he had already been punished and humiliated: To an extent he has been punished enough.

Richard Haworth, for McCready, described him as a trusted, reliable, respected and hard-working man. Haworth said a report of him having sexual association with witnesses in the case was utterly rejected and that his client was broken and ashamed by his appearance in court.

Fox was fined 1,500 and McCready was fined 1,250.


11th May

    Sex Sensitive in York ...


Persecution for selling erotica

A strange case as no R18s were involved. So York council seem to object to what is legal to sell without a licence but somehow argue that 'too much' leads to a very large fine. Ann Summers trades around the country with large percentages of erotica and no licences.

From the Belfast Telegraph

A business man says he will go bankrupt after magistrates handed him a 15,000 court bill for running a sex shop without a licence.

Andrew Clark sold adult and sex items for years at XES, in Goodramgate, York, despite warnings from council officers that he needed a licence, York Magistrates were told.

Matt Boxall, of City of York Council, said that when the authority raided the shop last October, they found shelves loaded with erotic and sexual items.

The court heard the shop was still stocking adult items this week, though not in the same quantities.

Clark pleaded guilty to running a sex establishment without a licence, was fined 14,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution's 1,118.30 costs.

He later branded the sentence "absolutely diabolical": It's disgusting. I will just go bankrupt. It was out of all proportion to the seriousness of the offence. I will have to appeal.

Senior magistrate Rosemary Stubbs told him: Not only were you trading without a licence for a significant number of years but, to a certain extent, you still are.

In August 2002, a council licensing officer visited the shop and found it stocked so many sex trade items that he told Clark he had to reduce his adult stock or buy a licence. By December 2002, the sex trade stock had reduced significantly. In 2004, Clark contacted the council about getting a sex shop licence, but he still did not have one. On October 19, 2006, after getting a complaint about XES, officers raided the shop. Downstairs, about 17% of the stock was erotic or sex-related.

But a sign on a staircase warned customers "items of an adult nature" were on display upstairs. On the upper floor, 60% of the stock was of a sexual nature.

Clark disputed the figures, saying the council had included non- erotic items such as those worn by women on hen nights and every PVC item in stock.

He claimed the correct percentage of sexual items was 38%.

Since the raid, he said the sex trade stock had been reduced.


5th March

    Moral Override ...


Belfast Council take their blanket sex shop ban to the House of Lords

From the Belfast Telegraph
See also Will the shutters ever come down on sex shops?
See also Sex shop objections can be considered out of time

The long-running bust-up between sex shops and Belfast City Council is due to be settled by the Law Lords within a matter of weeks.

For five of the country's leading legal authorities are currently considering the saga of Belfast City Council's battle with the city's adult entertainment outlets.

The council took its case to Westminster in a last gasp bid to overturn a Court of Appeal decision, which ruled that BCC had been wrong to reject a licence application from a Belfast sex shop.

Missbehavin', a Smithfield based adult entertainment store, first applied for a licence in 2002. But it was refused in March 2003 when Belfast City Council announced a blanket ban on sex shops in the Gresham Street area.

However, the sex saga took a dramatic twist in 2005 when the Court of Appeal ruled the council's decision had breached the applicant's rights under the European Convention and was ordered to stump up a whopping 396,00 in costs.

But Belfast City Council appealed against that ruling and was granted leave to challenge it in the House of Lords last week.

A House of Lords' judicial office spokeswoman said that five crossbench law lords - Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger, Baroness Hale, Lord Mance and Lord Neuberger - had considered Belfast City Council's submission at a hearing last Monday.

She added that a decision by the law lords will be issued within the next six to eight weeks. A Belfast City Council spokesman confirmed that it had made an appeal to the law lords and claimed that its sex shop licensing ban did not contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

Six other shops are likely to be prosecuted if Belfast Council win their case


26th April

    Update: Less Important Human Rights ...


Nutters win a blanket ban on sex shops

So how many sex shop licenses have actually been granted in Northern Ireland?

From the BBC see full article
See also House of Lords Judgement

The House of Lords has backed Belfast City Council's decision not to grant a licence to a sex shop.

The council had consistently refused to licence Miss Behavin' Ltd on Gresham Street, in the city centre.

The shop owner's appealed this and the Court of Appeal ruled against the council. However, five Law Lords have now overturned that judgement.

Trevor Martin of the council said it had not said no to sex shops, we have said no to sex shops in that area.

The four-year-long legal wrangle began in 2003 when councillors decided that the Gresham Street/North Street area of Belfast was not an appropriate place for sex shops and refused to license them.

They said the appropriate number of sex shops was nil. Among the reasons they gave were proximity to schools, bus stops and areas of family shopping and because of future development of the area.

The sex shop company subsequently took legal action, however, in 2003 the Northern Ireland High Court ruled in favour of the council. That decision was reversed by the Appeal Court a year later which ruled the city's council had contravened the human rights of the company by refusing the licence to trade.

The latest decision by the Lords means council prosecutions against Miss Behavin' and six other sex shops in the area for trading without a licence - which have been on hold pending the outcome of the appeal to the Lords - may proceed.

Ruling in favour of the council, Lord Hoffmann said: The right to vend pornography is not the most important right of free expression in a democratic society and the licensing system does not prohibit anyone from exercising it - it only prevents him from using unlicensed premises for that purpose.

Baroness Hale said: There are far more important human rights in this world than the right to sell pornographic literature and images in the back streets of Belfast city centre.

She said no one was suggesting pornographic literature and images should be inaccessible to those in Belfast who wished to gain access to them and, as far as the judges knew, the council had not refused to license sex establishments elsewhere in the city.

She said: There were good reasons for refusing to license establishments in this street and even better ones for refusing this particular company a licence. The suggestion that this is a disproportionate limitation on the company's right to freedom of expression is, to my mind, completely untenable.


23rd February

    Cheeky Monkey ...


Done for trading without a licence

Based on an article f rom Cambridge Evening News

Adrian Reading has been fined more than 1,500 after being caught out by Trading SubStandards.

Films which should only have been available from licensed sex shops were on offer from Reading's Cheeky Monkey and XXX Adult Takeaways services Others had not been classified and should not have been supplied.

Trading standards officers found 299 films in Reading's garage at his home in Huntingdon.

Huntingdon magistrates heard Reading was given a warning that he should either stop the business or get a licence for it after a complaint from a licensed sex shop operator who was worried about losing business.

Elaine Havord, defending, said: Whether we like it or not pornography is out there and people can buy it if they wish to. Mr Reading says he was providing a service. She said that Reading had only run the business while he was out of work and had a turnover of 500-600 a month.

David Broughton, a trading standards officer with Cambridgeshire County Council said: We do have the attitude that illegal businesses take away from genuine businesses which are paying rent and paying for licences.

Reading admitted two offences of supplying unclassified videos, two offences of possessing unclassified videos for supply and three offences of possessing sex shop standard videos for supply.

He was fined 1,600 and ordered to pay 1,906 costs.


22nd February

    Loyal Employee ...


Refusing to identify owners of unlicensed DVD shop

Based on an article f rom Islington Tribune

The owners of a shop selling hardcore sex DVDs are to remain in the shadows.

Phillip Gerrard McAree, who manages DVD Extra in Caledonian Road, King's Cross, has refused to divulge to police the names of the owners of the shop.

McAree appeared before Highbury Corner magistrates when he admitted 10 counts of possession with intent to supply unclassified DVDs with titles including Enema Extravagance and Transgender Benders .

McAree is named on most of the shop's official paperwork, including its business rates, but claims he is merely the manager.

Martin Berry, defending, told the bench: Mr McAree is a pawn in the porn game. Other people are in control and make the money. He started work as a part-time employee and completed the paperwork for business rates. He added that the reason for McAree's role might have been to divert attention from the people really running the premises.

The police case began in December 2005 when a member of Islington Council's Trading Standards team posing as a customer bought a DVD, Big Teens 3 , for 20. In a raid later that day, a number of DVDs were seized, all of which were not rated by the British Board of Film Classification.

Mumtaz Keshani, prosecuting for Islington Council, said: The defendant was interviewed under caution at the scene and would not give the names of his employers or the owners.

In April last year, five months after the original raid, the court heard that McAree sold the DVD Pistons: It's a Man's World, Part 1 to an undercover officer.

Berry said that, prior to earning 300 a week working at DVD Extra, McAree was employed as a porter for Network Rail and a gardener for Southwark Council. He said: Mr McAree finds himself in a difficult position and is most certainly not the person who is pulling the strings.

The DVDs have been confiscated and McAree will be sentenced on March 13.


20th February

    Extreme Justice ...


Porn seller gets 21 months and a 350,000 fine

Based on an article f rom ic Berkshire

A Reading porn seller has been ordered to hand over more than 350,000 he made from a mail order blue movie business.

And a court heard Russell Tyler will have to sell five houses he owns across the Reading area to meet the August 9 payment deadline set by Judge Christopher Critchlow.

Reading Crown Court heard the market value of the houses was 411,860 but the judge ruled he made 353,100 operating his porn business from a factory unit in Milford Road and also ordered him to pay 8,750 costs.

Tyler and business colleague John Wilkins were each jailed for 21 months last July.

Tyler, who admitted making 100,000 in 15 months, pleaded guilty to five charges of converting criminal property.


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