Here we go again, yet another slippery slope into the abyss of ill-thought out legislation that was promised, by the then Labour Government, to never be used on nice, normal law abiding citizens....
This time the legislation in question is the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, and in particular section 63 - stating images are "extreme" if they are seen as "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" - with subsection 7 saying;
“(7) An image falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following—
(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals"
Last Monday the CPS started a case trying to persuade a jury that images of fisting should be classified as "extreme pornography"...if successful the defendant could face up to 3 years in custody and being whacked on the Sex Offenders' Register...oh, and that's not even mentioning the trauma this guy is going through. The defendant is a chap called Simon Walsh, an alderman for the City of London and a barrister who specialised in police law and has previously been involved in cases prosecuting corrupt police officers.
The case itself is fascinating, mainly for the fact that CPS took it on. After arresting Mr Walsh the police could find no porn on his work computer or indeed his home computer. Instead, the police had to go through Mr Walsh's hotmail account until they came across one e-mail with a few images attached. The images show pictures of fisting and objects inserted down the urethra - I don't want to talk about the rights/wrongs of those acts, the fact is they are both legal and the images attached to the e-mail were consensual....
Now, for anyone sharp reading that above paragraph you will have noticed a few major issues;
A) The images are in his hotmail account, and as per the terms of hotmail...Microsoft own all content within hotmail and give permission for users to access it. In short, you're technically not in possession of anything in your hotmail account.
B) The e-mail was sent to him, the person who sent the e-mail isn't being prosecuted. So, if I don't like you I could merely send you an e-mail full of dodgy images, tip the police off, sit back and laugh as you get prosecuted.
C) The police found the images and opened the e-mail to show them, thus removing any evidence that the images had/or had not been opened...fail.
And finally, the acts undertaken in the images are legal. Labour triumphed once again, whilst in Government they thought they had the right to decide that consenting - the key word here - sex acts are unsuitable for the public.
Either way, I'm not one for conspiracy theories - or fisting - but the fact that during Mr Walsh's past professional life he was involved in prosecuting corrupt police officers could somewhat explain the decision to prosecute and the reason for such enthusiasm being shown by the police for finding a few pornographic photos in his possession.
Hopefully this case will highlight, and lead to changes, in this ridiculous, fahrenheit 451styled law. With the evidence that has been presented so far, I wish Mr Walsh all the best. To follow the trial, search twitter for the hashtag #porntrial or follow @obscenitylawyer who is tweeting live from the court.
Ha, and in the process of writing this post the CPS have well and truly astonished me; "People who attend sexual health clinics engage in more risky practices, do they not?"