back to article Girls Aloud net obscenity case falls at first hurdle

A landmark case, which could have led to draconian new restrictions on what UK authors may publish on the internet – and elsewhere – has been dismissed. Prosecution counsel were due today to open their case against Civil Servant Darryn Walker, aged 35, of South Shields, who was accused of publishing an allegedly obscene story …

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  1. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    Excellent news...

    ... but you have to wonder how much public money they wasted on this farce.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    so, he did nothing illegal

    but he still lost his job...

  3. Ally J
    FAIL

    Madness

    Any idea how much this has all cost? The bloke concerned has lost his job and will probably take some time finding a new one in the current climate, so 'we' have to pay him benefit. The court costs are doubtless astronomical on both sides, especially as this was a case likely to set a precedent so everyone would want a go. All for a net result of "It's OK to write violent smut about Girls Aloud".

    Daft.

  4. Code Monkey

    @Graham Marsden

    Just because this didn't result in a prosecution does not mean it's a waste of money. In fact the law has been further clarified and now it's less likely that more public money will be spent chasing smut writers.

  5. Man Outraged
    WTF?

    What a Total Farce

    WTF What a Total Farce

    Shame that the recent government had littered the statute books with many more crud laws like the OPA over the last 12 years which will probably lead to many more legal FAILs of this nature...

  6. AC 4
    Thumb Up

    now that it's not obscene,

    can you publish it please? Or perhaps a playmobil reconstruction? The title of the piece makes it sound particularly enjoyable

  7. LJ
    FAIL

    Ironic, really...

    ...because this case would've made the story more popular, and thus even easier to find, yet the prosecution *still* couldn't provide any evidence.

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Caveat Scriptor

    So he's lost his job? So what. Serve's him right for publishing stuff to the internet and forgetting the cardinal rule. Everything on the internet is public or potentially public.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Love the Met.

    So the Met thought that it was important to bring the first OPA case for decades because the story was easily accessible to underage fans, but didn't bother to check if the story was easily accessibly to underage fans.

  10. Paul Hates Handles

    Also...

    ...if they make writing this sort of tittilating fodder illegal it'll instantly make an entire genre of music illegal. Which is just ridiculous, next they'll be banning mainstream horror and movies like Saw.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Constructive dismissal?

    So, on what basis did he lose his job? Surely the failure of the prosecution to offer any evidence and the not guilty verdict should mean either reinstatement and back pay or compensation for constructive dismissal?

    If not then it's a travesty!

  12. mmiied

    @AC 4

    I have read better

  13. Greg J Preece

    Rollocks

    "the fact that it made reference to a band popular with young people"

    Got to get the kiddies in there somewhere. If you want to win an argument these days, just tell everyone how you're doing it for the kids.

    Twunt.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    I would sue the IWF if I was him.

    For libel, loss of earnings, loss of future earnings, trauma, etc.

    Sue them for ruining my life.

    Posting online anonymously about rape is totally different from letting everyone in the UK know that you write stories about Girls aloud being raped and murdered.

    We all have our little secrets that we don't want people to know.

    What has been done to him is absolutely disgraceful.

  15. John Macintyre
    Big Brother

    it's called utopia....

    @Paul Hates Handles

    Did you not see how the state was run in V for Vendetta? or several other shite movies of similar ideals? (or indeed 1982...). anything the police disagree with is therefore wrong, i think dictatorships started that way...

  16. MarkJ

    @Brian

    Most likely he'll never need to work again. We need to stop thinking that there are two states, innocent and guilty. There are three; guilty, innocent and suspected. No government level/department can employ a suspected celebrity-snuff-author. It would be political suicide.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Evidence ?

    Just enter:

    Girls Scream Aloud

    into Google. You don't even need the bracket or quotes and the article is at the top of the list. Why ? Because of this case. The original article has been reportedly removed.

    If the Law was to protect the innocent, The Daily Star and The Met have done exactly the opposite by their actions!

    For those old enough, this seems to be similar to that old fart on the BBC who banned them from playing Relax... it went to No. 1 and proved negative publicity is very powerful.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and another reason.

    Why the IWF must go.

    Seriously, if there was no legal precedent suggesting it was illegal why the fuck was the IWF snooping around in the first place?

    The IWF has repeatedly tried to make censorship land grabs in increasing it's remit and attempting to censor ever more this last few years.

    It's getting dangerous, it's no longer fit for purpose and it must go. No one had a problem with the IWF when it stuck to producing a blacklist of child porn sites.

    The fact it is repeatedly attempting to go beyond that remit is evidence enough that you cannot expect an organisation like the IWF to stay within it's original bounds, it will always eventually try and creep beyond it's remit with the aim of extending it's remit.

    There is still of course no evidence though that the IWF actually achieves anything - certainly there does not appear to be any evidence it is decreasing the amount of paedophiles in society or even preventing those who want to see the material from accessing it. Those who want to be protected from accidently stumbling across the material have plenty of options just like with any other distasteful material they do not wish to see.

    I would rather see all money currently poured into the IWF go to a police unit dedicated to catching real child abusers and producers of the material in the first place and more done on an international level to name and shame countries who do not cooperate in such operations where they stretch abroad. Instead however time and money is wasted on cases that are flawed from the off like this, or on massive money guzzling operations like operation ore that mostly just catch victims of credit card fraud and ruin their whole lives for them by mislabelling them as child molestors.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our moral guardians

    The Daily Star???

    Oh FFS, stop the World, I want to get off.

  20. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Lost job

    Not laid off on full-pay, not kept on with a "we're keeping a close eye on you sunshine", but turfed out and probably with loss of pension and other benefits, with a reputation which looked rather damaged.

    It probably now comes down to an issue 'of bringing into disrepute' as to whether dismissal was justified, but I hope Darryn Walker is readying the lawyers to recompense.

    Paris : The things I could write about her - I have an idea about, Paris, a chainsaw, Girls Aloud and a backyard full of cocks. It's hot stuff and culminates in a moral lesson on chicken management and deforestation.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends upon his contract

    You can also be dismissed for many things which are not actually illegal, time keeping, failing to carry out your duties, not conforming to a dress code or for actions which may harm your employers reputation.

    I'm also pretty sure that many female co-workers would feel pretty unfomfortable sharing office space with him, never mind members of the public (should his job be public facing)

    I suspect the last one may be the most applicable one, though he may have turned up in his Cheryl Cole styled Edgar suit (see film The Men in Black for the Edgar reference)

  22. Estariel
    Stop

    Sort your lives out!

    Some of you make me sick....

    Code Monkey : this wasn't "smut", it was "rape, mutilation and murder"

    Paul Hates Handlers : likewise, this wasnt "titilating fodder", it was "rape, mutilation and murder"

    AC4 : if you thought this was "particularly enjoyable" then please consult your psychiatrist or just hand yourself and your PC over to the police, and do us all a favour

    Get your categories sorted:

    a) innocent

    b) evil, but not illegal

    c) illegal but unprovably so

    d) guilty as charge

    Just because the guy isnt doing time for it, doesnt automatically make it ok

    And those of you who think this guy is still a suitable person to be employed by the state, remind yourselves that there's plenty of activities which are contractually grounds for dismissal, but which are not illegal.

  23. Lord Raa

    Well...

    I can't say that I'm desperate to read this story as it sounds unpleasant, but I'm glad that the case has collapsed, if only to preserve the right to post works of complete fiction online.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    alt.sex.stories.text

    This story seems to suggest the article in question was published on the aforementioned newsgroup whereas the BBC's story reports that it was posted on "his 12-page blog". Is there a final word on where it would actually posted? It seems to me it would make a big difference to the outcome, as having it posted on a web-based journal would make it far easier for The Children to stumble upon it accidentally than if it was posted in a specialist newsgroup dedicated to stories of a sexual nature.

    Of course, I wouldn't put it past the BBC to refer to the whole of Usenet as a "blog". Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC used "blogging" to describe all forms of Internet-based text communication.

  25. David Neil

    A lot of assumptions being made re. the job

    I don't know the answers, but I'd like to know the following:

    What was his job?

    Did he lose his job as a direct result of being charged?

    If so, was it in his contract that conduct which reflected badly on his employer could result in him loosing his job?

    Was he a permanent employee or a contractor who didn't have his conract renewed as expected?

    If he feels he has lost his job unfairly, then why hasn't he requested a tribunal, he just coughed for a QC?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    @AC 11.40

    Presumably if they sacked him for reasons associated with the incident then he can now sue for wrongful dismissal. What you do in your spare time is your own business, provided its not criminal or is in breach of contract. I'd be rather surprised if CS contracts forbid employees from writing bad literature in their spare time, and I can't see how they could get him for bringing them into disrepute since he didn't write about them, or as far as I know even mention who he worked for, and nobody reading it is going to think the content reflects the opinion of the CS anyway. It'd be one thing if he'd worked for an oil company and had written about oil prices or refinery safety or whatever.

  27. Adam 52 Silver badge

    @Constructive dismissal?

    Lots of reasons for him to be fired. When he was arrested he won't have turned up for work for one. Although given that he was a civil servant his employer was responsible for him not turning up.

    At the end of the day though, we have a legal system that allows people to assume guilty on arrest.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dail Star

    So how did the Daily Star find it? I wonder which reporter at the DS is an avid reader of text porn archives, and do they do it on works time?... Interesting job description if they do.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Happy face

    I have a happy face now, this is the first good thing I've seen on state sponsored censorship in over a year, maybe two? At least writing is safe from direct attack, however I still suspect that the government shall try and come at various things sideways with specific law on various subjects (incest, rape, mutilation, peadophillia, etc.) Much as they have on anything they can deem as terror related in certain peoples hands.

    So it's a little victory in a huge war of attrition that in the end we are almost certain to lose. But a victory none the less.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I mean, why?

    This seems to be the problem with the internet and the law. On one hand we have a huge repository of user created content, on the other a Judicial system that doesn't understand it and has no hard or fast rules on how to deal with it. In this case we have a rather *ahem* creative individual whose only real problem seems to be in his choice of Story Titles. Had he have given it a less obvious name and made sure he put in a rather explicit warning at the beginning of the story (or having the work flagged as 'adult' if the function exists on the site) he wouldn't have found himself in someone's legal sights.

    His only real crime is that he forgot a cardinal rule of the internet, "No matter what you post on the Internet, your going to offend someone, so protect your arse.". As for the MET, why on earth did they even bother? Okay, so its was based on real people (as per Rule 34), but it was posted in an Erotic Fiction archive... I'm sure if they looked hard enough they would find more (Although I'd love to see the overtime pulled on that investigation). Where they going to prosecute the entire archives writers?

    Although I'm sure there are reasons for it, I rally cannot understand why they even considered this case.

  31. Anonymous John
    Unhappy

    @ @Brian

    Actually because of the DNA retention policy, there are four.

    Guilty, innocent of a minor offence, innocent of a major offence, and suspected.

  32. Dennis
    Grenade

    Re: What a Total Farce

    "Shame that the recent government had littered the statute books with many more crud laws like the OPA over the last 12 years"

    Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

    It is the "Obscene Publications Act 1959". Many elections have passed since this law was enacted. This is a much better worded law than recent Acts such as the extreme pornography nonsense. The OPA criminalises the publication (not merely possession) of an article that has a tendency to "deprave and corrupt". This allows a jury to decide the verdict on the basis of the current attitude throughout society. Nor is the OPA limited to just images.

    Perhaps the MP's expenses rule book is an obscene publication. It seems to have corrupted them. But have they become depraved?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    @Estariel

    > this wasnt "titilating fodder", it was "rape, mutilation and murder"

    This was absolutely *not* "rape, mutilation and murder". This was a fictional article *about* "rape, mutilation and murder". The difference is that one is a horrific and despicable crime against humanity, while the other... well, isn't.

  34. mmiied
    Flame

    re:alt.sex.stories.text

    as far as I am aware it was posted on asstr in a spific collection of like sorties but since asstr is a reposatry it might be a repost from somewhere else

    @Estariel

    "it was "rape, mutilation and murder" " NO it was text discribing a fantisy story about rape mutilation and murder you will fins lost more in your local book store in the horror section and even in your local holy book if you look hard enought

    "Get your categories sorted:

    a) innocent

    b) evil, but not illegal

    c) illegal but unprovably so

    d) guilty as charge

    Just because the guy isnt doing time for it, doesnt automatically make it ok"

    only under catgoey d) should you suffer any sanction the first 3 are still inocent you might not like it but there are a lot of things I do not like that is the world live with it

  35. AC 4
    FAIL

    @Estariel

    Sorry, have you failed to distinguish between reality and fantasy? Granted I maybe should've said it sounded entertaining instead of enjoyable given the potential for sexual connotations but can you not see that it's to be read as fantasy and not as a guideline for an action in reality?

    I'm willing to bet that at some point in your life you have played a game that has resulted in you killing some other form of "life" in the game and that it brought a smile to your face. Shall we recommend you for psychiatric assessment too?

    You have also got your definitions confused, if something is "illegal but unprovably so" then it must therefore be legal. The Law does not set out what is legal, it sets out what is illegal and so if it doesn't fall into the "illegal" category it must therefore be legal, not the other way around.

    The guy is not doing time for it (mercifully) because he has a fundemental right to be able to compose and publish works of pure fantasy. Is everybody really a boring mindless drone in your utopian world? What this guy did in writing and publishing his story was 100% ok and I'd hate to live in your world where it seems it's not.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    You're all missing the point..

    He did nothing illegal, yet his life was turned upside down.

    Have any of you ever watched a gory slasher film? 18+ cert?

    Did you want to lynch the director for making it, or did you enjoy it for what it was. A bit of fun.

    This man didn't go around raping and murdering people, he just wrote about it.

    He lost his job and now when I type "Darryn Walker" into google I get links about how he has been charged for all kinds of crimes.

    It's not fair that an innocent man gets his life destroyed like this because of the IWF's "WONT SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!" attitude.

    "All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level,

    that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will

    understand it... Through clever and constant application of propaganda,

    people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way

    around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise." - Adolf Hitler.

  37. Mark .

    response

    @Gordon 10 :

    So by that reasoning, it's okay to fire you for publishing on this page?

    The problem was he didn't lose his job directly for publishing, but because of the prosecution. If he wasn't prosecuted, they'd have never known about it. It's unclear if he ever used his full name - the problem is that his details were found out as a result of an investigation by the Internet Watch Foundation and the police.

    Same with the Anon poster who talked about co-workers not wanting to share space. By that reasoning, should anyone accused of a crime be dismissed? If they're not uncomfortable, then either make arrangements to work in another bit of the office, or get another job yourself.

    @Estariel : You should try reading some Poppy Z Brite. These fictional depictions are not uncommon in mainstream bookstores.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lyric that sums it up

    "If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind, then give me the Electric Chair for all my future crimes".

  39. Graham Marsden

    @Code Monkey

    Yes, the law has (now) been clarified, but, as with the Dangerous Pictures Act, it would never have come to that had the law been written clearly in the first place.

  40. Paul Hates Handles
    Megaphone

    @John

    Aye, it really is getting just like that.

    England prevails :/

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Freedom of Thought

    The problem faced by the Prosecution under the OPA is not just to define what is obscene, but also to prosecute someone for finding a combination of certain letters tittilating. The release of endorphins based on a sequence of characters is a result of what is called 'thought' and the freedom of thought is the first and foremost one in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all its derivatives.

    I know this government has been trying hard to get Thoughtcrime on the books but thankfully the CPS realised it was gonna lose in the end.

  42. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    @Estariel

    No, *you* get *your* categories sorted:

    1) Not guilty.

    2) Guilty.

    There are *NO* other categories, unless you believe in trial by media, gossip, hearsay and innuendo.

    The guy wrote a work of FICTION, if you're going to start censoring stuff simply because you don't like it, let alone arresting people for doing so, you're on a very dangerous and slippery slope.

    If you don't like it, don't read it, but don't make ridiculous and unfounded assumptions about other people based on your own ignorance.

  43. JohnG

    @Estariel

    I have no interest in whatever this bloke wrote and he may well be a pervert - but "thoughtcrime" is not (yet) a crime in the UK.

    How could it be wrong for him to write about "rape, mutilation and murder" when it is apparently OK for Hollywood to produce horror films with the same sort of content? Provided the correct rating is applied, films are allowed to show "rape, mutilation and murder", provided they avoid directly showing certain sexual elements (although these can be implied or "out of shot").

    Whilst there might be many contractual grounds for dismissal, I doubt that "having perverted fantasies" is one of them.

  44. Deckchair
    Megaphone

    @ too numerous too mention

    1) He shouldn't have been arrested, but after the Star and the IWF got hold of it the Police had little choice but to act on a complaint. Can you imagine the outcry if they had done nothing? Also bear in mind it will have been the CPS's decision to prosecute the case after the arrest, which is where it should have died as it wasn't illegal.

    2) Once he was charged and it became apparent he was guilty of publishing his filth online his employer will have had no choice but to fire him. That sort of mentality is not conducive with most office environments. Again bear in mind it wasn't found that he didn't do it, only that it wasn't really illegal.

  45. Gordon 21

    IWF Win?

    In truth the IWF got the result it wanted even without winning the case.

    All it took was the Police to charge him and he's now lost his job(assuming that's the case, all articles are a little vague about this right now). Anyone else writing any stories even slightly dubious in nature will now think twice about actually submitting them.

    This is another 'crime'(like rape) that will cause you to loose your job and screw up your life by just being accused. Can he now sue the Police/CPS as they bought the case and then decided to submit 'no eveidence'?

  46. Estariel
    Grenade

    Stranger than Fiction

    @AC and mmiied

    Its not quite "fiction" when it's about real people.

    Try this.....edit the story text to use the real names of your mother, daughter, lover or wife, instead of the Girls Aloud.

    Now re-read it. Still feel the same way?

    Circulate the new version to your family and friends......it's not illegal, so that should be ok, right?

  47. Dave Murray
    Big Brother

    @Estariel

    Go have a read of your holy book. You'll find plenty of rape, mutilation and murder in there. Not to mention being told to sacrifice your son, being turned into a pillar of salt and being swallowed whole by a giant fish - often for doing exactly what your god tells you.

    You need to sort your categories too. There are plenty of crimes for which you can be convicted that are not evil. You can even be convicted of acts that your holy book will tell you are following the word of god. Innocent / guilty and good / evil are not synonymous.

  48. RichardB
    Big Brother

    @Estartiel The Troll

    Presumably you would like Agatha Christie to have gone to the 'chair for writing believable stories about murder?

    Or sent Sam Peckinpah packing for his portrayal of Straw Dogs?

    How about Spielberg for that one about the germans?

    I guess you must love new labour - the only nutters out there looking to implement the sin of thought crime in our formerly great nation.

    1984 was meant to be fiction - not a dummies guide.

  49. Paul Hates Handles

    @Estariel

    Seriously, get your head outta wherever it is.

    There's plenty of mainstream books about rape, murder, mutilation etc - and not just in the horror genre. What about the folks who make a living off writing stories about abused children. Just because they're apparently based on true accounts doesn't make them any different from another story about children getting raped.

    I personally think reading a story about mutilation and the possible necrophagia of Girls Aloud would be bloody hilarious. YOU might not find it tittilating but many people do.

    Just like many people find Girls Aloud themselves to be morally and personally objectionable.

  50. Man Outraged
    Flame

    @Dennis

    Dennis are you illiterate or simply unable to draw the correct conclusions from a rather basic logic construct.

    I said the statute books are now littered with many more crud laws LIKE the OPA.

    That sentence doesn't imply that the OPA is a Neu LieBore creation. It just states that the lefties have done nothing to help clean up the statute books. There's now many more dubious offences littered with subjective tests, there's more overlap, and much more oversight of our private lives.

    Think before criticising.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Re: job loss

    Bringing the civil service into disrepute is a good old catch all for such things - I'd be suprised if he manages to get his job back or compensation

    lesson - make sure you never use your real name when posting such things

  52. Peter H. Coffin

    @Code Monkey

    I'm not sure how worthwhile this "clarification of law" has been, since the money, press, time and attention seems to have resulted in "The clarification brought by the 1976 case still stands." Not exactly a precedent-setter, much less a precedent-shatterer.

  53. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Pint

    I have a problem with the assumptions in these comments...

    "...it focussed on the rape, mutilation and murder of the popular group Girls Aloud for – presumably – purposes of sexual arousal..."

    Has no one stopped to consider that maybe the purpose was that of maintaining good taste in modern music?

  54. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    WTF?

    Daily Star! Wonderful rag!

    Hmmm, they're such a bastion of family values and moraility!

    Wasn't it the editor of the Daily Star who was at one point published a picture of topless 16 year old girl, on her 16th birthday?

    Hmm, just the sort of people you need looking after our interests, keeping things fun. clean and wholesome!

  55. mmiied
    Thumb Up

    @Estariel

    "ts not quite "fiction" when it's about real people.

    Try this.....edit the story text to use the real names of your mother, daughter, lover or wife, instead of the Girls Aloud.

    Now re-read it. Still feel the same way?

    Circulate the new version to your family and friends......it's not illegal, so that should be ok, right?""

    no it is still fiction it is just fiction about real pepol and how I feel about it is neather hear or there the law should not be about how pwpol feel it is just the facts and the fact is it is not illegal and nor should it be if I did not want to read it I do not go looking for it just like I do not watch horror films like saw even when images fro them are plastered all over the lcoal busses

  56. Oliver 7
    WTF?

    IANAL

    Some points in this story are unclear. IANAL (no Freudian sniggers!) so maybe someone can explicate:

    Did he post the story under his own name or by pseudonym, in which case his identity required to be uncovered? Perhaps this makes no legal difference but one can clearly imagine the content of the other stories published on this site, yet only conjecture at who employs the authors. If it were the fact that he was exposed as a result of being singled out for prosecution, which led to him losing his job, this now seems unfair given the lack of a conviction.

    Also i note that the site he used to publish his story was based in the US. The US are currently trying to extradite Gary McKinnon on the basis that his crimes took place on foreign soil. Does this not hold true in this case also? Likewise if, as a UK resident, I were to write a book considered obscene here but to (physically) publish it in, say, Sweden, where it was not illegal, how can this be prosecuted in the UK? What's the difference in this case?

    I have no interest in this kind of depravity (other kinds perhaps ;-) but this man has not committed a crime, so I suspect he may have good grounds for an employment tribunal. Regarding the prosecution, such actions are verging on 'thought police' territory and have rightly been recognised as dangerous ground by the courts. Quite why the police are taking their cue from the Daily Star, I don't know, but the government is merely stoking the embers of such debates with its new legislation!

  57. Mark Greenwood
    Badgers

    F-I-C-T-I-O-N

    @Estariel...

    Do you write for the Daily Mail? I take it you haven't read the story, so I'm confused as to why you're so upset about it. Do you know the author personally? Are you so sure of what his motives were that you feel qualified to judge him? I read novels on a weekly basis and some of them contain scenes of rape, torture, murder, prostitution, and other things which you no doubt would regard as prurient filth of the highest order. I just regard it as fiction. Look the word up, you might learn something.

    This particular story, based on the description given here, bears more than a passing resemblance to a plotline in a novel I recently finished, in which a girl group is kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in quite foul ways. It was pretty horrifying, but then, that was the idea. Fiction, you see... F-I-C-T-I-O-N. I won't tell you which novel or who it was by because I rather like the guy and I don't want to set a bunch of twats like you on his case.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Estariel

    Yes it is, it's still fiction, however seen as they are not famous or in the public eye I would be curious to know why someone knew my mother/sister/brother/etc and felt a need to write such material and it may worry me depending upon who it was, what they'd done with the writing, what the situation was - that though would be a complicated personal situation. However once you become famous you're no longer a person you're a character, Girls Aloud are no different to Buffy and Co except they happen to use their real names and pretend that they really are the characters they put forward.

    Girls aloud (and any other celebs for that matter) provide ready packaged characters that people will recognise and can reference. It's quite lazy to be honest but it can be good for flushing the brain or getting quick recognition from a precreated fanbase.

    Infact I have written particularly violent stories about people I've known (when I was back at school) sometimes you change names, but the writer knows who they're talking about.

    I have also written fanfiction about members of a pop band, where one nearly gets raped and there is a heavy girl love tone to the story. Mmm repost http://strawberry-crush.co.uk/blog5.php/2009/06/29/an-old-fanfic#more70 it never got redrafted becouse it wasn't needed for the doujinshi it was going into origonally.

    People need to be able to write about things in their lives, I'm sure a number of people write about people they really know in personal diaries and on scraps of paper.

  59. Paul Hates Handles

    @Estariel

    If I put the names of my family in... it'll make the story more personally horrifying but I still wouldn't send someone to jail for it.

    If some sick fuck wants to write about spitroasting my mum with the Incredible Hulk while eating the arsehole of my cat (who has been dead for nearly 10 years) they're just a sick fuck. It doesn't mean the thought police should punish him for it. It's like the job of the flame war has been replaced by law...

  60. Psymon
    FAIL

    @Estariel

    Get a grip, for your own sake and the safety of others

    It was not "rape, mutilation and murder", it was a work of fiction, and as such caused no physical harm to any living person.

    Are you genuinely stating that you cannot tell the difference between reality and fiction?

    Because that would one of the first symptoms of a scociopath, a group of individuals from which we do need protecting.

    I regularly gest about grinding up Britany Spears and feeding her to the pigs for her crimes against music as a means of expressing my deep disgust at her vile, bland aural excretions.

    I shouldn't have to point out, but for your sake I will, that this does not automatically turn me into Sweeney Todd.

    Being unable to differenciate between fantasy and reality on the other hand...

    Unfortunately there are those out there who suffer such deep weaknesses in their character that they are unable to brush off such trivial matters, and feel compelled to foist their mental issues onto the rest of the world.

    Just as the insane rants of Mary Whitehouse did, your over the top reaction causes me to suspect that there is something underlying this knee-jerk that may require profesional assistance or counselling.

    Thankfully the dismissal of this case is a much welcomed win for the sane.

  61. Jimbo 6

    @ AC (13:36 GMT)

    "Have any of you ever watched a gory slasher film? 18+ cert?

    Did you want to lynch the director for making it, or did you enjoy it for what it was. A bit of fun."

    Yes, I once sat through about half of 'Hostel'. I certainly wanted to lynch the director for that one. He wasted an hour of my life.

    But seriously folks...

    Horror is, by definition, meant to be horrific. It's not meant to be 'fun'. If you get a boner out of murder/rape/mutilation, you need to seek professional help.

  62. Aitor 1
    Thumb Down

    asstr

    The site contains many types of sexual stories.. some are disgusting, some are not.

    They are all clasified, using "content codes".

    And of course, it all originated in newsgroups, but right now it is a web/ftp site.

    Is this author depraved? of course. Did I like the story: not a bit, I just started to read it, out of curiosity, and I really don't like it...

    Has he commited a crime? Of course not!! and this should be the point. Not if we like or dislike what he writes, just get to this point.

    So just call the thought police ;)

  63. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Vocal Minorities

    @AC 4

    No, that only covers the written form, as soon as you start enacting it in playmobile, or even with pen and ink drawings, a whole new world of legal cobblers comes into effect.

    So... IWF, previously noted for trying to shut down wikipedia for having exactly the same CD cover on their page as almost every CD sales website in the world. I'm not sure with who's authority they act as our moral guardians, but hey, there they are, didn't like the look of it, and a mere "We don't like the look of this, and we've got an official sounding title" was enough to get the Met's interest.

    Unless the IWF can back up their allegation that the material was easily findable by a vulnerable person using an innocent search string then I'd like to see them charges with malicious complaint, or at the very least wasting police time.

    Of course the IWF were called in by the Star. I can't imagine the police taking a complaint from the Star of "This person's writing sick stuff about girls aloud" seriously. but why the IWF?

    Anyway, I'm off to write snuff fantasy about the IWF, see you later.

  64. Fred 6
    Stop

    Did the IWF block this site?

    You say that the site was reported to the IWF, you say that the cops believe(d) that the site was illegal... so did the IWF add it to the block list and, if not, why not? Seems like an important aspect of this story.

  65. call me scruffy
    Flame

    Strawmen straffing from 3'oclock high sir!

    The comments about "what if these were your loved ones he was writing about" are priceless.

    As members of "Girls Aloud" the girls are media figures, very nearly fictional characters. It's unpleasant but when you go out seeking attention, some of that attention will be negative. Talking about killing posh spice? Bring it on, Talk about killing Victoria Beckham, wife and mother of two, No. The latter would be more in line with threatening behaviour, conspiracy and a whole raft of other offences the met and CPS could have drawn upon.

    @Deckchair,

    "Once he was charged and it became apparent he was guilty of publishing his filth online his

    employer will have had no choice but to fire him. That sort of mentality is not conducive with most office environments. Again bear in mind it wasn't found that he didn't do it, only that it wasn't really illegal."

    Utter crap. I've worked with gay men who want to stick their willies into mens bottoms, (Can you believe that, how sick and twisted is that!) I don't much like that thought, and I wouldn't want to be involved in it, but so long as they leave me out of it, it's none of my business.

    There's a lot of perfectly legal to own porn out there that is exceptionally mysogynistic, gang bangs, S&M, does merely owning such material mark a man out as "seeing all women as brainless,will-less chatels and sex objects"? No. If on the other hand the guy was watching it in the office during his lunch break, then, well he's screwed the pooch.

    If the first that the employer knew of his "tastes" was that he'd been arrested, then It's fare to say that he'd taken reasonable steps to keep it out of the workplace.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ John Ozimek

    Great reporting, as always John. Good news to see this idiot law slapped down at the first attempt to enforce it.

    Thanks also for your continued coverage of the Jim Bates story (which isn't over yet)).

    If Private Eye had an ounce of fair-mindedness left you'd be up for a Paul Foot award for the way you cover these tricky subjects for The Reg - I honestly think you must be one of the last journalists left with enough backbone and integrity to call these morons out on their lunacy. Keep it up!

  67. dave lawless
    Grenade

    Your mother

    @mmiied

    Kill You lyrics

    [Eminem]

    They said I can't rap about bein broke no more

    They ain't say I can't rap about coke no more

    Slut, you think I won't choke no whore

    til the vocal cords don't work in her throat no more?!

    These motherfuckers are thinkin I'm playin

    Thinkin I'm sayin the shit cause I'm thinkin it just to be sayin it

    Put your hands down bitch, I ain't gon' shoot you

    I'ma pull +YOU+ to this bullet, and put it through you

    Shut up slut, you're causin too much chaos

    Just bend over and take it like a slut, okay Ma?

    "Oh, now he's raping his own mother, abusing a whore,

    snorting coke, and we gave him the Rolling Stone cover?"

    You god damn right BITCH, and now it's too late

    I'm triple platinum and tragedies happen in two states

    I invented violence, you vile venomous volatile bitches

    vain Vicadin, vrinnn Vrinnn, VRINNN! [*chainsaw revs up*]

    Texas Chainsaw, left his brains all

    danglin from his neck, while his head barely hangs on

    Blood, guts, guns, cuts

    Knives, lives, wives, nuns, sluts

    And you other fools, how do you think the staff at Vintage Books feel when Bret Easton Ellis turns up, do they think he is going to rape and murder them?

  68. Jess

    It sould be illegal,

    not for the content but for using real people without their permission.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Daily Star: upholders of free speech

    The irony, the upholders of free speech.. the Daily Star, who no doubt considered the story so disgusting, that they withheld it.

  70. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Its all

    getting a bit Monty Python in this country

    <knight> how do you know she is a witch?

    <mob> well she looks like one

    Which is rather the case with the results of this case and indeed any case where you get the so called 'moral guardians' of the press (dont turn to page 3 or look in the back for the 0898 porno chat lines) involved.

    Far as they are concerned it seems we know have 3 verdicts for any case involving the internet and pornography

    1. not guilty

    2. not proven

    3 guilty

    But since the defendent was accussed of a crime , the police must have enough evidence to charge him therefore he must be guilty even if either of verdicts 1 or 2 came in.

    Its a sad state of affairs now where accusation has the status of proof and gets you fired

    BB... because what thoughtcrime have you committed today?

  71. nsld
    Black Helicopters

    Your either guilty or........................

    In the UK your either guilty now or guilty in the future, there is no state of "innocence" for any of us.

    Thats how the law works.

    Just look at Wackys underling saying that DNA needs to be held forever so that people caught but not prosecuted are easier to catch as "research shows that the innocent reoffend within 6 years"

    What a waste of money bringing a prosecution for writing a story (and a bad one at that) and waiting till the day of the trial to offer no evidence (typical CPS, they could and should have discontinued this at the very beginning)

    Black helicopters all round

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jimbo 6

    Actually - Some studies show that rape is a relatevly widely held fantasy, and due to the nature of the subject you can guess the numbers may be even higher then the studies show becouse alot of people wouldn't admit to it.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_1_45/ai_n24383385/

    Summary

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_1_45/ai_n24383385/pg_14/

  73. Pablo
    Paris Hilton

    About "offering no evidence."

    Could someone explain, for a dumb yank, what the fine points of this practice are? I gather that it basically means they conced the case, but I'm unclear on the is result and why they would do it. Does this make him officially "not guilty" or is it more like a mistrial? And is this a regular occurrence or something that only happens in crazy cases like this? I've never heard it put that way for a US trial, so I'm guessing it must be handled a little differently here. Perhaps the equivalent would be for the prosecutor to "drop charges", can they not do that in the UK?

  74. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    Another day at the 'Star

    1) Get in

    2) Get coffee

    3)Start browser

    4)Access www.asstr.org for FTP

    5)Download yesterdays story submissions

    6)Check against usual list of celebrities

    7) Read anything juicy

    8) Write "Why oh why oh why oh why oh why can't we stop the rise of this evil filth" article (using the standard Office template to save a bit of time).

    9) Run it by the Editor. If he likes it expect bonus in monthly pay packet.

    10) Tell the IWF what you have found shocked and disgusted....could not believe such filth existed...

    11) Home time.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    He didn't JUST lose his job

    He also got posted to the secret sh1t list and won't be hired by anyone now. They don't give a dibble that charges are dropped; they have ruined his life.

  76. adrianww

    @Pablo

    I'm not a lawyer, but I reckon that "offering no evidence" in the UK is probably the closest equivalent you'll find to dropping the charges in a US court. It's basically the prosecution saying "Hey guys, we don't really want to go any further with this, so we're not going to say anything, present any evidence to the court, call any witnesses, etc." From the point of view of the end result, it's exactly the same as being found Not Guilty.

    The prosecution can either offer no evidence on an entire case, or if someone is accused of more than one offence, the prosecution may go ahead with the trial on some of the charges, but offer no evidence on the others. The latter situation is quite common if someone is accused of several offences where some of them are much more serious than others.

    Having said all of that, I suppose a defining point about a "no evidence" submission is that - strictly speaking - it can only happen in court on the day of the trial. It is, essentially, the prosecution dropping the charges at the very last minute - actually in the court room at the beginning of the trial itself. In other cases, charges may be dropped long before they come to court, when it is usually just said that the prosecution is "not proceeding".

    Back on the subject of the article itself, while I might not have any desire to read nasty stories about Girls Aloud (and I also have no desire to hear the atrocious, over-produced caterwauling that they generate and try to pass off as music) I am rather glad that legal sense has prevailed and the CPS has effectively decided to drop this one. It was a stupid case to bring in the first place and the less said about the nanny-stating poltroons and gutter-press numpties who stirred it all up in the first place the better.

  77. Armus Squelprom
    Badgers

    The Estariel Haters....

    I'm glad that this chap's right to create sleazy, misogynist, brutal pornography has been upheld, because that's unavoidably relevant to a whole load of other civil rights which I treasure.

    But let's not kid ourselves - this isn't Lady Chatterley's Lover, American Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre - there's no shred of literary or creative merit to redeem Darryn Walker's vile, jealous filth.

    His employer is wholly entitled to conclude that this behaviour has brought them into gross disrepute, and to act accordingly within the law. That's an important freedom too, and I'm sure we all support them in exercising it as they see fit.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is an outrage!

    I'm going to report www.dailystar.co.uk to the IWF for their offensive "MyStar" icon (top right) which appears to be Windows messenger-esque people with added mullet and breasts. Oh and all the smut.

  79. Martin 6 Silver badge

    @Pablo

    The main difference in the UK is that because it is a free country, the prosecution dropped the charges, he is innocent, and so his DNA will only be held for 10years because he is innocent of a serious crime.

    It will also show up if he ever tries to work in public service or near children or in the voluntary sector.

  80. Mark .

    Re: Did the IWF block this site? / etc

    @Fred 6 : No, they didn't. They only block "suspected child porn" (and Wikipedia articles). For everything else (including "extreme" porn, which is also now illegal to possess), their involvement is just to report it to the police, if it's either hosted in the UK, or posted by a UK citizen.

    @Armus Squelprom: We're discussing his right to his liberty. If you read the article, you'll see that the trial wasn't about whether he can write porn (which he's already done), it was whether he'd go to prison (the maximum sentence being 3 years, and it's now been raised 5).

    The "right to have porn" argument is something I repeatedly hear with respect to laws like the OPA, or the "extreme" porn law, but it is flawed. These laws are not about the Government providing people with porn. It's not that the policemen will come around, tell you not to possess or write that, and then leave it at that. It's about whether people have a right to their *freedom*, or whether they should be placed in prison, simply for writing or possessing something you find distasteful - even though you'd never have seen the material if it wasn't for these laws!

    "there's no shred of literary or creative merit to redeem Darryn Walker's vile, jealous filth"

    So now the law should concern itself with whether things have artistic merit? By that argument, we'd better prosecute the Daily Star...

    @Estariel: There is perhaps some argument for a law against writing about identified people without their consent.

    But the OPA is no such law. It would apply to fiction about non-identified people, yet meanwhile, non-obscene but still unpleasant fiction about an identified person would remain legal.

    "Circulate the new version to your family and friends......it's not illegal, so that should be ok, right?"

    I would choose not to do that, but that's my choice. If someone else did it on some random bit of the Internet, I wouldn't give a damn. If I was in the public eye, I would have even less right to care - after all, fame is what brings celebrities their fortune, and as always, it's a double-edged sword. And if the story was generating publicity for a commercial product that I was part of, if anything I would be glad of the extra sales.

    And actually, I might write a kinky story and show it to my lover. Since I'm a submissive, it'd be about me. But that's my choice, and it's not up to you, or the law, to take that away.

  81. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    @Armus Squelprom

    > there's no shred of literary or creative merit to redeem Darryn Walker's vile, jealous filth.

    Sorry, have you *READ* the Daily Star recently...?

    > His employer is wholly entitled to conclude that this behaviour has brought them into gross disrepute

    Why? WTF has this to do with them if he didn't write it on work time or use work computers? This is the same sort of nonsense that has teachers being sacked because they go to Fetish Clubs even though they would never mention it to the children they teach.

    You, like Estariel, seem to think that hearsay, gossip and "the court of public opinion" are more important than someone's right to freedom of expression and their right to the presumption of innocence.

    Would you like to apply for the job of Home Secretary?

  82. John Stirling

    I disagree with your shit story

    But I will stand up for your right to write it.

    [sic]

  83. PT
    Badgers

    @ Pablo

    It's not the same as dropping the charges. If they just drop the charges or the prosecution decides not to go for trial, the case isn't resolved. There's always the possibility that new evidence may show up, or the DA will worry about being called soft on crime, and the case can be prosecuted at some later date. But when the court is convened and the prosecution offers no evidence, it's over and done with. The accused is declared not guilty and any attempt to go after him again would be dismissed as double jeopardy. It's the same as if you elect to go to (US) court for a speeding ticket and the cop doesn't show up, only more formal.

    Badgers, because I want to use one of the new icons. No other reason.

  84. Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield
    Thumb Up

    Time for bed

    The OPA is arcane, dependant on no evidential base and is contrary to the ECoHR.

    Never mind the legal niceties of this farcical case, it needs abolishing, without delay.

    Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Heh

    Isen´t it wonderfull to live in a country where you actually have cases like this... *points finger at UK* HAHAHAHAHA

    You fail as a country

  86. Des
    Paris Hilton

    I'm starting a list

    I'm concerned that my children might become exposed to these dangerous stories so I'm starting a list of books that are not suitable (and presumably illegal)...

    1. Little Red Riding Hood - people getting eaten, attempts to lure a child into a situation where she is in mortal ldanger, etc.

    2. Sleeping Beauty - attempted poisoning

    3. Hansel and Gretel - cannibalism

    4. Peter Pan - various attempts at murder and kidnapping

    The list could go on... :O

    Paris: Because even she knows fiction

  87. Des
    Big Brother

    Double jeopardy my arse!

    In case you missed it the law on double jeopardy has been changed http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4406129.stm so now you CAN be charged twice for the same crime! :O

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Re: Bootnote

    It sure as heck is not hard to find now - the first result on Google found it on Digg. As someone else said, the case has actualy made it very easy to find the 'offending item'. An own goal by the 'Dear Leader' and his cohorts in Westminster?

  89. Coruscating Frenzy

    Disrepute

    With reference to the loss of his job ... the success or failure of a prosecution is immaterial. In the UK civil servants have to abide by a Civil Service disciplinary code which covers terms related to bringing the service into disrepute. Whether the written outpourings of his fevered mind constitutes an offence is a matter for the courts. The public association of those outpourings with the Civil Service is a disciplinary matter for his employers. There is no dispute about the authorship of the text, and the association to his employers is made plain even in the article under discussion: "their case against Civil Servant Darryn Walker". Therefore he has pretty obviously brought the Civil Service into disrepute in a massively public way.

  90. Mark .

    Re: Disrepute

    But it wasn't the story itself that (*allegedly*) brought them into "disrepute", it was the publicity of the trial. And you could make the same claim about all sorts of trials.

    It seems rather bad if someone can be sacked as a result of trials, even if they are found not guilty.

  91. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    @Coruscating Frenzy

    So, let me see if I've got this right.

    Someone has not committed a crime, they have been acquitted in Court of any offence, yet they should *still* be sacked for exercising their legal right to freedom of expression simply because you (or some po-faced idiot in the CIvil Service) don't like what they wrote?

    In other words "you have the freedom to write what *we* like..."

  92. Nick B (Zeus)
    Unhappy

    @Coruscating Frenzy

    That's it exactly, and when he signed his contract of employment he agreed to it. He did not have to.

  93. Armus Squelprom

    @ Graham Marsden

    Yeah, I've read the Daily Star and I hold it in similar contempt to Darryn Walker's story. They have the freedom to write that crap, and I have the freedom to regard them with scorn & disgust. So does any organisation or employer which may do business with them.

    You complain that people can "be sacked for exercising their legal right to freedom of expression" as if this is somehow unusual. The public (or the shareholders) are entitled to expect that staff do not embarrass their employer by their behaviour, it's a perfectly normal condition of employment on this planet and has been for centuries.

  94. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    A note on bought into disrepute

    Well I believe he did not sign the piece submitted. Only the IWF or some other moral police with the relevant powers could have found that out.

    He certainly would not have mentioned he was a civil servant.

    So untill the Daily Star whined about this to the IWF (and note the site is not in the UK) it would have been a throw away "Girls Alound in Snuff Porn Shocker" headline.

    The CS *might* have a case if its in his T&C. But does this apply *outside* of office hours? of course if he wrote, posted or viewed this stuff *in* office time (on office PCs) he's definitely in trouble.

    And of course if his job dealt with anything like this IRL even peripherally things could get pretty complicated. The UK Civil Service is *big*. Some bits might find such activities wholly unacceptable. Other parts would hardly care (except for the publicity).

    I seem to recall UK CS's can and are allowed to be members of political parties (although being in the BNP seems to cause trouble). Note Police offices in the UK are *not* civil servants and different rules apply.

    What a complete shambles. All this time, talk and cost for what?

    Just my tuppence.

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