back to article Conviction overturned for abuse images bought from bookshop

A London judge has dismissed child pornography charges brought against a man who was prosecuted for possessing books bought from a bookshop. The judge said if the Crown Prosecution Service really believed these books contained "Level One" images of child sexual abuse then it should take action against publishers or retailers …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you, your honour.

    A very sensible decision. A slightly creepy case, but the rule of law is served.

    CPS, seriously, what were you thinking?!?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      What's slightly creepy about this case?

      The Child Pornography Service?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      re: CPS, seriously, what were you thinking

      I expect they thought it would be good for their statistics. I doubt much other thought went into it.

      1. Goat Jam
        Grenade

        Indeed

        So much easier to go after some poor individual who is much more likely to be bullied into submission than try and take on an established business who have access to proper lawyers and stuff.

        "We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws." — Hunter S. Thompson

  2. Alfred 2
    WTF?

    A triumph for common sense?

    But an innocent man's name has been released into the public domain. Will the police give him a new identity and gain an injunction preventing the press from releasing any details about him?

    Oh wait, you have to be CONVICTED of a crime, like murdering a two year old to get that sort of consideration.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Except the charge will still appear on background checks...

      And they'll also appear on any background checks he has done on him, should he ever apply for a job working with children or vulnerable people. Who's gonna hire someone with "CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY" on their record, regardless of whether in tiny letters underneath it mentions the charges were dismissed. Wanted to become a teacher? Or a nurse? Or any one of a hundred other jobs? Tough shit! And don't expect compensation from the government for screwing your life up.

      1. Blue eyed boy
        Unhappy

        In tiny letters immediately underneath it mentions

        "Got off on a technicality."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Except the charge will still appear on background checks...

        Have you ever wondered just how did this come to light anyway?

        I mean, the police don't routinely check what books I have and the content of, so one wonders how he came to be in this predicament and what else he may have done that has led to this - but it was obviously something to warrant such Police attention.

        It strikes me that he was in trouble for something else - probably related in some way, possible even this charge, but the Police struggling to find any evidence on which to convict him resorted to this.

        So, while I accept he's an innocent man and the basis of his charge was stupid, you don't get into this kinda situation without reason.

        So you'll have to excuse me because, lacking any more detailed information on this I'm of the opinion I'd rather edge on the side of caution on this one and I'd prefer he wasn't working with my children. Sorry.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          @AC 11.37

          As both of these books are photography works it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he's a photographer.

          In which case this could all be the result of knowing his rights and therefore upsetting the boys in blue.

          Erring on the side of caution is ok, but when your knowledge comes from the Paedofinder General (authority vested by readers of The Sun and The Daily Mail), then it's not a very good position to start your reasoning.

        2. TheFifth
          Stop

          @AC 11:37

          I think you just summed up the reasons why people's names should be kept from the press unless they are proven guilty.

          You say: "So, while I accept he's an innocent man and the basis of his charge was stupid, you don't get into this kinda situation without reason."

          Just wow. So actually you don't accept he's an innocent man at all. You actually think he's a pedophile who got lucky this time, but his mad kiddie fiddling ways will get him into trouble soon.

          I can think of a myriad ways he could have come to the attention of the police without any wrong doing. Maybe someone with your mindset was in his house and saw a photography book with a picture of a young naked girl on the cover? I'm sure your moral outrage would take you straight to the nearest police station. Maybe he had an argument with a friend who decided to take things to another level, knowing that the current wave of pedageddon sweeping the UK would guarantee him some jail time?

          When I was young my Grandfather was a keen amateur photographer. He had a whole bookcase of photography books. I remember looking through them and spotting a section on portraits that included naked pictures of what obviously was a young, teenaged girl. Now that's a few pictures, on one page of a 200 page book, on a bookcase of maybe 40 photography books. Can you please tell me, by your massive moral compass, was my Grandfather a pedophile? And if he wasn't, why is this guy different? Where exactly do we draw the line?

          You sir (or madam) are an idiot.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC 11.37

            Yes, it could very well be a photographer of landscapes and so forth.

            But my point, which i think you are missing, is, none of the media reports including this one by The Register include any detail to explain why the Police had cause to search his home, or explain why, accordingly to the Telegraph a charge of posession extreme Porn DVD was brought and then dropped.

            So, how exactly do you get yourself into trouble with the Police by being a Photographer to the point they search your home and try to bring first charges of extreme porn and then child porn?

            If the news report said for example, he went to the police to ask for clarification on if the images in his book were legal, then that would give a completely different impression. But, the myriad of ways in which he may otherwise have come to the attention of the police are completely lacking in any article aren't they!

            So, to clarify, I do not think "he is a paedophile", and i think the case brought against him is utterly stupid and accept he is innocent of those charges. But there is not enough - or any - explanation given as to why the hell is got into this mess, which i feel is a bit dodgy, and therefore I'd rather edge on the side of caution until I knew otherwise, if I may.

            You cannot call a parent an idiot for preferring their child not to be in contact with someone with no explanation as to why they have had such charges previously brought against them.

            1. Some Beggar
              FAIL

              Nobody is missing your point. Except perhaps you.

              Your point is classic "no smoke without fire" i.e. an assumption of possible guilt even though he's been found innocent. This is precisely the reason why it is argued that such cases should be anonymous.

              See that thing floating over your head? That's the point.

              And see that thing floating way way above that? That's the irony of you making this argument while posting as an AC.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          Ref: Re: Except the charge will still appear on background checks..

          "....., the police don't routinely check what books I have and the content of, so one wonders how he came to be in this predicament and what else he may have done that has led to this - but it was obviously something to warrant such Police attention."

          A naive view unfortunately, I wish it was true. Here follows a practical example;

          After the hungerford killings, and the clamp down on firearms,lots of press coverage vilifying firearms owners, etc. During this time customs brought to the attention of the police a magazine that was being imported into the country from the US, on the front cover it had a picture of an automatic weapon.

          Now most forces, took the note from the over zealos customs officers and filed it under B1N.

          However West Sussex, sent out officers to all the people recieving this magazine, to question them. Unfortunately for one plod, the person in question was an international journalist, who then proceded to question the police officer, and publish an article on it.

          West Sussex's action obviously had nothing to do with scraping up favourable press coverage for the next senior officer's promotion or budget negoations, or job justification?

          I would suggest you look at the disparity of budget and promotion oportunities between CEOPS and the National Police e-crime Unit, when reviewing anything the police and CPS get up to when there is the possibility of press coverage.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Exactly my f---ing point!

            Because nothing like that has been reported anywhere - you are all resorted to previously reported cases which if was the case in this case I would have no f-ing issue!!!!!

            As it stands, the police upon **** UNKNOWN **** reasons, saw fit to try and charge this man of two types of pornography charge. It's not the fact they did and failed because it was and utterly stupid case they made, it's why they even tried. THAT IS MY POINT!

            Now, missing that information, it's equally possible, that actually, yes he has been up to no good but the Police being halfwits made a complete cockup on the evidence front and resorted to this stupid method of trying convict him. A scenario the police are equally good at doing!

            I personally find it odd that no such scenarios were mentioned as they would certainly be news-worthy.

            And I know for sure that if you put any parent in the position of leaving their child with any person who has had such charges even mentioned against their name without a bloody good (IN THIS CASE COMPLETELY MISSING) explanation of why, they would no way leave their child with him. Christ, there are plenty of people who've done no wrong at all I'd not want my children left with! I can only assume you are obviously not parents!

    2. g e

      His name's already released

      So release the names of the coppers, too....

      1. Marvin the Martian
        Flame

        Name releases

        And release the names of the checkout bunny, and the shelf stacker, as this team of filth purveyors triggered this fiasco!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed

      "If the Crown Prosecution Service wishes to test whether the pictures in the books are indecent, the right way to deal with the matter is by way of prosecuting the publisher or retailer - not the individual purchaser"

      Now if they could only get their heads round applying that to the internet and "possession of images deemed by the government to be of an extreme nature", versus those distributing the filth, we would all, including the children, be safer.

    4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      It is long past time ...

      ... for the identity of people charged with offences to be kept secret unless found guilty, unless there are pressing reasons to do otherwise, a decision that would have to come from the judge (this is already done in some cases, for instance where is might lead to identification of a child in a sexual abuse case). Too much now rides on mere accusation for anonymity not to be the default situation.

  3. irish donkey
    WTF?

    Type it into Google

    and you can read for free.

    Although I guess reading wasn't the issue here. Looks like the police were going for an easy statistic here.

    'Where did you get this book?'

    Waterstones.

    Likely story sunshine. Right where's my rubber gloves

    Possibility that you could fail an eCRB just for a buying a book from waterstones. No smoke without fire and all that....

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Big Brother

      I'd be fascinated....

      ....to know what particular "smoke" brought him to police attention, if he had the books on him and that was used to obtain a search warrant it's probably an illegal search, after the conviction was overtured the CPS believed they still had a case even without the four books but were refused a retrial, after all he was charged with five counts of possessing indecent images of children, does that mean that the DVD was also extreme porn of children?

      The CPS obviously dropped the ball here, they should not have charged him for posessing the books, but the DVD wasn't thrown out, so either justice has been served and an innocent man has been cleared or a guilty man has got away with it, either way it's not a satisfactory situation.

  4. TakeTheSkyRoad
    FAIL

    Title thingie

    Ok so if amazon shows previews of the photos or has this as a digial version for download then they are a potential carrier of child porn ? There's no way I'm opening amazon to check of course... I feel big brother watching....

    Seriously though I feel this is a trust issue.... when purchasing something from a major retailer you TRUST that they do not carry any illegal content be it child porn or any other subject. You also TRUST that if this falls down then the police understand that you trusted the retailler and they go after them and/or the publisher.

    It seems nobody at any point in the supply chain thought to ask "Look, are we SURE this is ok ?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I also TRUST

      the plod and cps to be competent and to have some integrity and the rule of law to be applied evenly and the laws to be sensible. I could go on for a while.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      and you

      don't seem to have asked yourself if there was ANY merit at all in the original prosecution.

      He didn't get away with it cos there was nothing to get away with.

      And bookshops should censor books 'just in case'?

      No.

    3. Pablo

      No, I think they did ask

      And the answer they came up with was this: "Well, we've been selling it for years, surely if there was a problem the police would just kindly tell us to take it off the shelves."

      Is that so unreasonable?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The Age of Innocence by David Hamilton

        And even then, if it was taken off the shelves (somewhere else) would you know? When i was working for Waterstones 10 years ago we got a visit from the police. According to them somebody complained we sold child pornography. Of course we were very surprised, the book they took from us (we never got/asked it back) was..... The Age of Innocence by David Hamilton

  5. Chris Harrison
    Unhappy

    Is that it?

    I wasn't aware that the police randomly visited people and checked out the contents of their bookshelves, so there must be more to this story.

    Perhaps he was caught wacking one out in the park with the books beside him?

    1. gerryg
      Grenade

      Always one...

      Other wild speculations include that he wasn't sufficiently obsequious when plod pulled him over late at night

      http://www.politics.co.uk/news/policing-and-crime/police-complaints-skyrocket-$21387433.htm

      "The most common complaint was about incivility or neglecting duties, with nearly 50% of all allegations regarding officers being rude or late"

      Other trite ripostes include: try reading this

      http://original.antiwar.com/robert-koehler/2010/10/15/then-they-came-for-me/

    2. Anonymous John

      Re Is that it?

      Perhaps he took the book round to PC World and showed it to the Tech Guys.

    3. /\/\j17

      Yes, that probably is it.

      "I wasn't aware that the police randomly visited people and checked out the contents of their bookshelves, so there must be more to this story."

      Yes, they probably raided his house for some other reason and, finding no evidence of that crime they started to look for something, ANYTHING to charge him with so they didn't look like the complete twonks they are.

      1. Iain 14
        Thumb Down

        Goiong back to the original trial...

        The Telegraph report on this doesn't entirely clear things up, but it does shed a little more light on the matter.

        It's not clear why the police were searching his home in the first place, but in addition to the books, they found 'an "extreme" pornographic DVD'. I' m guessing that DVD was the main reason for prosecuting, however Mr Neal was cleared of that particular charge "on the trial judge's direction".

        The trial still continued on the book allegations, though, but the appeal judge has said:

        "Against this background, it is a matter of surprise that charges were brought against this individual in respect of the pictures. It is legitimate to wonder if such charges would have been brought against him but for his prosecution in relation to the DVD".

    4. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Black Helicopters

      Not random

      Didn't you read the article. They are books of PHOTOGRAPHS.

      Probably the guy owns a camera, and the police noticed him taking photos of the seagulls at the end of his street and suspected him of being a terrorist. (If you think that doesn't happen read Amateur photographer).

      After that, they probably pulled his house apart (looking for anything they could get him on, or at least really messing up his life).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        You don't know the half of it

        "After that, they probably pulled his house apart (looking for anything they could get him on, or at least really messing up his life)."

        Last year I suffered from this treatment. I had a student lodger with whom I had a difference of agreement. She moved out but 1 week later made serious allegations of sexual misconduct against me. I was arrested very early on a Saturday morning on the say so of the student with no corroborating evidence. I was handcuffed in cells for most of the day, during which, unknown to me, the Police ransacked my house looking for evidence.

        What did they find? a humorous post card, showing a nude bather, sent to me, by my daughter, in 1985 and a note of effusive thanks written to me by two previous female lodgers from the previous year expressing their love to me. This did not stop the Police impounding all my IT and photographic gear, the contents of 3 filing cabinets which held my business records amd much other personal memorabilia.

        Late on Saturday I was subjected to an intensive 4 hour interrogation by 2 detectives whose approach could only be described as "You are presumed guilty until we can prove you are guilty, even if we have to 'sex up the dossier' or manufacture new evidence if none can be found".

        Fortunately I had a capable lawyer to represent me and my other resident lodger - also female - gave a very positive record of my observed behaviour over the previous 1.5 years. The Police decided not to proceed with formally charging me, and warned me that my case would be kept on file - including my DNA - for further investigation at any time in the future. I was warned not to do again what it had not been proved I had done in the past.

        The impact on my life has been horrendous. Think for a moment how the loss of ALL of your computers and media, all your other IT & photographic kit would affect your life.

        Think what effect the presence of 2 police vans and 3 police cars outside your house for a whole day, with officers trooping out carrying armfuls of evidence bags, has on your reputation with your neighbours and the likelihood that you can continue to hold posts on various committees or continue your voluntary work

        Think about how CRB checks will affect your future employment prospects or the risk of future false allegations.

        Think about the risk of wrongful use of DNA and the fact that DNA tagging is not foolproof.

        Now compare that to the compensation you are likely to be offered by the Police/Government. Not a balance that seems to meet the criteria of 'natural human justice' is it? Not what you expect from a civilised society is it?

        Who got our country into this mess?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Sue the bitch

          Any chance you can sue the bitch for damage to your reputation? Even if it costs you the earth to do so, it would be worth it to discourage this sort of abuse of the system by others -- benefitting the REAL victims of abuse whose fight for justice is seriously damaged by idiots who bring baseless accusations solely for purposes of revenge.

        2. El

          Turn about is fair play

          So sue the bitch for filing a false police report!

          1. A J Stiles

            Sue, schmue

            Making a false allegation should be a criminal offence (actually, it probably is). And making a false allegation *of a sexual offence* should be treated as a sexual offence (including being put on that register); because when all things are said and done, a false allegation of rape does not cause the victim and their nearest and dearest one iota less harm than actually being raped would.

        3. Mark 65

          IT confiscation

          Given you weren't charged, what are the rules on the obnoxious power-tripping f*ckheads giving back what isn't theirs and clearly isn't evidence?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          This happened to me

          Someone who doesnt like my family twice made false allegations against me. Not only was I arrested, but they tried to arrange for me to be arrested at work in front of the maximum number of witness's; why else call me into work when I was on holiday??

          As above, absolutely no evidence against me, but they will not say I didnt do it, only that they "do not have enough evidence to proceed".

          Nearly 7 months to get my computers back and no reply to my complaint about missing items; I will put a reminder in when I make a claim for the damaged computer case and the broken hard drive, but I wont hold my breath.

          And still no answer about why they felt the needed to take and keep my car keys.

          The Police are wankers, do not co-operate with them, no matter how innocent you are. Even a FOI demand to see what the accusation was has resulted in a sheet of paper with everything blanked out.

    5. Chris Harrison
      Unhappy

      so many thumbs down?

      GuessI'll have to have my sarcasm meter adjusted.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Level One" images of child sexual abuse?

    Looks more like art to me.

    My parents have a picture of me when I was a baby sitting naked on a toy horse.

    I have now phoned the police and will get them locked up as they are obviously monster pedos and should be on a register or something like that.

    1. Maty

      If you fancy life on the edge ...

      Look at Caravaggio's 'Love Triumphant'.

      It's been considered a great work of art for hundreds of years. By today's standards, just viewing the pic over the internet should be good for about three years at Her Majesty's pleasure.

      Of course, we could go back and retrofit all such pictures with fig leaves. It's a tried and trusted technique.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Shakje
          Happy

          So how many people here

          watched that BBC documentary about the fig leaf? Seems that the sentiments are in part influenced by it

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. EddieD

    Hmm.

    When I started typing this comment, I was going to blow steam about wastes of money, don't the police have better things to do...

    And then I realised that for some reason I was surprised when a terribly poorly drafted piece of legislation, with more loopholes than a drift net, where the actual parameters of the offence are written in nebulous prose, and any attempt to clarify the law with the legislature and judiciary is met with no response, causes the already overstretched courts to have to deal with non-crimes, and have caused an innocent person to be given the stigma of paedophilia.

  8. Ally J
    WTF?

    Beyond belief

    Our glorious 'extreme pornography' bill has exclusions for works of art and BBFC-rated films. If the CPS are prepared to prosecute over what someone can buy in Waterstones, does this mean those exceptions are null and void now?

  9. jake Silver badge

    The mind boggles.

    and The Law is an ass ...

    No, I take that back. "Boggles" is the only word for it ...

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Close ... but not quite there.

      The law was proved not to be an ass - this bloke is out, albeit with a reputation tarnished forever. The ass here was the incompetent, target chasing police (again), and the CPS which is filled with people with 2:2 law degrees from the University of Does-that -place-actually-have-a-university? We have allowed those in charge of prosecutions to come from such a low level of education and innate common sense that we, as a population, are no longer safe from those that are supposed to protect us. Fortunately, more judges are stepping up to the challenge, and delivering judgments like this.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    But think of the children!... No, not like that, you filthy beast!

    This sounds like a case of the judiciary making the most sensible decision given the situation. If the CPS don't have the balls to go after the publishers and make a proper & consistent case against the dissemination of this material, they can't expect to be able to go after random individuals who buy it legally in a high-street shop.

    I'm quite glad to hear that at least one judge is taking this view, because as the owner of a whole bunch of Alan Moore comics (which includes Lost Girls) I've been concerned about the ease with which some of the stuff I've bought entirely legally in various UK bookshops could be viewed and treated as child abuse material...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    heh

    And this is why lords are so essential, the rest of the state mechanism is a joke.

    What would those nappy adverts be described as?

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Tron

    The CPS.

    Someone get that quango an internet connection and teach them to use Wikipedia.

    Maybe a degree in law would help too.

    FFS.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CPS

    I suspect that the CPS were trying to test the legal standing of those images on the cheap.

    If they had tried to prosecute the publisher or retailer they would presumably been up against some fairly hefty lawyers. Go after an individual and they would have been up against a much less well funded defence. They presumably thought that having tested the legal positon in a cheap and easy case they could have then gone after the publishers and retailers on a much more solid footing. Even had the conviction not been overturned they would still have had to face the same hefty legal team in defence when they went after the publishers and retailers who would have challenged the original ruling and would still have ended up having a hard fight.

    Stupid CPS and equally stupid police.

  15. Bottle_Cap
    FAIL

    well

    Seems going after this one bloke is much easier than going after a big company which by co-incidence clearly would be able to afford lots of lawyers...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    <title>

    Full marks for the judge who over-turned this conviction, but a big fail to the judge/jury (and possibly his defense lawyer) who convicted him in the first instance. This should never have even reached this stage.

    It is a shame that there is no over sight of the CPS to ensure this level of stupidity doesn't occur before it reaches this point.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    A jury of my peers

    "Quashing Mr Neal's convictions, [Lord Justice Richards] said the trial judge had failed to adequately direct the jury on the correct "objective standards" to be applied when assessing whether the photos were indecent."

    I hope if I am ever unfortunate enough to end up in the dock, that I am in front of a jury who can discern between artistic photography and pornography without needing direction.

    Sadly, after decades of the tabloid Paedoseverywhere™ camaign, I've more chance of finding an honest solicitor.

    1. Pablo

      Objective standards? Who knew?

      I wonder if the jury was allowed to know the books were commercially available. I could easily imagine a prosecutor arguing that was irrelevant and convincing the judge they only needed to see a selection of the "worst" pictures instead of the whole books.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I'm a bit lost for words

    I have just looked up Sally Mann's photographs on Google. I suggest that anyone who says these are child porn be immediately rounded up and locked into a mental institution along with those who drafted the dangerous pictures law and those who voted for it.

    They are the real perverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "They are the real perverts."

      I agree, these images aren't sexual in the slightest.

      Anyone who looks at them and finds them erotic has got some very strange attitudes towards children and sexuality.

  19. Dave Bell

    Not really new, is it.

    It's not that hard to find examples of the UK Police chasing after books by the two photographers named in the article. It's been going on for decades. If their books are on open sale, it would be barely credible that the publisher hadn't checked the legality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Checked the legality?

      The only way the legality can be confirmed one way or the other is in a court of law. The only way to do this is for somebody to bring an action. So the publisher could only take legal advice on the legality, but even if the advice says they are in the clear it carries absolutely no weight in a court.

  20. Ian 3
    Unhappy

    Demands for a retrial?

    So, even when the Judge pointed out how stupid they were, CPS sought a retrial?

    It seems like madness to my poor naive brain that CPS need a conviction to prove material is extreme porn or child abuse, so one poor bugger gets a very nasty criminal record and everyone else (if they are paying attention) can learn from this and dispose of the material. That really sucks. Surely in any sane country there should be a mechanism where the police or CPS or some specific censor agency could go to the courts and get a ruling on the material, rather than needing to prosecute the owners/publishers.

    But then people would know the law, and could sneak and weasel out of prosecution by cowardly not breaking it, and that would never do.

  21. Spanners Silver badge
    Grenade

    Couldn't the ConDems have got rid of the CPS?

    The CPS is a quango that does nothing that was not better done by their predecessors - the police.

    I understand that a major activity of the CPS is annoying the police by not prosecuting the people the police believe merit it.

    The CPS should be abolished as an affront to justice and freedom.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      actually

      its a "non-ministerial government department"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's no-where near as simple as that.

      The police already do a lot of the charging of so-called simple cases. A relative of mine works for the CPS, and she frequently has to "offer no evidence" on cases where the person is probably guilty of a crime - but NOT guilty of the crime that the police chose to charge them with.

      I'm not saying the CPS is faultless - of course it's not. The current discussion is enough evidence of that. But just saying "get rid of them" is no solution either.

      And as for "...a major activity of the CPS is annoying the police by not prosecuting the people the police believe merit it..." well, that statement has some truth in it. There are many times when the police want to prosecute someone, and there is in fact no actual evidence apart from "well, of course he did it, we all know he did". And yes, they do get annoyed about it. But better they get annoyed by the CPS than waste even more public money going to court and having the case thrown out.

  22. david 63

    So the question is...

    ...are the cps going to go after the publishers, or are they total twunts.

    I think I know the answer.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Level One

      According to my local Police, Level One is children in underwear or revealing clothes.

      The David Hamilton books, as mentioned, are fine in Book form, but considered CHILD PORN if you have an image of them on your computer, completely mad.

      If he was in the possession of such a book, then the CPS are also incompetent as the books depict fully nude children, so are probably Level 2 or 3 under our new " Victorian" laws

      (How do I know), there was a story a few years ago about the Rozzers raiding a library and seizing said books, then having to give them back later

      1. Deadly Headshot

        Seizing library books and giving them back?

        I'm surprised they didn't just renew them over the 'phone...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the Met complain....

    of lack money for police officers ,dont cry but laugh out loud as they deserve it fully for wasting so very much taxpayers money. They are FUCKING USELESS and deserve all that they get I assure you. Read thius recent case, which both shows how pathetic and corrupt the whole system is and what a waste of money the IPCC is;

    http://www.bindmans.com/index.php?id=858

    also at http://twitter.com/metpolice

    I cant wait until the Met/Govt goes bankrupt and cannot pay their extortionate pensions.

  25. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Poster At Work

    I'm not sure if it's meant to be humorous, but we have a poster on display in the kitchen area at work saying.....

    "Accidently come across child pornography?"

    Poor choice of words there.

  26. John G Imrie

    Does this mean that I can now

    put my Battle Royal Manga back on the bookshelf?

    Not anonymous so CPS, Bring it on.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @John G Imrie

      "put my Battle Royal Manga back on the bookshelf?"

      Of course not.

      That will come under the even dafter cartoon p()rn law.

      You haven't lived till you've watched a uniform PC work his way through a collector quality Captain Scarlet annual and watch the lips move.

      Very educational.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        Coat

        What do you expect ...

        ... one's a string-puppet, and the other one is the indestructable saviour of humanity from the Mysterons.

        I know ... coat ... door ...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    I see you are adopting the official doctrine...

    ..that possession of images deemed indecent is, in itself, 'child abuse', and that indecent images are 'abuse images', whereas in fact the threshhold for indecency is very low, and though a matter of fact for the court to find and not otherwise defined in law, does not require anyone to be harmed, deceived, or even undressed. The practical test at that bottom end appears to be along the lines of: (1) might someone, anyone, find this sexy? or (2) can the police find an expert to so classify it?

    David Hamilton's kitschy photographic oeuvre was to be found in every public library and book club list in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and there must be hundreds of thousands of copies lying around in British attics. I'm sure all the hundreds of milions of copies of the Sun and Star of that era must already have been burnt, because of the horrible abuse of all those 17-year old page 3 girls who were paid £500 to get their tits out, and who must now be scarred for life by the experience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Sun

      "I'm sure all the hundreds of milions of copies of the Sun and Star of that era must already have been burnt, because of the horrible abuse of all those 17-year old page 3 girls who were paid £500 to get their tits out, and who must now be scarred for life by the experience."

      I believe some were as young as 15 (clothed) or 16 (topless) when first appearing (Sam Fox, Lindsey Dawn, to name two). Think about that the next time The Sun and it's readers get on their high horses over this issue.....

      The 2003 law that made media of 16 and 17 year old's CP, even though well intentioned was a real screw up. The basis is something I agree with, but treating media of 16 and 17 year old's, who you can legally see naked in the flesh, the same as pictures of 1 year old's is the dumbest thing ever. The full weight of that law should really have only been aimed at producers of media involving this age group. To stop sexual exploitation of an age group over the age of consent but under 18. I would not have had a problem if it went as high as 21, but would only punish people making the material for profit, as should have been done for over 16's.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        Remember the Daily Star looking forward to a 16YO's birthday with a countdown

        Till the day she could legally go topless.?*

        *Naturally this was before their purchase by the Express Group. Such behavior now would release *torrents* of moral indignation from the Daily & Sunday Express, who would probably have to show *some* photos to show just *how* appalling this behavior is.

        Disclaimer. Just noticed the story, never bothered buying the rag. No interest in that sort of thing, as obviously I'm not a picture editor at a mass circulation tabloid daily.

  28. Guy Herbert
    Alien

    An exercise for the reader

    Do you think the same man would have got off the charge if he had downloaded from the internet exactly the same images that appeared in the books concerned?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Depends..

      If he downloaded the books in their entirety, then it should be no different to having the physical book. If he only downloaded the pictures with the children in them, that maybe a bit more difficult to defend. But that does not mean definitely guilty either. Especially if they have found nothing else incriminating as in this case.

      1. Guy Herbert
        Big Brother

        Re: Depends

        Which is sort of the point of the question/thought experiment. It suggests what's being prosecuted here is thoughtcrime: not the act but the imputed motive. Or/and perhaps the social status of the accused.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        David Hamilton

        As I understand it, David Hamilton is a photographer and his books are 90-95% photos with small amounts of text embedded in some of the photos.

        At least that is what I remember from glancing at one of his books many years ago.

  29. John Savard Silver badge

    Thomas Mann

    I remember that a couple were charged in the United States for renting a copy of The Tin Drum from a video store. The police wanted a test case against people who couldn't afford a lot of lawyers to establish a precedent. I don't know what came of it, but I do know that in the United States, the judge can't just tell the police to go away and charge the video rental chain instead (the legal basis of the defence here doesn't exist there) - which is a pity.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appeal

    People here have complemented the judge and the legal system for stopping the bad CPS for taking the mick. But I am more worried that this was an appeal hearing, meaning the legal system initially found him guilty. That is the most worrying thing to me.

    This should have been an a quick dismissal with the same comments that this judge made. But it seems that another judge or jury, was quite happy to let this case go all the way to a guilty finding. That to me is very scary....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So much for the victims...

      Replying to my own post here, but after having a bit more time to think about this case it makes me even madder than I was before.

      In this case, if the images were judged to be CP, then why is it even the bookseller or publisher in the dock. Unlike most cases we know who created said abuse pictures, as the authored the books. Why are the photograph takers not in the docks. I understand that they may well be outside the country, but I see nothing to say that the supposed original abusers are having their collars felt. This again just goes to show how our system works. We don't seem to bother with the original abusers, but go after someone who is completely removed from the supposed original abuse and therefore doing nothing to combat the actual source.

      I sure I am not making myself 100% clear. But if given the choice I would easily take getting all the original abusers in jail even if it meant that some of the products of the abuse still get to be used by people who had nothing to do with the abuse.

      But our justice system does not seem to have the same set of priorities and seems to be more interested in people long removed from the original abuse and victim. So all the bleeding hearts going on all the time about needing these laws to protect the victims of abuse, like the ones all over the airwaves last week over the sex offenders register appeals, are talking out of their backsides and are doing nothing for victims.

      And that is what makes me most angry. If through some of these abuses of legality / natural justice we were getting the real animals that carry out abuse, then I might turn a blind eye. But no we have both abuses to our rights, but still are not doing a good job of getting the real monsters and protecting the innocent.

      Really this is the closest I have gotten to writing my MP, but I just cannot get over the fact that I will be recording my name and address against comments that will be perceived as supporting people who abuse children, which could not be further from the truth. The issue is now so toxic, that people cannot see the forest for the trees.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Ph0bos

          I understand your frustration. It is not a good feeling when you start to examine this pernicious law, and realise that there is neither rhyme nor reason to it, unless you start treading into ground that makes you wonder if you are paranoid (since it seems that this law is there merely to ensure that almost anyone can be prosecuted for something at any time).

          This law, along with the Sexual Offences Act 2003, needs seriously overhauling, and cutting back, and very, very soon.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And again

        Sorry, replying to myself again. The above post where I said that obviously the original photograph takers have not had trouble. This can be seen by the fact the books are still on sale. I am assuming they were left on sale even after the guilty verdict.

        Did we get to the stage were anyone picking the book up in the bookshop and taking a quick flick would have cuffs slapped on instantly by a policeman standing next to the bookshelf just waiting?

        This is not the way to run a justice system...

  31. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Publishers

    Are the police going to go up against a publisher probably owned by Murdoch?

    Or a bookstore with a bunch of expensive lawyers making points about Nazi book burnings.

    But getting a prosecution against a 'peado' with a jury should be easy.

    Expect to see a lot more of this tactic. You don't want to put a Guardian or BBC journalist in court - instead you pick some loser blogger who is going to look bad to a jury - get a conviction and then have case law that the BBC / Guardian aren't allowed to report say police expenses

    1. Pablo

      Is there an ECLU?

      Countering that strategy is basically why the ACLU was formed: to defend "losers" (even famously NAMBLA) when the case could set a precedent too important to leave up to loser-level-lawyers.

      I wonder if the UK or Europe has any similar organization.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        re: ECLU

        As far as I know, (and I have passingly good knowledge) there is no equivalent to ACLU anywhere in Europe, but it is long past time for one to exist. The closest in the UK is Liberty, but they don't quite meet the same level of aggressiveness required.

        You may just have given me a project!

  32. Eden
    FAIL

    Sounds like a nightmare scenario!

    Googled that book and sure enough there are more freaking risque picks of me in the nuddy as a wee lad in the family album.

    I should hand in the one of me riding my bike in the nude down the high street when I was about 4 to the police so they can arrest my parents for making and distributing, and then they can get on tracking down everyone who was in the highstreet that day for viewing!

    Idiots.

    The scary thing is as said, he was found guilty once! and had to appeal!

    If that were me it would be worse as I have a young daughter myself to whom I would no doubt loose access for the duration of this whole fiasco if not longer!

    1. Rolf Howarth

      It's worse than that

      They'd arrest you for having a nude photo of yourself as a child!

  33. kain preacher

    @John Savard

    United States, the judge can't just tell the police to go away and charge the video rental chain instead

    Hun ??? At any time a judge in the US can do just that. If a judge wanted to he or she could hold a prosecutor in contempt of court for bringing a stupid case to trial. At any point a judge in the US can stop a trial and tell the police and the DA to go pound sand. in the US the judge is the law in the court room. All though rare the proceeding judge on a trial can over turn a jury's guilt verdict.

    1. Phil 54

      "Proceeding" judge?

      Just had an image of a judge leading the jury around the court like the Pied Piper of Hamelin

      1. Ted Treen
        Badgers

        Almost there

        The original Pied Piper collected rats...

        ...so if he were in court, wouldn't he be leading a procession of lawyers?

  34. Maty

    Police state?

    A lawyer I know remarked that - for the police - a perfect legislative system would be one in which every citizen was in violation of the law at any time. That way, rather than investigate crimes, they could simply pick up the guys they 'know' are guilty and charge them with breaking the same laws that the rest of the population are breaking.

    And that is the dirty bargain the British public and parliament have made with the cops . 'Make it possible for anyone to be charged with child porn. That way, no perv will escape (And don't worry Sir, that you might be guilty under the same laws. We would never charge a law-abiding citizen like YOU.)'

    'While we are at it, let's make almost anyone guilty of terrorism, because we will only actually go after people with swarthy skins and religious beliefs we don't like. (Not for example, people walking on a bicycle path, or heckling the Prime Minister, oh, no.)'

    I don't think it's a co-incidence that so many people accused (and acquitted) of terrorism end up on sex charges. Basically, if the authorities have it in for you the law in these two areas is broad enough to get almost ANYONE for one or the other if the charges are applied creatively enough.

    1. Ted Treen
      Headmaster

      And...

      being paranoid doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Law gone mad

    What next... arresting people for buying genital-shaped potatoes?

    And how many completely reasonable, society-serving prosecutions are thrown out because, oh, sorry, they don't think they have a reasonable chance of conviction? How many because they do not think prosecution is in the public interest?

  36. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    Makes me want to move to England...

    ... because obviously everything else in the country is so great, these pictures are the level of dangerous threat the police are working to protect you from.

  37. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    A note on the origins of the CPS

    *one* of the reasons the CPS was set up in the UK was that a study was done that showed the police (who used to prosecute criminal cases in the UK *directly*) were bringing too many cases that were either being thrown out or being found not guilty.

    It was not *cost* efficient and hence the CPS was formed to *improve* the chances of success and not bring stupid expensive, cat-in-hell's-chance of winning cases to court.

    Note from the CPS POV this is a *good* case. CP is *highly* emotive and it's an *appeal*.They'd already won (so WTF aren't they going after the publisher and the author?)

    Note also that they *still* wanted to bring another re-trial. This has only been allowed in the UK since the almighty f***up that was the grossly botched Stephen Lawrence prosecution resulting in the passing of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 scrapping double jeopardy, due to that winning mixture of at least one cop being paid by one of the killers fathers and the "Institutionally racist" Metropolitan Police.

    Thank you Tony Blair for that one.

    Fail because this should *never* have gotten through being a book readily available in a mainstream *chain* of bookshops.

  38. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    Plod and CPS deciding what is acceptable, again

    Once again England's standards are being set, at least they are attempting to, by the least qualified people able to do so.

    Plod is supposed to be impartial but in fact they use words to twist the reality of what they found. No doubt they still think Lady Chatterly's Lover is too extreme.

  39. Old Tom

    Prosecute The British Library!

    I bet they've got copies of these books.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not on the level

    Either Level 1 images are indecent, or they shouldn't be on the Copine Scale in the first place. We often hear of people being convicted of have hundreds of level one images, when they have NOTHING to do with indecency.

    The Government and the law should be ashamed of trying to stitch-up people like this.

  41. Blubster

    Makes you wonder

    How you would go on if you still owned Sam Fox calendars from the eighties when she was a popular sixteen year-old model featured regularly in the Sun and elsewhere.

    Considering that any nudity depicted by under eighteens is damned near a hanging offence under today's draconian laws, you could be branded as a pedo and put on the sex offenders register. Or have I got that part wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Nope, you're right

      NuLab created lots of ways for people to get a criminal record, without realising it.

      It would be pound to a penny, that the chances of a thorough search of a random chosen dwelling turning up something illegal are greater than evens.

      I myself, have a copy of "The Anarchists Cookbook", from the late 80s. I bought it in the Virgin Megastore, TCR. But you can bet if I ever looked at a copper in a funny way, and got myself arrested so they get instant search powers, that I could face that charge of "possessing material likely to aid a terrorist".

      Remember, NuLab made a lot of these offences strict liabilty. So as long as the prosecution demonstrate the facts of the case, there is no defence.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Almost right, AC, except ...

        ... I don't believe that they didn't realise the wider implications. They might not have been the main reason for the foul drafting of the laws (which have more to do with having legislation guided by "victims" - something New Labour specialised in, with the assumption that everyone is a victim of white British men, who in turn aren't victims often enough), but they damn well did see the potential for social control that they offered.

        1. Ted Treen
          Big Brother

          Dead right, IP.

          Let's not forget, that most of the stalwarts of NuLab were lawyers and/or barristers.

          Admittedly, not very good ones, but to suggest they were totally unaware of the wider implications of their draconian legislation is to stretch credulity beyond breaking point.

          And they STILL have a degree of support in the polls, the Grauniad & the Beeb.

          Maybe you CAN fool some of the people ALL of the time.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Baby pictures of myself

    My parents, both deceased , took pictures of their first born, they waited many years for me.

    I inherited these pictures in the family photo album. They were taken in 1934!!.

    Now how does the collective wisdom of this readership view this senario?

    Is it CP to have pictures of oneself?

    Or is it only CP if its of other children?

  43. stu 4
    WTF?

    CPS punished ?

    I'd like to see the CPS get the same treatment as, say women who invent rape cases -

    they should be prosecuted for ruining the guys life.

    Once a few CPS arseholes have been banged up for a few years, the pencil pushing pricks might thing a bit before bringing fuckwitted charges against people.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Pears Soap and 2012 Olypmics

    Since the pictures do not even have to be photos, merely representations of children; is my sister in trouble,?

    (Man arrested for cartoon child porn last year)

    She has a sent of Pears Soap Posters, you remember? the 1930's ones with the sketches of naked children on??

    Also, as I cannot get it out of my head since someone pointed it out to me; the 2012 logo looks like Lisa Simpson giving oral sex, should the Olympic Committee, BT and every other organisation displaying the image be arrested??

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      AC@01:08

      "She has a sent of Pears Soap Posters, you remember? the 1930's ones with the sketches of naked children on??"

      Oh that'll be "drawn" p()rn.

      That's *also* illegal.

      After all, who *knows* what real life model might have been used for it?

      Guess she'd better turn herself in.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm shocked

    I find the idea that one could be prosecuted for buying a widely available book quite absurd. The judge was spot on. If these books contain illegal material, go after the publisher.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Great!

    Makes me wonder how that stupid ban on drawn pornography fairs now...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Baby pictures of myself

    I read a news article a few years ago about some girl in the U.S. who took photos of herself naked (she was 15)

    She was charged with making and distributing child pornography as well as abuse of minors (even though the latter clearly has nothing to do with anything)

    So, in answer to your question, yes.

  48. TRT Silver badge

    There is guidance...

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/indecent_photographs_of_children/

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm...

    I wonder if the CPS have ever heard of the Steisand effect...

    This reminds me of the Virgin Killer thing a few years ago.

  50. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    So...

    Does this mean I can now possess a picture of myself sitting naked in the bath at age 2 without being guilty of self abuse?

  52. Johan Bastiaansen
    FAIL

    Why was nobody jailed ???

    Surely, this is illegal. The prosecutors should have been sent to jail.

    You would be surprised how fast common sense will rise amongst these bureaucrats. And if it doesn’t, all of them can be put behind bars.

    A missed opportunity.

  53. Jason 24
    Dead Vulture

    I'm very worried

    Recently, say 6 weeks ago?, my house was raided, under allegations of child porn being in the house. We weren't arrested, no charges have been made, we weren't even taken to the cop shop, yet they've confiscated all of my PCs/laptops/HDDs. One of the comments from the police offers who came round and gutted my house was "have you fallen out with anyone recently?" WTF is that supposed to mean? That someone has just said "such and such has child porn"? Don't you need some hard fucking evidence before you can start tearing peoples lives apart?!?!

    Having spoken to a solicitor we're looking at at least 9 months or so before we look at getting the kit back. I'm a network administrator who is currently unable to administer his network remotely as I don't have a PC. I'm massively worried that somewhere in my browser cache is a picture from an advert on the side of a site which shows a girl who may or may not be under 18, and may or may not be in posing in a manner which is supposed to turn people on. Where the fuck does that put me?

    The Police are majorly taking the piss with this shit nowadays, and seemingly I have absolutely recourse against them.

    Does anyone here have any advice as to what I can do to speed the process up? Kit goes out of date in 9 months, less than that, so I need to look at buying a new PC much sooner than I originally planned.

    RIP as I may well be locked up and unable to visit el reg again soon

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      9 months?

      Geez... I can't stand the thought of being away from my computer for nine minutes, but nine months...

      Think if you spoke to the European Court (of human rights), it'd get the process sped up?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Precedent set

    Important to note that this ruling was made by a Judge in the Appeal Court which sets a precedent that Judges in future cases will (or possibly are obliged to) follow. So does this now mean that CPS will now have to pursue the retailer/producer of "indecent" images rather than the possessor? I.e. is "I bought it from ...... and you don't seem to have taken any action against them" now a valid defence?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Time for a total redrafting of the law

    The police, cps and any number of 'concerned' pressure groups keep insisting on calling child porn 'child abuse images' and push the fact that 'every image is a crime scene' when level 1 (and sometimes level 2) images often contain no abuse whatsoever (assuming they weren't taken under duress).

    However, much better press to say that someone had '10,000' images and look tough on the paedos, without actually having to do any work on reducing real child abuse - you know, the type that happens largely within that great family unit the Tories are always banging on about - or certain religious organisations.

    It will be interesting to see the knock on affects of this decision, as previous case law has largely discounted the ability of the defence to call evidence relating to 'standards of propriety'.

    However, I wouldn't mind betting that even now police all round the country will still be pressuring people who don't have proper legal advice to accept a caution, and 5 years on the register, for the same images and same book.

    @Jason 24 - you need to get some good legal advice, not just the local solicitor who will go with the flow. Get someone who will pressure the police, and threaten action unless they respond, and you MIGHT stand a chance.

    If not, then damn well make sure you put in a big claim when its all over for loss of business, etc - sometimes the budget is the only thing that will make senior management take an interest.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021