‘Tiger’ Case May Spur Government Review of ‘Extreme Porn’ Law

Oct 27, 2014
Anti-Porn
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Earlier today, we ran a post from Metro UK regarding a bus driver named Andrew Holland who was cleared of owning footage of a woman having sex with a tiger when it was discovered that the video in question actually depicted a man in a tiger costume.

In Crown Court, the Judge requested that the video be played in full, with the sound on, in open Court. Crown Prosecutors said they realized that it was a man and not an actual tiger, only after he was heard on the soundtrack exclaiming, “That’s grrrrrrreat,” à la Tony the Tiger in a Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercial.

Tony the Tiger costume -- 'Tiger' Case May Spur Government Review of 'Extreme Porn' Law

E.J. Dickson at The Daily Dot reported on the case today, explaining that

Now, Holland is teaming up with British anti-censorship activists to protest the extreme porn law with which he was initially charged. He’s partnered up with the British civil liberties organization Backlash to lobby the government to change the law, arguing that it unfairly targets ordinary citizens like Holland and infringes on their freedom of expression.

“This law threatens anyone with a sex life they want to keep private,” Backlash spokesperson Jon Fuller told the Mirror. “It threatens ordinary members of the public who exchange dirty jokes by phone and over the Internet. Potentially criminalizing millions of people is a disproportionate consequence of a law not based on harm and with no clear benefit.”

'Tiger' Case May Spur Government Review of ‘Extreme Porn’ Law

Backlash offers this explanation of the UK’s laws on ‘extreme pornography’:

Did you know it is illegal to possess ‘extreme pornography’? This includes adult pornography deemed realistic, explicit and depicting at least one of these things:
•    an act which threatens a person’s life,
•    an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals,
•    an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or
•    a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive).

This includes pretend acts and acts that are both legal and consensual to perform. Police have charged people over images of fisting, urethral sounding and (bizarrely) wearing gasmasks. No alternative sex act is entirely safe.

Backlash has advised countless people and support court cases that keep law-abiding sexual minorities out of prison.

Now the Government wants to ban fictional depictions of rape as well. This is set to include images depicting rough sex and fantasy rape scenarios that are enjoyed safely and consensually by countless people throughout the UK.

Noted UK attorney Myles Jackman notes that the ‘Tiger’ video had been sent to the defendant

by a friend, unsolicited, as a joke. He had no idea what the content of the video was before opening it. Yet the defendant was arrested at his home address, interviewed by the police under caution, charged, then bailed to the Magistrates’ Court and finally sent to the Crown Court….

Now, Mr Holland has requested that the Crown Prosecution Service review this law, to save other innocents from facing the same fate as him.

This review comes when it has become clear that millions of adults using mobile phone messaging services like WhatsApp can be sent potentially “extreme” material to their phones, by friends, without knowing that they are actually in technical possession of illegal images.

If it is unclear whether an image might be extreme and therefore illegal, how can a person be expected to know if they’ve broken the law?

In a letter to the Prime Minister published online, Backlash states:

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP, acting on behalf of Andrew Holland, has written to The Director of Public Prosecutions explaining that the case against Mr Holland breached his human rights for three reasons.

  1. That the term “extreme” pornography is insufficiently clearly defined in S63 CJIA 2008.  It is not clear from the wording and accompanying case law how a potential defendant would be able to understand its scope and foresee the consequence of his/her actions;
  1. There is insufficient guidance from the DPP as to when offences under S63 will be prosecuted; and
  1. The offence is a disproportionate means of achieving the legislation’s intended aims.

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP have asked that the Secretary of State for the Home Department carries out a Human Rights Impact Assessment in relation to S63 CJIA 2008. In the event that the section fails the Human Rights Impact Assessment it is requested that this be confirmed in writing so that proceedings can be issued by way of judicial review by the Claimant who can then seek a Declaration of Incompatibility by way of a Consent Order. This will allow the Secretary of State for the Home Department to repeal Section 63 of the Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008 by use of the fast-track procedure under Section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

We’ll give Ms Dickson the last word:

It’s unclear if Holland’s story will have any effect on the public perception of the extreme porn law, but either way, it seems pretty clear that the British police who arrested him need to take a refresher course in basic zoology.

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[…] “This law threatens anyone with a sex life they want to keep private,” Backlash spokesperson Jon Fuller told the Mirror. “It threatens ordinary members of the public who …read more       […]

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