Embarrassment for CPS as it loses porn trial case

Justice? Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) fails to pursue an extreme porn case
Justice? Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)fails to pursue an extreme porn case

By politics.co.uk staff

Questions were being asked about the effectiveness of Labour's laws against extreme porn today, after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lost a case against a former barrister.

Simon Walsh, a gay barrister and former mayoral aide, was charged with possessing images which could result in “serious injury” to a person’s anus, breasts or genitalia in his email, but was unanimously found not guilty by a jury at Kingston Crown Court.

The case raises questions about the original legislation and the behaviour of the CPS, as well as laws around electronic communication.

It also saw a CPS barrister flirt with controversy when they suggested people who went to sexual health clinics "engage in more risky practices".

The CPS moved to disasociate itself from the comment today.

“The CPS does not endorse counsel’s remarks. Those who attend sexual health clinics are people who are mindful of their health. The question should not have been asked,” a spokesperson said.

Privacy campaigners were outraged the trial went ahead despite the police corrupting evidence by accessing the images on Walsh's computer.

If the jury had convicted, it would have implied people could be charged with possession for unopened email attachments they had not solicited.

But most of the controversy raged around the CPS decision to pursue prosecution against a man with images of a sex act, 'fisting', which is legal to perform and even features in the hugely successful erotica book 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.


"Today I was unanimously acquitted by a jury at Kingston Crown Court of five charges of being in possession of extreme pornography despite the images depicting acts which are legal to perform, and an extremely damaging allegation of being in possession of child porn in respect of a single image sent to me unrequested via email over three years ago which the jury had no difficulty deciding was in fact a picture of an adult," Walsh said in a statement afterwards.

"I would like to commend the jury for their common sense verdict, my legal team for their robust efforts and all the support I have received from the general public.

"I would like to take this opportunity to encourage our legislators and regulators not to prosecute individuals in possession of images depicting private and consensual adult sexual acts."

The law was originally introduced following the brutal murder of Jane Longhurst, whose killer, Graham Coutts, admitted being addicted to violent internet pornography.

A petition of 50,000 people triggered a Home Office consultation and a law against extreme pornography, which also includes scenes in which someone's life is threatened or sex with an animal.

A CPS spokesperson commented: "Possession of images that depict acts likely to cause serious injury is illegal and the CPS prosecutes the law as it stands. We do not make the law and cannot change it.

"This case was not about the practice itself, but was based on the evidence of medical experts who said the way the acts were performed was likely to cause serious injury or harm.

"We therefore concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove this offence and that the matter should, therefore, be put before a jury to decide."

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