The #PornTrial reveals the prejudices (and possible peccadilloes) of the CPS

Today, a man was found not guilty of a crime which harmed no-one, and should never have been considered criminal in the first place. His offence? He had some porn in his email which involved scenes of consensual fisting, urethral sounding and a man wearing a gas mask. Oh, and he’d pissed off some cops by prosecuting them for disciplinary offences, which I’m sure has absolutely nothing to do with the decision to prosecute him.

It seems ridiculous to prosecute a person for this in the first place, especially considering the last fisting trial ruled that fisting is not obscene. Like bluebottles bashing their heads against a window, the CPS decided this time to prosecute under a different act relating to extreme pornography and harm. Despite evidence from two medical professionals describing the minimal harm involved, the CPS still insisted on pushing the harm line.

The risible excuse for evidence presented by the prosecution was at best wobbly, and at worst, outright offensive, for example:

 CPS – Walsh fantasised about being involved in being in an orgy.

Yes. The defendant’s fantasies were used as evidence against him. A not uncommon fantasy, either. And something which is perfectly legal for consenting adults to participate in, whether in person or on film.

Not content to merely stigmatise what people think about, despite it being thoroughly irrelevant to the case, the CPS also decided to go after people who get regular sexual health checks.

Astonishing that CPS have contended in Court that people who attend sexual health clinics engage in more risky practices.

In fact, regular health checks are a responsible thing to do, and to attempt to use responsibility to smear the character of the defendant is risky as fuck.

As if this all wasn’t offensive enough, the CPS decided to inject a bit of sexism into the case–no mean feat, considering the defendant was a gay man and all of the porn in question was gay porn. For some reason, though, they felt it appropriate to ask a female expert witness if fisting would be more degrading if it involved a woman, and they didn’t much like the answer she gave:

CPS – Dr Smith would not concede images were degrading if it pictured a woman. This is clearly wrong.

Thanks for the paternalism, CPS! Also, apparently it’s selfish and untrue to say that it isn’t degrading:

CPS – Dr Smith’s evidence was disingenuous, self-serving and dishonest.

That clears that up, then.

The case lays bare the societal prejudices against non-mainstream sexual preferences. None of the porn depicted anything non-consensual, and everything is perfectly legal to try in your own bedroom, even if you have invited a lot of people along to watch. After watching all this porn, the jury rightly concluded that no crime had been committed.

It’s surprising that in 2012, the law still has a fascination with trying to restrict perfectly consensual sex and fantasies. The prosecution’s case rested entirely on dated ideologies and stigmatisation of kink, and I’m glad the jury saw right through it.

It made no sense to prosecute this in the first place, in a case which seemed doomed to fail from the start. I can think of three possible reasons why it happened. Only two of them are kinky.

  1. The CPS has a fetish for showing juries fisting porn.
  2. The CPS likes to be humiliated, and is pushing ever harder at boundaries with ever more ridiculous cases.
  3. The CPS have the backs of the police and helped them in their quest for revenge.

I hope it’s the first or the second reason, as in this case, we can work together to help the CPS safely play out its fantasies by finding them some playmates with a thing for being consensually maliciously prosecuted. Sadly, though, the third option seems most likely. The defendant pissed off the state, and the state decided to punish him. Despite the not guilty verdict, the defendant has lost his job and his privacy has been thoroughly violated, with vanilla society knowing about his kinks and judging him for them.

It’s a grotesque abuse of a law that shouldn’t exist in the first place, allowing prejudice to be catalysed into a spiteful smear campaign.

__

I’m no lawyer, so if you want more information and analysis on the legal background to the case, these posts from ObscenityLawyer, NoMoreLost and David Allen Green are good sources, and here’s a good write-up of the verdict from NoMoreLost.


9 responses to “The #PornTrial reveals the prejudices (and possible peccadilloes) of the CPS

  • jemima101

    one of the many disturbing aspects of this case was the CPS ignoring the importance of consent. If we are to tackle rape culture then the primacy of consent needs to be stated loudly and clearly. Whilst we still have the state insisting it know best in term of what is good for you sexually we will not tackle a whole host of issues and are left in the position of police forces telling women not to drink to avoid rape.

    • stavvers

      This point is so incredibly crucial. To me, it’s second nature to focus on the consent of the sex, and sometimes I egocentrically lose sight of the fact that really, the CPS didn’t care anywhere near as much about this as they did about how icky they found it.

  • Rob

    Both the head of CPS and the officers bringing the case in the first place should have been fined for wasting the courts time, both parties new the case should not have been brought but it was anyway.

    It’s the only way of making sure that the CPS and police only bring cases that are valid.

    • stavvers

      Personally, I hope he sues the fuck out of them for this. He’s got a decent case and malicious prosecution should be easy to show.

      I remember once being in a legal briefing workshop, which concluded that if you get arrested and tried, and get off, you should always sue, as chances are you’ll get a decent payout and if enough people do it, they’ll start to get the message.

  • Cadno

    I recall the campaign to make this law. Badly drafted then ?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/berkshire/7851346.stm

    • Cadno

      The section in which this offence is set out doesn’t mention the issue of ‘consent’ – probably explains why it wasn’t necessary to delve into the topic – as that would have been a waste of time for the CPS.

      @Rob – do we really want a system where the CPS is threatened too often with wasted cost orders.

      [rest of comment moderated due to lack of relevance and dog-whistle rape apologism]

  • stavvers

    You’re right here. I think it should be easy to find 12 volunteers to play the jury in this scene!

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