Law of Pornography

S.63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, also known as the CJIA, deals with extreme pornography in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland which has its own equivalent – the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. Hence, simulated rape scenes are unlawful in Scotland, but lawful everywhere else.

Extreme Pornography

In s.66 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, possession of pornography which depicts some acts of sex which causes injury between consenting adults was legalized. On the other hand, s.63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 made it illegal to possess images which, for the purposes of sexual arousal depict a threat to a person’s life, any act which is likely to result in serious injury to the breasts, anus or genitals, sex with a corpse or sex with an animal.

There are quite a few recent cases of people being prosecuted for having bestiality, necrophilia, videos of staged knife-attacks and drowning on women, the later arriving at a not guilty verdict the others being found guilty. Indeed, of the over 1,000 prosecutions for s.63 offenses in 2011, almost all of them pleaded guilty.

Simon Walsh was charged with 5 counts of possession of extreme pornography contrary to s.63. The pictures on his laptop were of anal fisting and urethral soundings. These are legal acts to perform for both gay and heterosexual people – fisting is even mentioned in 50 Shades of Grey. The acts were performed by consenting adults in private and four photos were taken. A fifth photo was emailed to Simon and although he received the email, he never opened the email or saw the image.

However, the possession of images which activities “likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals” are illegal. The prosecution alleged that the unopened email was an sexual image of a 14 year old boy, although it later transpired that the “boy” was actually an adult in his twenties.

The jury sensibly acquitted Simon, although it became clear during the trail that what constitutes “extreme pornography” is subjective, ill-defined and open to prejudice and interpretation.

In another case, Kevin Webster was accused of having over 1,250 “grossly offensive or disgusting” pictures, even though they were “fakes”. It transpired that over 900 of them were of people fully clothed not engaged in any form of sexual activity. The jury acquitted Kevin also.

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