Sunday, 27 February 2011

CPS: Lazy, Cowardly And Incompetent…

Lord Justice Richards said it was "very unfair" that Stephen Neal, 59, was pursued by the law for having four artistic photo books - which prosecutors claimed contained "level one" child porn - when the books' publishers and retailers who sold them were left alone.
Ah, but you see the books’ publishers and retailers have teams of lawyers on retainer, all the better to see off the useless, lazy, incompetent failed lawyers in the CPS.
"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," he told the court.
There’s a reason jackals don’t target the strong, healthy members of the herd. Those horns and hooves can hurt
Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Eady and Sir Christopher Holland, said all the books discovered at Mr Neal's home were "widely available from a number of reputable outlets".

Sally Mann's "Still Time" was also on sale at a London art gallery last summer, he added, but no action had been taken against the gallery by the CPS.

"Against this background, it is a matter of surprise that charges were brought against this individual in respect of the pictures," said the judge.
It’s a surprise? Really?

It seems this all stemmed from yet another botched trial:
Mr Neal had also been charged with possessing an "extreme" pornographic DVD, but was cleared of that allegation on the trial judge's direction.
It seems the CPS hate to lose face even more than some inscrutable Eastern warlord:
"It is legitimate to wonder if such charges would have been brought against him but for his prosecution in relation to the DVD".
It is indeed legitimate. Unlike the CPS lawyers’ parentage.

And despite this slapdown, they didn’t seem to quite get the message:
The Crown Prosecution Service's application for a retrial was refused after Lord Justice Richards concluded that re-prosecuting Mr Neal was "not in the public interest".
But investigating this shocking waste of public money by the CPS would indeed be ‘in the public interest’. So why isn't anyone doing it?


Smoking Hot said...

Oh dear, if they are going after Sally Manns work we are all in trouble.

Ian B said...

Well, one thing to remember is that the basis of laws like this is a quite alien thing to our Common Law heritage. Traditionally, we prosecuted "acts". The kiddie pr0n laws have nothing to do with that idea of prosecuting somebody for causing some harm. They are designed to identify certain types of persons.

It's a basically essentialist view. Certain people have an "essence" and the authorities are attempting to remove people with that essential character from society- racists, or sexists, or paedophiles, or what have you. You can see the same ideology deployed in "positive" ways too; so it is declared that homosexuality or gender are essences.

So it's not a question of whether something is or is not pornographic, nor whether a child or anyone else has been or will be harmed by it. The possession of these things (the whole classificaiton of child porn has been developed by a very small number of psychologists working with the authorities) is an indicator of what type of person you are, and that you need to be removed from society for being that type of person. For having a "paedophilic essence". It's not about crimes at all.

It's also worth noting that this essentialist view is only applied to the New Moralism. It doesn't apply to traditional crimes. So, burglary is not essentialist. Burglary is still considered an act; you can pay for it and be reformed and so on. But moral essences are irreformable, so a paedophile is always a paedophile and a rapist is always a rapist. Hence, there is a sex offenders register, but no burglar register etc.

This is why right wingers (reasonably) perceive the authorities as not caring about crime (traditional crimes like burglary or mugging what have you). The resoruces of law enforcement are increasingly skewed towards the essentialist crimes and removing such persons from society, hence the neglect of pursuit and punishment of traditional crime.

Woman on a Raft said...

An interesting reprise of an earlier case.

In 2005 Stanley Loam pleaded guilty to specimen charges brought as part of Operation Ore. He had the Hamilton book, but he also had a great number of other pictures.

He did not persist with his defence of it being artistic material. Afterwards, the police insisted that possession of that book itself established a case, which is by no means clear.

The Guardian published a clarification because their original story relied on the police's briefing and failed to make it clear that the specimin charges did not necessarily indicate anything about the book.

The court had not been asked to rule on the indecency of the book or its contents; to claim it had legally been ruled indecent was no more true than for any other book in Mr Loam's house.

Since then, of course, Operation Ore has collapsed.

The CPS would have known this after a little bit of googling, as Paul Goggins already answered the question on legal advice.

Art on trial
The Guardian
Wednesday 13 July 2005 23.53 BST

I am writing in response to your article on the artwork of David Hamilton (Hamilton's naked girl shots ruled 'indecent', G2, June 23). As a photographic artist and a campaigner for freedom of speech, I disagree with the comments of DC Simon Ledger. Following written advice from the Home Office, speaking to the Crown Prosecution Service and reading the appeals court judgement cited to me by Home Office minister Paul Goggins, the book Age of Innocence is not indecent. It has also never been before a British jury, in any case. In the US it is constitutionally protected as art.

All the above government agencies and a local detective constable have told me that purchasing a book from a high street retailer should give a citizen every reason to believe the book is legal. We fought to defeat the dictatorship of Hitler, we have not been cowed by terrorists and we will not have our freedoms of expressions to make art together decided by individual police officers - that is not how British law is made, or works.

Charles Fox
Winkleigh, Devon

blueknight said...

The 'kiddie porn law' (possession of indecent pictures of children)has been in existence since the late 70s.
But the interpretation of what is and what isn't seems to have changed over the years.
I do not know what was in the books but simple nakedness is generally not indecent, - or you could not buy Nirvana's never mind album, - or a print of Raphael's Madonna and child....

JuliaM said...

"...the basis of laws like this is a quite alien thing to our Common Law heritage. "

Indeed. Anna Raccoon has a good post on thought crime this morning.

"Since then, of course, Operation Ore has collapsed."

Unfortunately, not taking the career of master opportunist Jim Gamble with it...

"...the interpretation of what is and what isn't seems to have changed over the years."


Anonymous said...

Note the word Crown in Crown Prosecution Service. It exists to indicate this is not about justice as normal people would see it but about propping up the law, as defined by those in charge and those granted power.

So if these weasels pass some social construct law they have to have their appointed officials attempt to enforce it. Taking people to court on the basis of flimsy whims is not enough for common sense but it is heaven sent manna for the elite, who can thus see their ideas put into prominence.

Of course, ordinary and even innocent people will get hurt, but the elite need to show how powerful they are.