David Cameron did not breach regulations by saying twat and pissed off on Christian O'Connell's Absolute Radio show, Ofcom has ruled.
The Conservative leader apologised after as he explained to Absolute Radio presenter Christian O'Connell why he did not use the Twitter social networking service.
During the interview, Cameron was asked whether he used Twitter, and he replied: The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it - too many twits might make a twat.
Shortly afterwards, the Tory leader was talking about the impact of the expenses scandal on Westminster's reputation and said: The public are rightly, I think, pissed off - sorry I can't say that in the morning - angry with politicians.
The incident prompted 20 complaints about offensive language to Ofcom, but the broadcasting watchdog said the show was not in breach of its rules.
An Ofcom spokesman said: In the context of the interview and the programme overall, the remarks did not breach the broadcasting code.
Flintshire County Council has been forced to rethink its ill-considered decision to rename Spotted Dick as Spotted Richard .
According to the BBC, the powers that be pulled Spotted Dick from the menu after several immature comments from a few customers at its HQ in Mold.
Councilor Klaus Armstrong-Braun who'd slammed the rebrand as ludicrous told the BBC: It's a great victory for Spotted Dick and for everyone who makes it. It's made Flintshire a laughing stock all over the world. I've had lots of letters
Flintshire council's Colin Everett, confirmed: Although the majority have seen the humorous side of the story, the impression given in the media that the council might have been 'politically correct' has led to some derision and, sadly, to a number
of abusive letters being sent in from across the country.
In full agreement with the catering management Flintshire County Council will observe proper tradition and refer to all dishes by their proper name. Spotted Dick will be back on the menu under its proper and proud name. In future, any customers who
act in this childish way will be asked to behave properly or will be refused service.
The UK Electoral Commission has said it will not be able to police the expected explosion in spoof internet videos at the next general election.
Some experts believe unattributed videos on YouTube and e-mails could be used to spread false information.
Election leaflets must include a named individual to prevent foul play - but there are no such laws on the internet. The elections watchdog has told the BBC it does not have the resources to scour the internet for malicious videos.
The Electoral Commission says candidates' websites should include details of who published the material as a matter of good practice but they are not required by law to do so.
In 2003, it said spoof websites were an acceptable part of the democratic debate as long as they were clearly identifiable as such and did not seek to deceive the voters. But the advent of video sharing sites such as YouTube has led to a massive
increase in political material on the internet - and it is expected to play a crucial role at the general election, which must take place before June.
An Electoral Commission spokesman said it had no plans to police internet material during the general election campaign: There is nothing in electoral legislation that would cover that kind of stuff. Our job is to provide guidance for those people
taking part in an election and to help them stay within the law.
But he makes clear that complaints about potentially defamatory material, under electoral laws, remain a matter for the police and that cases will be investigated.
Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist, has called for Britain's libel laws to be reformed following a string of cases in which science researchers and writers have been sued for criticising health therapies they felt to be unreliable.
Among those currently facing writs is Simon Singh, the broadcaster and author, who is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for an article criticising the use of chiropractic techniques for some childhood illnesses. He has spent
£100,000 defending the action.
Another is Peter Wilmshurst, a heart specialist at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, who is being sued by NMT Medical, an American company, for suggesting that medical trials into one of its devices had been described inaccurately to other scientists.
Wilmshurst made his remarks in America to a US journalist who published it on an American website. However, the company was still able to issue its writ in Britain, where libel laws are regarded as among the most draconian in the world.
Dawkins told the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth that the UK's libel laws are having a chilling effect on public debate about science and medicine: England's libel law is being ridiculed as an international charter for the litigious. I
urge politicians to support the call for reform so we can get cross-party support on this vital issue.
The campaign to change Britain's libel laws has won widespread support. Sile Lane of Sense About Science, which is co-ordinating the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign, said the same plea would be made to the upcoming Labour and Conservative
Proposals for radical changes to UK libel laws aimed at updating them for the internet age have been published.
Online publishers currently face the prospect of fresh legal action every time an article is downloaded, even if many years have passed since it first appeared. Newspapers and civil liberties campaigners complain the effect is to drastically limit
freedom of speech.
Changes to the law could involve the abolishing of the 160-year-old multiple publication rule , which allows for a new libel claim with every click, providing it is made within a year.
That could be replaced with a single publication rule, allowing only one court action against defamatory material, to prevent open ended liability.
A consultation paper published by the Ministry of Justice also suggests increasing the limitation period of claims to three years after discovery of the article. Publishers of online archives and blogs might also be given a defence of qualified
privilege against offending article after the year time limit had expired. They would face action only if they refused to publish a correction on the offending web page.
Media lawyers say the effect of the multiple publication rule has been to make London the libel capital of the world with litigants claiming here against publications based all over the world on the basis of web-based literature.
One million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders, commonest in teenage girls. More than one in 10 girls look at pro-eating disorder websites repeatedly, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says.
In a paper today, the College calls on the Government to do more to protect vulnerable women. They say the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, set up last year, should specifically target pro-eating disorder websites in its monitoring and
Professor Ulrike Schmidt, chair of the College's Eating Disorders Section, said: This is not a rare problem; it affects a significant number of schoolchildren. Studies have shown that girls who looked at these sites had low self-esteem, felt bad
about their bodies and were miserable. Patients in eating disorders units spend up to 20 hours a week looking at [the websites]. There is a vulnerable group of women who are being sucked into this.
The pro-eating disorder websites offer a forum for debate and help young girls stave off doubt about what they are doing. They offer a way of keeping in touch with thousands around the world who share their vision. Other countries have tried to
control the websites by law. A Bill to ban them in France last year was ultimately lost. In Spain, the health ministry has closed sites accused of promoting self-starvation in girls and, in the Netherlands, moves have been made to add warnings to the
sites. Professor Schmidt said the College was not proposing a ban on the websites, many of which were beyond UK jurisdiction: These sites are probably set up by people who are themselves vulnerable. Criminalising the problem would not be helpful.
The Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, called for an overhaul of the regulatory structure of the BBC yesterday and claimed that the Corporation's governing body, The BBC Trust, should be scrapped.
In a speech to the Royal Television Society's annual convention, Bradshaw said the Trust, which only came into effect in 2007 was an unsustainable model and should be replaced. I know of no other area of public life where – as is the case
with the Trust – the same body is both regulator and cheerleader.
The BBC is under intense pressure from commercial media organisations that whinge it has grown too large. The Corporation's senior management is concerned that a future Conservative government would try to reduce the BBC licence fee.
Britain's only matador has been told he cannot promote his memoirs in Waterstone's following protests by animal rights groups.
The book chain has cancelled a series of in-store appearances by Frank Evans, who was due to sign copies of his autobiography, The Last British Bullfighter . The 67 year-old came out of retirement last month to step back into the bullring,
becoming the oldest toreador in the business.
Waterstone's acted after receiving complaints from supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the Born Free Foundation and the North West Hunt Saboteurs Association, among others. The signings were scheduled to take place in
Manchester and Liverpool.
A spokesman for the chain said: In the best interests of our customers and staff, last week Waterstone's decided to cancel the two Last British Bullfighter events. No further events related to the book are planned.
Evans said Waterstone's had made the right decision. He told The Daily Telegraph: I've been in this business for over 40 years so I'm quite used to animal rights activists targeting me. I would hate for any of Waterstone's staff to come to any
harm so I completely understand their decision to cancel.
It's a sad day when they can stop people reading something. Over the years I've had letter bombs in the post and death threats. These extremists can be quite sinister.
The Last British Bullfighter chronicles Evans' unlikely journey from the backstreets of Salford, where he grew up as the son of a butcher, to the Spanish bullfighting circuit, where he is known to fans as El Inglés.
The head of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has reiterated the organisation's focus on the most serious images of child abuse, implying a recalibration of its efforts to police borderline material.
When El Reg spoke with Peter Robbins, Chief Executive of the IWF last month, he was at pains to re-assure us that the the IWF was not into the numbers game – blocking any and everything where there was the slightest hint of impropriety. Rather, the
main focus was on the worst excesses: identifying instances of real child abuse.
ISPs that fail to curb child pornography on the web would be criminalised in a crackdown to be introduced in the Queen's Speech this autumn.
The Home Office is drawing up plans for what, in effect, would be the first form of state intervention in Britain in relation to the internet.
British ISPs would face heavy fines for failing to block sites containing images of child sexual abuse, according to the contents of a leaked Home Office document seen by The Independent on Sunday.
Figures show that 98.5% of ISPs already take down or block illegal sites through the Internet Watch Foundation, a self-regulation body created in 1996 that monitors content and reports obscene images to police.
Opponents of the move say the IWF is working well and claim a new crackdown would force ISPs to deal with Scotland Yard, which has less experience of blocking websites, and in the process allow more illegal images to slip through the net.
The leaked Home Office letter says a clause in the Police, Crime and Private Security Bill in the Queen's Speech would compel domestic ISPs to implement the blocking of illegal images of child sexual abuse.
There will be a four-week consultation with ISPs on the proposals, but insiders said the firms had not been informed about the proposed crackdown. A Whitehall source said: "This is a gesture which will undermine the real work that is going on
to tackle child porn abuse. The Internet Watch Foundation is already working to take down sites and people are getting arrested.
It is a little hard to believe that somehow the same films can be blamed again. Time has moved on and I cannot see modern street wise kiddy thugs lapping up these minor films of 20 years ago. Surely there are more modern (and more gory) blame targets
The Doncaster child murderers story has, predictably enough, got the right-wing tabloid press screaming about the threat of a violent and out of control feral youth and spewing indignation about Britain's ammoral underclass.
Nobody knows what caused this two boys to commit such acts of grotesque brutality but the Tory tabloid press will go for the usual easy scapegoats.
The Daily Mail is already trying to insinuate some link between this appalling case and the Child's Play horror movies. Echos of 1993 and Jamie Bulger spring to mind.
Amazon UK have withdrawn a CD of Manchester United chants from sale on its website because of complaints that some of the lyrics are offensive.
The unofficial album Manchester United Chants contains a supporters' song aimed at Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
A statement from Amazon.co.uk explained that Arsenal had complained about the nature of the chants.
It said: Arsenal Football Club has provided us with formal notice that content within the album Manchester United Chants is defamatory in nature and we have, therefore, removed this title from our website. We would not remove a product from our site because some, or many, people find it to be distasteful or otherwise objectionable.
Wenger was sent off during Arsenal's recent 2-1 defeat against Manchester United after he kicked over a water bottle following a disallowed Gunner's goal. Arsenal supporters have complained that he was then subjected to this particular chant by some
Manchester United fans.
Manchester United's director of communications Philip Townsend said: We have gone on the record - several times - about this disgusting chant.
The chants listed for the album are:
1. Park Park Wherever You May Be [Explicit]
2. Anderson Anderson [Explicit]
3. Who Are Ya? [Explicit]
4. Sit Down [Explicit]
5. Easy Easy Easy [Explicit]
6. Same Old Arsenal Always Cheating [Explicit]
7. Champions 07/08 [Explicit]
8. When The Reds Go Marching In [Explicit]
9. Build A Bonfire [Explicit]
10. United wohohoh! [Explicit]
11. We Are The Stretford Enders [Explicit]
Is "Same Old Arsenal Always Cheating" the chant that is considered so disgusting?
Advert censor whinges at 23 year old model who they claim looks under 16
In a such a dangerous area as age, surely the authorities could leave people the defence of actual age. What proportion of 18 year olds 'look' under 18, surely quite high and how dangerous is that in these nonsensical times? Being 23 should be the end
An ad, for American Apparel (AA) clothing, which appeared on the back cover of Vice magazine, was headlined FLEXFLEECE Ryan wears the classic unisex Flex Fleece zip hoody .... Below were two rows each consisting of three photographs of a
young looking girl wearing the hoody and looking directly at the camera. In the first row, she was wearing the hoody zipped up and appeared to be wearing underpants. In one photograph, she was wearing big-framed glasses.
In the second row, she was wearing the hoody unzipped and was naked underneath. She was wearing underpants and wore the glasses in two of the photographs. In the last photograph, her left nipple was partially exposed.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the depiction of nudity in the ad was offensive and unsuitable to appear on the back of a free magazine that could be seen by anyone, including children;
2. the ad was offensive and inappropriate, because the model seemed young and vulnerable and could be seen to sexualise a child.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted the free magazine targeted 18- to 34-year-olds and the editorial content was of an adult nature, featuring articles on culture and sex. We noted the ad appeared on the back cover of the magazine but also noted that the magazine was
primarily distributed through channels which greatly reduced the chance of it being seen by children. We considered that the depiction of nudity in the ad (ignoring the age of the model which is dealt with in point 2 below) was not so overly gratuitous
as to make it unsuitable for or likely to cause serious or widespread offence to the target audience. We concluded that, given the targeted medium, the depiction of nudity was acceptable for the back cover of Vice magazine.
We noted the model was 23 years old and had been styled without make-up to give a natural look. We nevertheless considered that she appeared young, and in some of the pictures, looked under 16. We did not however consider that she appeared especially
While the ad depicted only partial nudity, we considered that the images were provocative with the model exposing progressively more skin in each photo in the series. We considered that the photographs suggested that she was stripping off for an
amateur-style photo shoot.
Because the ad could be seen to sexualise a model who appeared to be a child, under the age of 16 years, we concluded that it was inappropriate and could cause serious offence to some readers.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 (Taste and decency).
I almost split my sides laughing, until I recalled that for a quarter of a century people have been flung in prison for crimes that never existed. I hope that the government ends up paying massive compensation. As far as my taxes are concerned, it's a
worthier cause than bombing Afghans, or prosecuting prostitutes' maids for "controlling" them.
We Brits need to wake up top what our control freak government is doing. Every time some nutter whinges about the opening of a sex shop, we need to point out that such shops are only necessary because of the (illegal) VRA. If M. LeBrun, Herr Braun
and Sig. Bruni want a naughty film, they can buy it from a mainstream shop or by mail order, while Mr Brown is obliged (or, it appears, not obliged) to skulk into a sex shop in a sub-prime shopping area.
I suggest that all Melon Farmers write to their MPS asking for this nonsense to be consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.
From Alan (writing from a civilised country, where the station bookstall has a range of mucky films available to commuters)
As the Act was written a long time before DVD's and DVD extras, it's all a matter of interpretation as to what, besides the actual film, needed to be classified. In my book audio commentaries would be exempt, but the BBFC tells you that 'Our lawyers
suggest that these require classification'. And what about 'the making of...' documentaries, interviews with cast and crew members and so on. Ask the BBFC and they reply with, "It's our job to classify things, it's up to you what you send us, we
can't tell you what the law is - look at the Act". I did, and I discovered that it's policed by Trading Standards who only act in response to a complaint. Their concern is actually more with pirate copies. So I put the question to a cross section of
Trading Standards departments as to what was exempt when it came to DVD extras. And I got a lot of different replies, ranging from nothing is exempt, to everything other than deleted scenes is. And then others pointed out that the film's classification
applies to the whole DVD, so if it's an '18' then the extras can't be separately classified as they've got an '18' by default. What's more they couldn't imagine anyone complaining about any extras not having been classified (how would they know) but they
would complain if any of the extras went way beyond the film's classification. Of course none of them wanted me to quote them, on the grounds that only a judge could make any legal interpretations. But I did get the impression that, provided the
filmmakers included appropriate extras, they had more important things to be getting on with.
Right now, for the next few months, all this has been made irrelevant. But it is a golden opportunity to push for some sensible reforms, such as the introduction of 'unrated-18' which would bring us into line with the US as well as several other
Help for Small Circulation DVDs
27th August 2009. From John, see also www.myspace.com/julianmarshiii
An idea that may have appeal even to MPs who don't care about censorship issues...
If I make a film - or even want to release one from the decades ago - I have to obtain a certificate (except for a few special cases - innocuous documentaries and music videos). And that will cost me over £1,000 for a feature length film.
As a new and unknown film maker I may sell only 250 copies of my film (an adaptation of Shakespeare say - and not a Bard Nasty like TITUS ANDRONICUS but an innocuous tale like ROMEO AND JULIET with its street sword fights and under-age lust and...
well, maybe one of his other ones *grin*). That means £4 or more has to be added to the final sale price merely to pay the BBFC.
Isn't this a choke on creativity? But aren't we always being told that our creative industries are worth billions to the economy?
The VRA is quite clearly preventing limited interest productions from being seen. (This is as true for our cinematic heritage as it is for new titles. What, for example, is the expected sales figure for a DVD of a silent film, I wonder? Considering
the limited appeal, I'd imagine that the BBFC fee makes up a significant proportion of the cost of getting it to market.)
Offsite: Could the UK Video Recordings Act of 1984 get any more useless?
The bottom line is that criminal law needs to butt out of the cinema and home entertainment industries. If consenting participants in film productions emerge unharmed from the production process, then the resulting films would meet a revised,
forward-looking minimum legal threshold in future. (Whether they should go ahead on aesthetic or commercial grounds is a separate issue.) This latest humiliation for the Video Recordings Act 1984 should be a chance to wipe the tape clean and treat adult
viewers as adults.
Wikileaks has published a letter sent from UK Parliament Under Secretary Barbara Follett MP to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC.
The letter is dated 24th of August 2009 and is informing Public Prosecutions of an issue that has risen in relation to the Video Recordings Act 1984, which appears to be that offences under the Act are unenforceable, and existing
investigations should not be continued.
After explaining the situation, Follett in an obvious attempt to suppress a spreading public knowledge about this issue asks DPP to consider carefully what reasons are given to the court in relation to any discontinuations, fearing the market
could be flooded with unclassified DVDs.
Legislate in haste, repent at leisure — that, most assuredly, is the lesson of the really quite extraordinary news that the Video Recordings Act 1984 was never referred to the European Commission, was thus never officially enacted and now cannot be
The reason why the Act should have been referred to the European Commission is because it constitutes a restraint on intra-EU trade, in that it entails that videos/DVDs which have not been certificated by the BBFC cannot legally be imported from
another EU country and then sold or rented in the UK.
The DCMS has said that it has received legal advice that people who have been found guilty under the Act would be unable to overturn their convictions or seek compensation. But this is quite simply whistling in the dark.Keith Vaz is surely entirely
correct in asserting that if the Act has never been brought into force, prosecutions under it are void. You cannot prosecute someone and convict them on the basis of legislation that has never been in force. If I was one of the unfortunate victims
of this un-enacted Act, I would most certainly be consulting m'learned friends without further ado.
The government has made it clear that it intends to re-enact the legislation. However, rather than letting them simply rubber stamp this non-Act and proceed as if nothing has happened, would this not be the perfect opportunity to engage, finally, in a
sensible debate about video regulation, a debate which was quite impossible in the over-heated and febrile atmosphere of 1984 and 1994?
A Channel 4 life drawing programme which featured naked female models was acceptable lunchtime viewing, the television censor, Ofcom, has ruled.
37 viewers complained about the content of Life Class: Today's Nude , which was broadcast daily at 12.30pm over a week in July.
It was adult viewing, not for screening in the middle of the day, one viewer said after tuning in to the programme, in which artists guided students through various drawing techniques.
However, Ofcom rejected the complaints and ruled that Channel 4 did not breach broadcasting guidelines. The watchdog has written to every complainant explaining that the nudity was justified.
Life drawing is a well-known and respected form of art. In Ofcom's view, although the images of nudity were broadcast for long periods of time, they were not presented in a sexualised manner and were clearly justified by the context, given the
editorial purpose of the series, the letter read. The programme was broadcast during school term time and was not aimed at children, the watchdog said, adding that each episode was prefaced by a warning about its content.
Sounds bad, it will give his nasty mean minded government another chance to tinker Perhaps they could at least do something for the UK adult industry and let them sell R18s by mail order, no doubt with mandatory adult verification.
T he discovery of a Whitehall blunder means that the 1984 law regulating the video industry was never enacted.
The disclosure that for 25 years the Video Recordings Act governing the classification and sale of videos, video games and now DVDs was never brought into force is a big embarrassment to both Conservative and Labour governments.
It also leaves the industry in disarray with the classification system no longer officially in operation.
Police and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are to be told to stop bringing any prosecutions until the Government brings in emergency legislation to re-enact the 1984 Video Recordings Act. Until then people will be able to sell videos, including
violent and pornographic ones, to people without fear of prosecution.
The video industry was stunned by the Government's admission that the Act was not properly enacted 25 years ago. Officials in the Home Office had failed to notify the European Commission of the existence of the Act as they were required to do so
under an EU directive.
The mistake was not spotted on two subsequent occasions, in 1993 and 1994. It was finally discovered during plans to update the law and introduce a new video-game classification system.
Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture and Tourism, said last night: Unfortunately, the discovery of this omission means that, a quarter of a century later, the Video Recordings Act is no longer enforceable against individuals in United Kingdom
courts. In a letter to representatives of the video industry, Follett said: As the then British Government did not notify the European Commission of the VRA's classification and labelling requirements, they cannot now be enforced against
individuals in UK courts.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that it had received legal advice that people who had previously been prosecuted and convicted would be unable to overturn their convictions or seek compensation. [Sounds
like bollox to me, how can you not fail to overturn a conviction for a law that was not enacted].
The British Video Association said that it is urging members to continue submitting work to the British Board of Film Classification and to continue labelling them under the system.
The new wave snuff films (or rebirth of 70's uber violent films) are just not my taste... this movie is a prime example of these pointless torture movies, While in context the aspect of torture in a horror film i.e. Saw,
Hellraiser, Texas chainsaw (the original) etc... works great because it's bad people getting their come up-pence or just a cautionary of the cruelty of man but this film is just a fictionalized snuff film with no story what so ever. Watching people
getting brutally killed (particularly those who were just there) for the bulk of the movie then.... "the end" after some silly f/x does nothing for me except feeling a little dirty for watching this piece of trash.
If you a fan of Devils rejects, Vacancy and the like check it out but if you are like me a little and like at least a little mental stimulation with your gore fix skip this one.
The BBFC has rejected the DVD Grotesque. This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. The decision was taken by the Director, David Cooke and the Presidential Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Alison Hastings and
Grotesque is a feature that focuses for the majority of its running time on the sexual assault, humiliation and extreme torture of a male and female victim. The central character abducts, restrains, strips and masturbates both the man and the woman.
After this he inflicts grave injuries on the restrained couple, including amputation, eye gouging, castration and evisceration. The torture becomes even more extreme, leading to the gory and violent death of both hostages. The film ends with the killer
choosing his next victims.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: “Unlike other recent ‘torture' themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an
unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake.
“It is the Board's carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to Grotesque, even if statutorily confined to adults, would involve risk of harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, would be inconsistent with the Board's Guidelines,
and would be unacceptable to the public. The BBFC has a strict policy on sexual violence. With portrayals of sexual violence which might eroticise or endorse sexual assault the Board may require cuts at any classification level.
“Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the Board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts. However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work
is therefore refused a classification.”
“Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the Board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts. However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work
is therefore refused a classification.”
The Video Recordings Act makes clear that harm is not to be interpreted narrowly as behavioural harm, but may also include more insidious risks, and the Board follows this approach in having regard to, for instance, moral harm and possible
desensitisation. The correct legal definition of the harm test was clarified by Mr Justice Mitting in his ruling of 24 January 2008 at the High Court. In that ruling he stated that ‘The task of the Board [...] is to have special regard to any harm that
may in future be caused to potential viewers'. The Act also makes clear that harm is not the only issue to be weighed in the balance.
A spokesperson for the distributor, 4Digital Asia, expressed surprise at the outright rejection of the Grotesque , stating, We knew that the BBFC was debating the content of the film quite intensely but we had expected to receive from the
BBFC a list of recommended cuts enabling the film to be passed with an 18 certificate. We are now considering whether or not to appeal against the Board's decision.
Children could disappear from our television screens if the Government decides to press ahead with plans to tighten regulations covering their appearance in entertainment, broadcasters claim.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families is putting the finishing touches to proposals aimed at clarifying the rules governing reality shows such as Britain's Got Talent and Boys and Girls Alone , which campaigners claim can
cause children unnecessary distress.
The television industry is braced for a fierce battle with children's charities and the Government over the proposals, which will suggest that programme makers must obtain a licence from a local council virtually every time they want to include a
child in a television show. Councils also want the power to do spot checks on production sets.
The department originally intended to publish proposals last week, but last-minute submissions by broadcasters have forced it to delay. The head of one production company said: You've got a whole range of people who want a super-nanny state where
kids aren't even allowed to watch television, let alone work on it. This debate will be acrimonious, to say the least.
Legislation covering children in the entertainment industry, which has not been updated for more than 40 years, states that under-16s must be licensed if they take time out of school, or are paid, to “perform” — widely interpreted as singing, acting
While this already covers drama and talent shows, it is understood that the Government will suggest widening the licensing requirements to include factual programmes and reality shows. Broadcasters say that forcing them to apply for permission to
feature children in documentaries will give local authorities political powers to veto programmes they do not agree with.
Just what is it about sex that causes such apoplexy amongst the British managerial class?
The latest outbreak of prudery appears to have taken place at East Surrey College, where lecturer Simon Burgess faces disciplinary proceedings for having the effrontery to expose students on a level 3 photography course to the works of noted
international photographic artist, Del LaGrace Volcano.
The problem? Del LaGrace's work focuses on an exploration of transgender life and sexuality. Much of this work is wholly innocuous: some of it could be interpreted in a sexual context. The artist himself admits that the imagery contained in Love
Bites — one of the works that may have been displayed — is more focused on the erotic side of the scene than the bulk of his material.
From there it may be a short hop to deciding that the pictures are “pornographic” and “inappropriate” — and that any lecturer exposing young minds to such work may be guilty of misconduct.
Liverpool City Council are proposing to override the BBFC and award 18 cinema certificates to films showing tobacco smoking.
The 18 rating would not apply to films which portray historical figures who actually smoked or those which provide a clear and unambiguous portrayal of the dangers of smoking, other tobacco use, or second-hand smoke, the council said.
The proposal has been made to the authority's Licensing and Gambling Committee by Liverpool Primary Care Trust.
If the plans go ahead, cinemas and any other premises showing films would have to notify the council 21 days in advance if they intend to show films containing images of smoking.
Today, Liverpool council launched a public
consultation exercise on its website.
The BBFC is generally responsible for classifying films. However, under the Licensing Act 2003 local councils have statutory powers to classify or re-classify films to be exhibited in their particular areas. Although the government's guidance
concerning the Licensing Act 2003 recommends that local councils should not duplicate the work of the BBFC it does allow local councils to reclassify films if there are good local reasons for doing so.
A council's plans to bar under-18s from films with smoking sets us on a dangerous path, says Gerald Warner.
Send for the Sanity Inspector – quickly. There is work for him among the denizens of Liverpool city council. The council is proposing to use its powers to upgrade to an 18-certificate the classification of films "if they depict images of tobacco
smoking", in order to protect the vulnerable youth of Merseyside from exposure to such depravity.
Simon Singh announced today that he will continue the fight in his libel case with the British Chiropractic Association after his application to appeal the preliminary ruling was rejected last week. He has now has the option to try and overturn that
decision at an oral appeal. If this fails his case will be tried on a meaning of a phrase he did not intend and is indefensible. This highlights the problem of narrow defences that, along with high costs and wide jurisdiction, make the English libel laws
so restrictive to free speech.
Simon said today: I can confirm today that I have applied for a hearing to ask the Court of Appeal to reconsider its recent denial of permission. A great deal has happened since my original article was published back in April
2008 and I suspect that the libel case will continue for many more months (or maybe years). While my case is ongoing, it continues to raise a whole series of arguably more important issues, particularly the appalling state of English libel laws. I am
pleased that the Culture Secretary has agreed to meet with signatories of the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign statement to hear how the laws affect writers. We are also pursuing a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and with front benchers in
other departments to lobby for a change in the law.
The UK Libel Laws have taken another step into the abyss which signals the end of Free Speech as we know it. A UK based media club, The Groucho Club which is owned by a billion pound corporation Graphite Capital have launched a one of a kind High
Court action for a pre publishing test case for libel against the author of an expos book about the club.
The Author, Tyrone D Murphy, is writing a book titled The Groucho-Gate Affair . The book is now the subject of a pre publishing test case for a permanent injunction for libel. It is of interest to note that this book has not yet been
completed. Murphy said This frivolous legal action is nothing more than a blatant attempt to silence me and to intimidate me with the threat of costly legal action.
In recent years, similar cases have been described as the scourge of journalism and have set alarm bells ringing throughout media circles. Such cases are an attack on free speech. The current UK libel laws protect the rich and powerful from any form
of public scrutiny or investigation. Newspaper editors and writers now have to consider the costs of intimidating libel actions before they run a story. This undermines the whole role of the Press in our society and encourages self-censorship of articles
criticising the interests of the wealthy and the powerful.
This is a typical example of how the British Courts are being abused. Murphy says I cannot fathom why the Groucho Club, favoured haunt of many of my fellow journalists, would commence an action based purely on speculation of what might be written.
Tyrone D Murphy states that the expos deals with the management of the club and not with any of the members. Murphy is an award winning documentary and filmmaker, the editor of the newsletter Article 10 and a former electronic surveillance specialist
and was responsible for uncovering many illegal bugging operations in the UK. It is understood that the issue of electronic surveillance at the Groucho Club is a central issue in their case.
According to Murphy, the Groucho Club originally applied to the courts for an injunction but did not proceed with the original injunction application because he decimated their case. Now, the Groucho Club have used his defence to correct blunders in
their original case before instigating this new pre-publishing test case for libel. Murphy states This test case is based on what could be written and is the most ferocious attack on free speech in many years; it has wide reaching ramifications for all
writers and journalists alike
The comedy scene has become the latest arena for the God debate. A new wave of irreverent, atheist stand-ups are taking on the rise of religion.
With the mumbo-jumbo of alternative medicine nestling into previously sane minds and the garbled nonsense of Intelligent Design inching its way ever closer to British schools, beleaguered rationalists could be forgiven for thinking those days are
gone for good. Surprisingly, however, the vanguard of the Enlightenment's fightback includes a small group of young, bright and strangely lo-fi comedians - most of whom will be performing at this year's Edinburgh Fringe - based around an occasional
roaming comedy night called the School for Gifted Children.
The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, apologised for any offence caused after he used the word 'twat' during a breakfast radio show interview.
When Absolute Radio host Christian O'Connell asked him about his views on Twitter, the Tory leader said: The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it – too many twits might make a twat.
He compounded the slip-up when he said people were pissed off – sorry, I can't say that in the morning – angry with politicians.
While Cameron's aides pointed out that twat is not a swear word under radio guidelines and said he had apologised immediately for his latter comment, he later expressed contrition for his use of bad language.
You always have to be careful what you say. If I've caused any offence I obviously regret that, he told Sky News.
Today the Australian magazine Cosmos, along with a vast number of other blogs and publications, reprinted an article by Simon Singh, in slightly tweaked form, in an act of solidarity. The British Chiropractic Association has been suing Singh
personally for the past 15 months, over a piece in the Guardian where he criticised the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their
The BCA maintains that the efficacy of these treatments is well documented. Singh said that claims were made without sufficient evidence, described the treatments as "bogus", and criticised the BCA for "happily promoting" them. At
a preliminary hearing in May, to decide the meaning of this article, Mr Justice Eady ruled that Singh's wording implied the BCA was being deliberately dishonest. Singh has repeatedly been clear that he never intended this meaning, but has been forced to
defend this single utterance, out of his own pocket, at a cost that has run to six figures.
Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial . This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued
for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.
Beware the spinal trap
Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.
You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that '99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae'. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was
involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.
In fact, Palmer's first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by
correcting a displaced vertebra.
You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping
and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.
I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world's first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them
as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to
suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.
But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any
consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.
In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the
frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.
More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force.
Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.
Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is
usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has
certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.
Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at
the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and
died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: 'Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.'
This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a
major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher. If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost
certainly have been taken off the market.
Political correctness used to rule comedy, but now comics routinely offend their audiences. How did things get so nasty?
It's a Saturday night in north London, and a group of people are listening to one white man speak. First he suggests that all Muslim men are secretly gay. Next, he's using the n-word. Then he draws his eyes into slits to mock the Chinese. One woman
in the crowd has had enough. "You're awful," she says, leaving the room. "You're a disgrace." Soon, others join her; the man abuses them as they leave. The atmosphere is sour.
This is not an unruly seminar on racism, but comedy, 2009-style. It's a world where all the bigotries and the misogyny you thought had been banished forever from mainstream entertainment have made a startling comeback. Tonight's comic is San
Francisco comedian Scott Capurro, and his routine is not unusual in the taboo-teasing world of 21st-century standup. Before the gig, I ask Capurro how he feels about routinely offending his audience. "It's great," he says. "I'm not friends
with my audience. I'll never see them again. If they want to fight, they can have one with me. How often does an audience get the chance to stand up and say, 'You are fucked up'? It's so exciting – it's a conversation."
On Monday I was astounded to read an article by Brian Logan in this very paper in which he wrote, and I quote, that "racists have a point". I never thought I'd live to see such a hateful opinion expressed by a Guardian journalist and was
Actually, I'm not being entirely fair. The piece read: "This year veteran comic Richard Herring is sporting a Hitler moustache for his show Hitler Moustache, in which he argues that 'racists have a point'." So it wasn't Logan who said it.
It was me. I knew that all along, and yet I wilfully took the line out of context in order to be sensationalist. What a cheap and shoddy tactic: you'd expect that in a tabloid perhaps, but the Guardian?
Pig Business is an expose of US industrial pig farming conglomerate Smithfield Foods. It has met with repeated attempts at censorship by the company's lawyers.
Filmmaker Tracy Worcester explains how England's libel laws have helped stall the film's general release, and stopped the world learning more about the environmental realities of intensive livestock rearing.
After a showing of my film, Pig Business, at the Royal Society of Arts on 13th November 2008, Channel 4, which was scheduled to broadcast the film in the New Year, received two letters from lawyers acting for the main focus in
the film, Smithfield Foods of America, the world's biggest pig producer and processor.
Fearing the legal might of a $12 billion company threatening to sue, Channel 4 pulled my film just before broadcast on February 3rd 2009. To prepare for the worst, Channel 4 made changes to accord with England's business-friendly libel laws and the
UK TV's fairness standards, administered by OFCOM. Despite a further two threatening letters, Channel 4 broadcast the film on its More 4 channel on June 30th.
In the US, the Constitution's First Amendment enshrines free speech as a right. So, if you allege in good faith that a public company is causing harm, as long as the allegations are not made maliciously, the company has to prove that it has not
caused the harm. In England however, the burden of proof is reversed. The person making the allegation has to prove their case with scientific analyses, court judgments or credible witnesses.
Not even the tabloids are immune from Smithfield's threatening letters: both The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard have received warning letters for reporting about the film.
On the day of a showing at the Barbican arts centre in London on 27 May 2009, Smithfield's lawyers told the Barbican's management that the film was 'defamatory'. As a result, the audience was made to wait half an hour while the
executive producer and myself were told that the showing would only go ahead if we signed a document agreeing to indemnify the Barbican.
Putting it on my website would apparently expose me to Smithfield's litigation in every jurisdiction. So the message will have to be spread guerrilla-style - i.e. below Smithfield's radar. For another nine days, the film will be on Channel 4's web
site. It is also available free of charge to anyone who wishes to give a private screening.
Just what is it with petty bureaucracy and art? Are unelected officials uneasy with matters that cannot be precisely codified and tick-boxed to death? Or do they really believe that all culture must be shoe-horned into a lowest common denominator one
size fits all family model?
Last week, it was Wigan's turn to hit the headlines, as Tory councillor and opposition leader Michael Winstanley laid into a photography exhibition, entitled Fetish Rocks. He claims to be "quite frankly, shocked".
He goes on:
They talk about this being an example of cultural diversity but as far as I am concerned this is nothing more than pornography. I don't think that this is appropriate for the town centre. We should be looking to attract families
into Wigan, not weirdos.
Sterling stuff – which might be deserving of a little more serious attention had Winstanley seen the exhibition, spoken to the organiser, or in any way attempted to get to grips with what the exhibition was about.
Google is not the publisher of defamatory words that appear in its search results, the High Court has ruled. Even when Google had been told that its results contained libellous words, it was not liable as a publisher, said Mr Justice Eady.
The search giant's US and UK operations were sued in England by a London-based training business over comments about its distance learning courses that appeared in the forum of a US website. The comments were said to be defamatory and an excerpt from
them could be found in Google's search results.
Metropolitan International Schools Ltd (MIS) runs distance learning courses in games development under the name 'Train2Game'.
In addition to suing Google it is also suing US company Designtechnica Corporation, which runs reviews website Digital Trends. The user forums on that site contained a thread that comprised 146 postings across 15 pages, calling the Train2Game courses
nothing more than a scam .
MIS said that when it searched for the term "Train2Game" at Google.co.uk and Google.com, results for the Train2Game thread were returned as the third and fourth results for a period of three weeks preceding the date of its lawsuit. They
included the snippet of text: Train2Game new SCAM for Scheidegger . MIS used to trade as Scheidegger MIS and it said that this snippet of text was defamatory.
Google argued that its UK operation, Google UK Ltd, should not be a party to the action because: its employees do not have access to any of the technology used to operate and control google.com and google.co.uk which are owned and operated by
Google said that Google Inc. should be sued in California, not England. But even if England is the proper forum, it argued, Google has no responsibility for the words complained of, and therefore there is no reasonable prospect of success which is a requirement of rules on serving lawsuits outside the court's jurisdiction.
The appropriate question here, perhaps, is whether [Google Inc.] should be regarded as a mere facilitator in respect of the publication of the 'snippet' and whether, in particular, that would remain a proper interpretation even after the date of
notification, wrote Mr Justice Eady.
He concluded that Google was a mere facilitator. The Bunt case, also heard by Mr Justice Eady, confirmed that mere facilitators, like telephone carriers, are generally not liable for defamatory content.
David Gregory and Carl Daft are known to many as the guys who have made some of the best DVD extras around. Over the years they have worked with some of the film world's most famous names and now they have set up their own company, Severin Films, to
distribute the films that they love. Below is an interview conducted with them from the recent Cannes Film Festival.
With the advent of multi region players available for less then £20 and nearly everyone having access to the Internet, do you think institutions like the BBFC and MPAA will ever become defunct?
Carl Daft : The BBFC are first and foremost a business, not a public servant. They'll figure out a way to financially ream the UK film industry for years to come under deceptive pretences. Even though they have
become much better censorially in the last few years, they are still ripping off the industry and ensuring that the little guy gets screwed, leaving the industry in the hands of the big guys. Whereas in America the MPAA is a voluntary institution so you
can choose not to use their ratings system. We choose not to.
How is your relationship with the BBFC considering the kind of material you release and hope to release. Is it better than the Ferman era?
Carl Daft : Yes, the Ferman era was a dark period in UK film history. Check out Ban The Sadist Videos! It was a minor version of the McCarthy era in the US. Ok, so it wasn't quite as extreme, but you have to
remember this was in the last 30 years! We have it on good authority that BTSV is shown to new BBFC employees these days as an educational tool to warn against going down that road again. That's got to be a good thing. But it's also annoying that we went
to great trouble and expense to take on the BBFC in the post-Ferman era over Last House On The Left and lost the right to release it uncut. Then three years later it's passed uncut for another company. Could UK society have changed that much in 3
years that 30 seconds of footage was considered dangerous then but 3 years later it's ok? A perfect example of how absurd the BBFC is and how it interferes with the business of small companies like ours.
David Gregory : The sooner they close their doors for good, the better. Thanks to new technologies the writing has to be on the wall. It will be a great day for the UK industry when they cease to be. Or at least
become voluntary and/or free of charge. As it stands right now you have to be wealthy to release a film in England. If you've made your own film without a budget, it is illegal to distribute it in the UK without paying what I call the BBFC tax. That's
outrageous. A complete violation of artists' rights.
UK cinema-goers are to be presented with two alternative versions of hit comedy film Bruno from Friday, 24 July.
A 15-rated edit of the movie will be distributed alongside the original MPAA cut version, which has an 18 certificate.
It is the first time alternate versions of a film have been released in the UK at the same time.
Universal Pictures said it had re-cut the film after cinemas reported turning away large numbers of teenagers during the opening weekend.
Only 1 minute 50 seconds had been lost from the original, it said.
Sacha Baron Cohen's mock documentary went straight to number one in the US this weekend. It is expected to achieve a similar feat in the UK, despite its restrictive certificate.
Universal said the movie had taken an estimated £5m at the UK and Ireland box office since it opened on 12 July. If that figure is verified, Bruno will have achieved the biggest opening weekend of all time for an 18-rated film.
The BBFC commented about the 15 rated version Snipped version of Brüno:
This film was originally shown to the BBFC in an unfinished version. The BBFC advised the company that the film was likely to receive an '18' classification but that the requested '15' certificate could be achieved by making
changes to three scenes. In particular the BBFC suggested that the company remove the majority of a montage of exaggerated sexual activity between Bruno and his boyfriend; Bruno comically miming fellatio and anilingus as he pretends to have oral sex with
a deceased person with whom he is in contact through a medium; and sex between couples at a swingers' party and aggressive sexual dialogue at the same party. When this version of the feature was submitted these changes had been made and the film was
classified '15'. A previous version of the feature was submitted without these changes and was classified at '18'.
The Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over its attempt to repeal a free speech protection from a sexual orientation 'hatred' law.
Peers voted by 186 to 133 to keep the protection in place. The matter will be passed back to the House of Commons where MPs voted for repeal.
The protection makes clear that criticising homosexual conduct or encouraging people to refrain from such conduct is not a crime.
The Government says the protection is not necessary, insisting that the homophobic hatred offence would not catch the expression of such beliefs.
Mike Judge, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, said: Genuine supporters of free speech will be pleased with this result. Democracy depends on the freedom of people to challenge ideas, to dispute with each other, to contend for what
they believe. Too many Christians have already been intimidated by over-zealous police action because they gave voice to their views on sexual ethics. Surely the world is big enough to allow all sides to express their beliefs about sexual behaviour
without fearing a knock on the door from the police. [But I wonder of he is so keen to defend free speech when it is religion that is being criticised]
It has come up a few times that people are prosecuted for posts on foreign sites. The UK claims jurisdiction over activities 'controlled' by individuals or companies residing in the the UK. If someone is living in the UK and 'controls' a website
hosted abroad then they are liable for prosecution in the UK over the contents or activities of that website.
It is difficult to make much sense of the sentence without knowing how it is broken down. Nor is it clear what material was being posted, but the description 'insulting' is a bit mild sounding.
Two men have been jailed after becoming the first in the UK to be convicted of inciting racial hatred via a foreign website.
Simon Sheppard received four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle two years and four months. The men printed leaflets and controlled US websites featuring racist material.
They fled to the US after being convicted at Leeds Crown Court last year, but failed in an asylum bid.
Sheppard was found guilty of 11 offences and Whittle was found guilty of five offences at a trial in July last year. Sheppard was convicted of a further five charges in January 2009.
Leeds Crown Court was told Whittle wrote offensive articles that were then published on the internet by Sheppard. The published material included images of murdered Jews alongside cartoons and articles ridiculing ethnic groups.
Judge Rodney Grant said: These are serious offences. I can say without any hesitation that I have rarely seen, or had to read or consider, material which is so abusive and insulting... towards racial groups within our own society.
The investigation into Sheppard began when a complaint about a leaflet, called Tales of the Holohoax , was reported to police in 2004 after it was pushed through the door of a synagogue in Blackpool. It was traced back to a post office box in
Hull registered to Sheppard. Humberside Police later found a website featuring racially inflammatory material.
The pair thought that they could circumvent English law because their website was hosted in the US.
This looks like a outlawing of holocaust denial via the back door.
It also is a tightening up on existing standards of freedom of expression. The moment you voice anything abusive or insulting you're taking a step closer to jail.
Billy Connelly, Frankie Boyle and Roy Chubby Brown better take note. They are inches away from being outlawed.
I'm sorry, but in my mind's eye, we're hitting a serious wall here.
Just recently we've had a guy sentenced to one and a half years of supervision and re-education meetings for being curious about an aspect of bizarre adult sexuality.
Now we've just had a guy sentenced to four and a half years in jail for not liking Jews and saying as much.
I have at times myself been the man with the wrong face and name in the wrong place, so I'm no friend to prejudice and xenophobia of any kind. But I've always understood that the price of freedom is to let those of an opposing opinion speak. This
includes narrow-minded people with little more than hate between their ears.
Yet it seems these days - especially with this government - argument is being closed down (just look what they allow for debate in the commons!) and instead bans and prohibitions are the preferred norm. Who needs Perikles or
Cicero if you can just ban anyone from making wrong choices?
I really think we are witnesses to something very bad happening here, people.
Baroness O'Cathain is a Tory Lord. According to Wikipedia she is Irish born convent educated Catholic: She is known for her socially conservative views, in particular her efforts to retain the ban on same-sex couples from adopting, and has taken
on a leadership role in the movement after the death of Lady Young.
She has proposed a couple of amendments to teh Dangerous Cartoons clause of the Coroners & Injustice Bill which criminalises the possession of pornographic cartoons depicting under 18s.
O'Cathain firstly suggests the removal of the clause giving people protection from prosecution from material approved by the BBFC.
Secondly she proposes a new clause:
Possession of extreme pornographic writings
(1) It is an offence for a person to be in possession of extreme pornographic writing.
(2) "Extreme pornographic writing" is writing which is both—
(a) pornographic, and
(b) extreme writing.
(3) Writing is "pornographic" if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
(4) Where (as found in the person's possession) the writing forms part of a series of writings, the question whether the writing is of such a nature as is mentioned in subsection (3) is to be determined by reference to—
(a) the writing itself, and
(b) (if the series of writings is such as to be capable of providing a context for the writing) the context in which it occurs in the series of writings.
(5) So, for example, where—
(a) the writing forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of writings, and
(b) having regard to those writings as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal, the writing may, by virtue of being part of that
narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.
(6) "Extreme writing" is writing which—
(a) falls within subsection (7), and
(b) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
(7) Writing falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following—
(a) an act which threatens a person's life,
(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or
(d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive), and a reasonable person looking at the writing would think that any portrayal of such person or animal was realistic.
(8) In this section "writing" means written words (including but not limited to those published or otherwise available on the internet), books, leaflets or other printed matter.
(9) In this section references to a part of the body include references to a part surgically constructed (in particular through gender reassignment surgery).
(10) Proceedings for an offence under this section may not be instituted—
(a) in England and Wales, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions; or
(b) in Northern Ireland, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland."
Such was the interest in the suicide amendment that debate dragged on well past the point when their Lordships usually adjourned for their supper. House business, which usually takes place at half seven, was delayed until twenty past eight, when a
stampede of hungry Lords headed for their canteen. Debate on the Coroners' Bill did not resume until an hour later.
Sadly for the Baroness, New Labour reforms to the way parliament works means that the Lords now shut up shop at 10 pm – and debate on amendments cannot carry on between sessions without prior agreement between parties. Although not the case in this
instance, the streamlining of parliamentary business through excess guillotining of debate has been bitterly resisted by opposition parties, who claim that important legislation is now passed with little or no formal scrutiny.
The Baroness' amendment was eventually called at three minutes to ten – at which point she appears to have decided it was not worth putting, and did not stand up to propose it.
Conservative leader David Cameron has said that he would remove media regulator Ofcom's policy-making powers if the party were to win at the next General Election.
In a speech to the Reform think tank, Cameron laid out his plans to reduce the number of quangos, should he become Prime Minister.
The plans include scrapping Ofcom and the Qualifications, Curriculum and Development Agency (QCDA), in order to cut costs.
The Conservative leader said: The problem today is that too many state actions, services and decisions are carried out by people who cannot be voted out by the public, by organisations that feel no pressure to answer for what happens in a way that
is completely unaccountable.
He said that some powers would be handed back to Ministers, with some quangos being reformed and slimmed down, while others - including Ofcom - would cease to exist in their current form.
The policy-making functions of Ofcom - such as deciding the future of local news and Channel 4 - would be handed back to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
In an interview with BBC Breakfast, Cameron said: Give Ofcom, or give a new body, the technical function of handing out the licences and regulating lightly the content that is on the screens. But it shouldn't be making policy, it shouldn't have
its own communications department.
Research was commissioned by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in September 2008 to provide the following insights and information:
An up-to-date picture of the public's awareness of the IWF and its work
Public perceptions of issues associated with the IWF and its role
To enable an evaluation of IWF awareness campaigns
To explore public opinion on wider issues outside the IWF's specific role including online content, behaviours, and criminal activity as well as key concerns such as freedom of information
This report is based on 1,000 interviews with adult men and women in the UK as a representative and significant sample of UK adult internet users.
2. Just over one quarter of respondents (27%) describe the principle of “freedom of information” on the internet as vitally important and two thirds (65%) say it is at least very important. Most of the remainder think it is quite important and only 7%
say it is not important.
4. 17% of all respondents say they use the internet for adult content websites; more men (27%) than women (8%).
7. 55%, rising to 67% of male respondents, consider pornography on the internet to be legal. Only 13% of all respondents and 19% of male respondents consider very extreme/violent pornography to be legal.
17. 28% of respondents, rising to 31% of men and 35% of those aged over 65, are aware of the recent changes in the law making it illegal to possess very extreme pornography, such as that featuring animals or extreme violence.
19. Women (30%) are twice as likely as men (15%) to want adult websites removed from the internet as are over 65 year olds (33%) compared with 18-24 year olds (16%). 23% overall think adult sites should be removed from the internet.
20. Few respondents have definitely heard of the IWF or know them well (4%). 19% recall hearing the name.
The distributors of Bruno have just cut a quip or two about Michael Jackson. LaToya Jackson makes an appearance in the film and this generates a couple of references to Michael.
The BBFC write:
Re-edited version, Following the death of pop star Michael Jackson, the company chose to remove a sequence involving the star's sister, LaToya, which includes references to her late brother. Otherwise, the work remains identical
to the previously classified '18' version.
The BBFC have also kindly explained their decision to award an 18 certificate:
BRUNO is a satirical comedy in which Sacha Baron Cohen plays gay Austrian fashion show presenter Bruno, who falls into disgrace and travels to the States in an attempt to achieve fame. This film was classified '18' in accordance
with BBFC Guidelines, for strong sex and strong sex references. At '15', the Guidelines state that 'sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour'. Both the scenes of strong sex and
the sex references were considered by the Board to go beyond the '15' level, but acceptable at the adult '18' category. There are three strong sex scenes in the film. The first one features a montage of exaggerated sexual activity, including Bruno being
anally penetrated by a dildo on a long rod attached to an exercise bike, which his boyfriend is pedalling. Other details include implied anal penetration with a fire extinguisher hose, as well as with a champagne bottle, and sight of a vacuum pump being
used on Bruno's scrotum. The second shows Bruno comically miming fellatio and anilingus as he pretends to have oral sex with a deceased person with whom he is in contact through a medium, while the third scene features sex between couples at a swingers'
party, with sexual detail obscured.
The film also contains some uses of strong language.
It started with Star Trek fans writing stories about a Kirk/Spock love affair, and it quickly became a craze. Fantasy fiction, or fanfic websites now attract contributions from large numbers of obsessive fans, and new genres are emerging at
a remarkable rate: slash fanfic focuses on gay relationships (the Lord of the Rings characters provide particularly fertile ground), with femslash for lesbian characters; and then there's real person popslash , where the unlucky
subjects are celebrities in the music business.
One popslash fantasy came to public attention this week when, most unusually, its author found himself in court. Darryn Walker's writing is darker than most. The 35-year-old former civil servant's story, a 12-page article called Girls (Scream)
Aloud , depicted the kidnap, rape and murder of each member of girl band Girls Aloud by their coach driver.
The BBFC defines its purpose as being to protect children – anyone under 18 – from unsuitable material. This may be all well and good when it comes to films on general release, or on sale at supermarket checkouts. But over 90% of these films are
American productions (some with English actors and storylines) and at least six% of the rest are French productions from either Pathe or Gaumont.
Basically British independent films don't get a look in because UK distributors simply can't afford the marketing spends which the multiplex chains demand before they'll consider booking a film. The result is that these films only get screened in
specialised cinemas and arts centres which under 18s don't go to, and the DVD's are mainly sold via the internet to 18+ credit card holders. In short the BBFC is not 'protecting' anyone from these films.
The publication of a book by a former top counter-terrorism officer has been blocked by the Attorney General.
Baroness Scotland obtained an injunction preventing The Terrorist Hunters from hitting the shelves as planned today.
The book, by the retired Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Andy Hayman and the former BBC home affairs correspondent Margaret Gilmore, focused on the struggle against terrorism since the July 7 attacks. It also looked at the murder of the Russian
dissident Alexander Litvinenko and gave a glimpse of top-level political and intelligence work.
The reasons behind the injunction cannot be published for legal reasons. Sources said it had been vetted by the Cabinet Office, MI5 and MI6.
Darryn Walker has suffered unemployment and vilification for writing a pornographic story. The censorious obscenity law that allows this to happen must be scrapped, say John Ozimek and Julian Petley
Authors across the UK breathed a sigh of relief on Monday, as a landmark prosecution for obscenity was dropped at the eleventh hour. The importance of this case cannot be underestimated. The alternative, a world in which this prosecution had gone
ahead and succeeded, would have changed the nature of the Internet (and publishing) in the UK for years to come.
For almost 30 years, one of the classic comedy films has been unofficially banned in Glasgow, after it was branded blasphemous by councillors on its release.
Monty Python's Life of Brian will finally get a screening after it was granted a licence by the city council – the last of 39 across the UK that imposed the initial ban.
The stars of the film, including Michael Palin, John Cleese and Terry Jones, will be invited to a special screening at the Glasgow Film Theatre in September.
In sharp contrast to the furore of 29 years ago, the city council's licensing committee did not receive a single objection to the application heard yesterday.
The move was welcomed by film experts for bringing an end to a cinematic anachronism.
Allison Gardner, head of cinemas at the GFT, said: The film has been widely available to the general public on video and DVD and has been screened on terrestrial television. None of these events has caused widespread offence, or in any way
destroyed the sanctity of the Church or undermined its place in our wider society. I believe the film is seen as an affectionate and inspired depiction of the life of Jesus from a perspective that is humorous, rather than blasphemous.
But Christian nutters said the decision to grant the film a 15 certificate was a reflection of declining standards in society, and called it a sad day.
Stephen Green, director of the radical campaign group Christian Voice, which has organised protests against shows such as Jerry Springer: The Opera , said: We know Glasgow was the last place in the country to keep the ban in place, as the
only other area, Aberystwyth, had a screening a couple of months ago. It is a bit of a shame it's now been granted a licence in Glasgow, but it shows how much we have let standards slip.
Comment: Scotland 'Rogered'
6th July 2009, thanks to Chris
Life of Brian was shown on the welsh language channel S4C when it was banned in Swansea and Aberystwyth sure that the same would be the case in Scotland being it was shown on channel 4.
That Walker was cleared is not surprising. It was a ridiculous charge to bring in the first place. But it also testifies to the obsolescence of the Obscene Publications Act itself, a piece of nineteenth-century legislation that rests upon a perception
that some people are incapable of dealing with certain material without being adversely affected in some way.
As the dust settles on the Girls (Scream) Aloud trial, what are the implications for the future of obscenity law in the UK?
In the short term, the answer has to be not much . Had the trial produced a guilty verdict, then much would have changed.
It would have been the first successful prosecution of written material under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA) in over 30 years: it would have succeeded in respect of material that, however apparently appalling, is not that much more extreme
than hundreds – thousands, even – of similar works on and off the internet.
The door would have been open to a slew of similar prosecutions: more importantly, it would have had a serious chilling effect, putting on guard any budding writer thinking of dealing with the cruder, rawer side of erotic life.