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Monday, 26 September 2011

CHILD PORN Retailed by Amazon & Waterstones' - SUNDAY TIMES

CHILD PORN Retailed by Amazon & Waterstones' - SUNDAY TIMES

Book stores halt child porn laws

At least one criminal case has collapsed this year after the Appeal Court ruled that nothing could be done if retailers stocked images

Daniel Foggo and Martin Foley Published: 18 September 2011
  • Waterstone’s and Amazon sell books that some argue are child pornography (Jack Hill) 
Waterstone’s and Amazon sell books that some argue are child pornography (Jack Hill) Some of Britain’s biggest book retailers are undermining criminal cases against alleged paedophiles by selling photographic volumes which are officially classed as child pornography. Waterstone’s and Amazon both advertise books containing images labelled as child porn by police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and juries.
The continued sale of the books has led to the collapse of at least one criminal case this year against a man accused of having an interest in child sex.
Appeal Court judges ruled that as long as mainstream book retailers supplied the images it was wrong to pursue individual members of the public. Despite the judges’ suggestion that a criminal case be brought against the retailers or publishers, no action has yet been taken.
The anomaly emerged as a result of a successful appeal by Stephen Neal, who was last year convicted of five counts of possessing indecent images of children.
The photographs appeared in three books, The Age of Innocence by David Hamilton, At Twelve by Sally Mann and Notes by Jock Sturges. The authors are known for producing books that often feature naked pictures of young people.
Possessing photographs by Hamilton, 78, born in London, has been considered grounds for prosecution in Britain since 2005. His photographs have led to prosecutions in the United States where images by Mann and Sturge, both Americans, have also created controversy.
In the 1990s an attempt in the United States to bring a prosecution against a leading bookstore for selling works by Mann and Sturges collapsed after doubts that they constituted child porn. All three books featured in the Neal case are available through the official websites of Waterstone’s and Amazon, a fact noted by the judges presiding at his appeal.
Neal, who was sentenced to a community order after his conviction, appealed on the grounds that the jury had been misdirected and had been prejudiced against him by the details of another charge of which he was acquitted.
The Appeal Court agreed, saying jurors had been relying on their own “subjective” views as to whether the images were obscene rather than having been directed to apply the “objective standard of right-thinking people”.
In their ruling in February the judges said: “That is all the more important where one is considering photographs in books that are widely available through respectable retail outlets.” They said a retrial was “not in the interests of justice”, adding: “If it is wished to test whether the photographs in the books are indecent, the right way of dealing with the matter is by... prosecution of the publisher or retailer, not of an individual purchaser.”
The CPS said: “This would be a matter for the police to investigate and pass a file of evidence to the CPS if they thought a criminal offence had been committed.
“As a prosecuting authority it is not for the CPS to advise retailers and/or publishers about what they should sell or publish.”
Waterstone’s said it was not aware of ever having been approached by the police over the books. “Waterstone’s policy on censorship is to only remove books from sale, in store or on the website on the advice of the police or the publisher,” the company said.
Amazon failed to respond to inquiries from The Sunday Times last week but Tesco, which did not advertise any of the books involved in the Neal case, said it would remove another title by Mann. WH Smith ceased selling Hamilton’s Age of Innocence, which sold 50,000 copies in Britain alone, six years ago.
Michele Elliott, founder of the children’s charity Kidscape, said: “If you really believe that these things are wrong and obscene and against the law, then you don’t just sit back and pick people off and say, ‘We’ll get 10 people over here’, when if you got to the publishers and the people who are retailing it then you stop it going out to thousands and you send a clear message.” 
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1 comment:

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