Obscenity law expert fears CPS using porn laws to persecute gay men
The CPS is targeting gay men for looking at legal adult pornography, an
experienced defence solicitor warns. The Crown Prosecution Service
pursued a gay man for possession of alleged indecent pornographic images
over a 580-day ordeal. They continued long after the man’s defence
produced conclusive evidence that all participants in the pornographic
images were of legal age of consent.
The charges were finally dismissed when solicitor advocate Myles Jackman,
Backlash legal adviser and expert in obscenity law, proved to
prosecutors there was no case to answer. Wrongfully accused of viewing
images of child abuse, the defendant suffered severe psychological harm
and disruption to his life. This could have been avoided had the CPS
taken a more common-sense approach to what was easy to establish as
legitimate adult gay pornography.
The false charges related to an incident in September 2011, when the
defendant stayed overnight for a conference and used a computer provided
in his bedroom to browse gay pornography. These images, of young-looking
adult men, often known as ‘twink porn’ within the gay community, were
discovered by a subsequent guest using the same room and reported.
Myles Jackman, Backlash legal advisor and advocate at Hodge Jones & Allen
solicitors, used forensic experts to establish the age of all actors in
the images. However, this was not sufficient to bring the prosecution to
a halt. The CPS continued to pursue the case long after receiving
conclusive evidence that all the images were legitimate gay adult
pornography, and not of child abuse. In Jackman’s opinion, these actions
could amount to a ‘homophobic witch-hunt’.
Badly written anti-sex laws encourage discrimination
Jackman has defended several gay men on allegations relating to their
sexual identity. Charges have been made under the Obscene Publications
Act, possession of so-called ‘extreme pornography’, and alleged indecent
In each case, the prosecution has either been thrown out before trial, or
rejected by the jury on hearing the evidence. This suggests that the
CPS’s charging decisions regarding possession and distribution of
pornography are significantly out of step with what the general public
consider to be criminal acts. The minority status of the defendants
suggests that the CPS is targeting gay men for disproportionate scrutiny
of their private sex lives. Even defendants eventually found innocent
face having their most intimate sexual interests revealed and shamed in
a public court.
Urgent action is necessary to prevent badly written legislation and poor
charging procedures from discriminating against gay people and offering
a state-sanction to hatred of sexual minorities.
The CPS’s pattern of victimisation
Michael Peacock (#ObscenityTrial) – sex worker, prosecuted for
distributing gay fisting pornography. Found not guilty by jury in
Southwark Crown Court in January 2012.
Simon Walsh (#Porntrial) – former aide to Mayor Boris Johnson and
barrister specialising in police misconduct. Prosecuted for possession
of images of a private adult sex party, in which he was a participant.
Found not guilty by jury in Kingston Crown Court in August 2012.
#TwinkTrial – A gay man of high professional standing, charged by CPS in
November 2012 with possessing pornographic images of alleged underage
participants. Case dismissed months after evidence of no underage
participants shown, 1 November 2013.
Myles Jackman, criminal defence solicitor: 07791 436100
Backlash – firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
- Backlash is an umbrella campaign providing academic campaigning and legal resources in the defence of freedom of sexual expression.
- Myles Jackman specialises in sexual obscenity cases and is the legal adviser to Backlash. He was made Junior Lawyer of the Year by the Law Society in 2012. He blogs as Obscenity Lawyer.
- Myles Jackman’s commentary on the case has been published by The Independent.