Origin Story – How Myles Jackman became Obscenity Lawyer


Edward Docx has written a significant account of Myles Jackman’s life and career for the Guardian newspaper. Myles Jackman is a pro bono legal adviser to Backlash. Docx’s story includes an account of the Simon Walsh trial. Walsh’s acquittal represented a powerful challenge to the extreme pornography ban and the Crown Prosecution Service’s approach to obscenity:

Fisting was Jackman’s next focus. His second big trial of 2012 involved Simon Walsh, a barrister and aide to Boris Johnson (and thus further high-profile case material for the campaign). Walsh had been charged with five counts of possession of extreme pornography under the 2008 act: three images of urethral sounding (the insertion of surgical rods into the urethra for the purpose of sexual gratification) and two of anal fisting. Fisting – the insertion of the hand into the vagina or anus – had long been a casus belli for Jackman for two reasons. First, because – “inexplicably” – it remains legal to do but not to film. (Only once an image exists is the law broken.) And second, because fisting is a political subject for feminist and queer film-makers, many of whom are Jackman’s friends.

On this specific point, Jackman referred me to Pandora Blake, a feminist producer who runs a porn website, Dreams of Spanking, where she sells her films. Blake believes that the regulations on fisting “explicitly and disproportionately target” the LGBTQ and the feminist porn community. “Fisting is an act that is absolutely essential to a lot of queer sex,” she explained to me. “It’s not phallic, it’s very much associated with queer history and is a huge part of feminist porn. So for fisting to be banned means lots of feminist porn is banned.”

In another extract, Jackman explains how ordinary members of the public typically become targets for police investigation and prosecution, and why relative ignorance of this complex, subjective legislation enhances the power of authorities:

Most people have no idea what the law regarding their computers and pornography is – “Why would they?” – and Jackman is at pains to emphasise that, in case after case, the police are using the 2008 act to prosecute people originally investigated for other charges. When the new law came into force, the justice ministry estimated it would lead to about 30 prosecutions a year. In reality, there have been nearly 800 a year – and more than 5,500 prosecutions in total, according to Backlash, a campaign group for the rights of adults to participate in all consensual sexual activities. [new figures suggest prosecutions now stand closer to 1,500 a year]

(Note the picture of Myles as Pikachu in the background is by Bristol-based artist Penny Tristram)