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Violent porn crackdown

Possession loophole to be closed

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The family of a woman murdered by a man obsessed with violent internet pornography won their battle for government action today as Ministers announced new legislation to crack down on extreme material.

Jane Longhurst, a 31-year-old Brighton schoolteacher, was found strangled on Wiggonholt Common in West Sussex in April 2003. During the following trial, jurors heard how her killer Graham Coutts, from nearby Hove, had spent hours viewing strangulation fetish sites.

Jane Longhurst's mother Liz, last year presented Parliament with a petition carrying 50,000 names calling for a ban on owning violent pornography.

The 1959 Obscene Publications Act already makes it illegal to produce or publish extreme imagery.

The new laws, announced today, will be designed to close the loophole surrounding possession.

After consultation the Home Office said it would press ahead with legislation to make possessing such material a criminal offence.

Minister Vernon Croaker said: "By banning the possession of such material the government is sending out a strong message - that it is totally unacceptable and those who access it will be held to account."

Liz Longhurst said: "My daughter Sue and myself are very pleased that after 30 months of intensive campaigning we have persuaded the government to take action against these horrific internet sites, which can have such a corrupting influence and glorify extreme sexual violence."

The move has concerned civil liberties groups, however. The BBC reports that Libertarian Alliance director Shaun Gabb said: "If you are criminalising possession then you are giving police inquisitorial powers to come into your house and see what you've got, now we didn't have this in the past."

The government said it will introduce the new laws as soon as parliamentary time allows. ®

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