Feeds

Girls Aloud obscenity trial delayed

Legal arms race holds things up

The essential guide to IT transformation

Readers expecting the long-awaited and landmark "Girls Aloud" obscenity trial to start last week in Newcastle will have to wait a little longer.

Last year Darryn Walker, a 35-year-old civil servant from South Shields was charged with publishing obscene material in respect of a story he posted up on the alt sex story repository (NSFW). This included descriptions of the brutal rape and subsequent murder of well-known girl group Girls Aloud.

A member of the public reported his story to the Internet Watch Foundation, who passed the matter on to the police. They, in turn, investigated and decided to recommend a prosecution be brought.

The significance of this case is that although a number of prosecutions are brought each year under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, the proportion of prosecutions that focus solely on written material is very small. As far as we are aware, the last time written material featured in court was in respect of Lord Horror, back in 1991: the last and possibly only time a charge of obscenity was upheld against purely written material was in the case of the Little Red Schoolbook in the early 1970s.

If a not guilty verdict is returned, matters will continue much as they are now: there exists a law that may be used against written obscenity, but it is virtually unused and unusable. On the other hand, if a guilty verdict is returned, everything will change: for starters, any would-be porn writer, based in the UK, and writing stories that attract tags such as "rape" or "paedophilia" (or even "necrophilia" or "bestiality") will be looking over their shoulders for some time to come.

UK regulation of the internet could extend much more broadly into the written word - some mainstream authors, particularly those who have made a career out of the violent end of the "crime procedural" novel, might also reconsider some of their more lurid descriptions.

The above is conjecture. However, a spokesman for Mr Walker’s solicitors, Kidd Spoor Taylor, explained to El Reg that at a directions hearing in January, the defendant made it known that given the seriousness of the case he would be represented by Queen’s Counsel – senior lawyers with, usually, at least ten years' experience.

Not wishing to be out-gunned, the Crown Prosecution Service also gave notice of its intention to field a QC. Such is the demand for our learned friends – who often earn in the region of £3,000 per day – the original trial date was put back.

If no other matters intervene, the trial is now set for five days in Newcastle Crown Court, starting on 29 June later this year. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.