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Government unbans dirty vids but bans 'legal highs'

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Legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1984, which banned the sale of unclassified videos and computer games, is not actually enforceable because the government of the day never told the European Commission.

Accordingly the Crown Prosecution Service has been told to drop pending prosecutions against retailers accused of offences under the law. The Video Recordings Act introduced penalties for retailers caught selling violent material to children, and restricted sales of some films to licensed sex shops.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport discovered the screw-up when it was preparing for the introduction of legislation to adopt PEGI (Pan European Game Information) ratings for computer games, as recommended by Dr Tanya Byron. The Department said that previous convictions under the law will stand.

Minister Barbara Follett has written to trade bodies asking them to accept voluntary guidelines until the relevant legislation is passed.

Follett's letter said: "As, twenty five years ago, the then British Government did not notify the European Commission of the VRA's classification and labelling requirements, they cannot now be enforced in the UK courts...I would also like to seek the industry's assurance that they will continue to retail these products in the same way and that they will remain compliant with the provisions of the VRA on a voluntary and best practice basis."

In other news, the Home Office has announced it will adopt recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to ban 'Spice' - a synthetic cannabinoid mixture, gamma-butyrolactone and a like chemical, which are converted by the body into GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and BZP (benzylipiperazine) and related piperazines.

Professor David Nutt, Chair of the ACMD, said: "We welcome the Government's decision to accept our advice and bring GBL; BZP; 1,4-butanediol; synthetic cannabinoids and 24 anabolic steroids within the Misuse of Drugs Act." ®

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