Prosecuting the Possession of Extreme Pornography: A Misunderstood and Misused Law
Criminal Law Review, p. 400, 2013
6 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2014
Date Written: September 20, 2013
On 8th August 2012, Simon Walsh was acquitted of five counts of possessing extreme pornography. The case was not, of course, the first prosecution under the extreme pornography provisions contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (CJIA). Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) figures indicate that there were 799 prosecutions in 2011. However, unlike many of the other prosecutions, Walsh’s case was the focus of extensive public debate. It was touted in the press as a ‘landmark’ case defining the boundaries of the extreme pornography provisions, in which ‘common sense prevailed’ through a ‘sensible jury verdict’. There are two particular features of this case which meant that it garnered such attention. First, Simon Walsh was a high profile defendant. At the time of his arrest he was a barrister, politician, and magistrate, as well as (according to newspaper reports) a close aide of the London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Second, his trial was live-tweeted by Walsh’s solicitor, Myles Jackman and by PhD student Alex Dymock to over 8,000 followers. Notwithstanding this publicity, R v Walsh is unreported. Accordingly, while this article draws on the public tweets and press reports, it is recognised that neither are authoritative sources of information and that it is important to treat both with great caution. Nonetheless, and with these caveats in mind, the Walsh case provides an opportunity to revisit what continues to be a misunderstood and, in this case, mis-used, law.
Keywords: pornography, extreme pornography, Walsh, cultural harm, BDSM
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation