The prosecution of Simon Walsh for offences under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, has come to a close having (rightly) failed. Yet there is no indication that the CPS or the MET have any intention of reconsidering the manner of their enforcement of this law; leaving aside the fact that the legislation is severely flawed and overtly intrusive.
Recent actions have exposed what might be described as a pitbull mentality in the ranks of UK law enforcement, that is very much at odds with public perceptions of what is and is not acceptable. The image of the pitbull with egg on its face is somehow rather less absurd than recent CPS actions and the legal arguments offered in the pursuit of those actions.
Things have moved on since Tiger porn and other CPS fiascos. We are now in a realm where the very motivation of prosecution is coming into question. It has been publicly suggested that the prosecution of Simon Walsh was not only vindictive but may also have been a malicious, determined, targeted and (unfortunately) successful attempt at his ruination; his aquittal in this regard is quite meaningless.
This case proves all too painfully that one does not have to be guilty or found guilty to be ruined and that anyone whose private life could be linked to porn (by personal design or otherwise), is a potential target and has good reason to be afraid. The ineptitude of legislators coupled with the flagrant disregard for the individual’s right to privacy and a sustained misrepresentation of “public interest”, courtesy of the CPS, has presented a golden opportunity for anyone with a malicious axe to grind. The prevalence and scope of Internet porn is such that significant numbers of individuals could be harbouring images that have been forgotten or of which they know nothing about; images that if found, could result in prosecution and with it, ruination, regardless of final outcome. One wonders just how easy it has become to remove an “undesirable” individual with nothing more than an anonymous tip-off of the right substance in the appropriate place. The worst case scenario may no longer be conjecture, it could actually be with us now.
Ironically, those most likely to suffer are those who feel they have nothing to hide. Serious collectors of porn (and especially that extremely small minority, the genuinely dangerous) will vet their collections and will employ computer applications that clean their machines leaving no recoverable trace of legally contentious material. They will seek to hide what they can’t bring themselves to destroy and will likely use novel methods to this end; methods that may well escape detection. Meanwhile, that ancient Powerpoint presentation that came from a mate a few years back, happens to contain something that falls within the CPS’s definition of extreme porn. All of a sudden and quite possibly in connection with an entirely unrelated matter, M. Average is suddenly seen as an unemployable sex fiend; even if acquitted.
This is not a time to take a sledge hammer to your computer and meticulously break every CD or DVD you have ever created that might contain something contentious. It is time for all reasonable people to demand the repeal of all laws that criminalise consensual imagery of legal acts and laws which place the burden of proof on the defendant. Juries have demonstrated that they are unimpressed with this legislative idiocy and it’s costing tax payers a veritable mint. And lets not forget the insidious vetting intended to protect the vulnerable, but which can destroy an individual’s career with neither corroborable evidence nor any hearing and most certainly without the scrutiny of a jury.
Regardless of whether you view, like or loath porn, your taxes are paying for this madness and you have every right to be angry.
Embedded within this article are links to articles and other resources, detailing the facts of the above case, such as are known, along with commentary upon the implications of the trial and Mr Walsh’s acquittal.