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19-Dec-2016 13:34

Initially, the legal reaction was that such a case could not possibly succeed - and that was pretty much the view of the judge who threw it out when first it arrived at Maidstone Crown Court in November 2011.

But that was before an appeal brought by the prosecution in February of this year, and the appeal court ruling in which three appeal judges - Lord Justice Richards, Mr Justice Kenneth Parker and Mr Justice Lindblom - ruled unequivocally that publication to an individual did fall within the meaning of the OPA.

This focus was picked upon by barrister Roger Daniells-Smith, who in an early appearance on behalf of GS reportedly told the court: "We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the law, to try to get this material included as extreme pornography." Kent Police reject this.

They told us: "The only crusade Kent Police is on is to protect children from abuse including sexual exploitation. closes one door where people that would abuse children share and indulge in their fantasies online without the use of images, and prior to now have felt beyond the reach of the law in doing so." A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service explained: "The ruling reinforces the interpretation of 'persons' to include one person".

The Obscene Publications Act celebrates its 53rd birthday this year.

The case has been wending its way through the legal system since April 2010, when GS was charged with nine counts of publishing an obscene article contrary to section 2(1) of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, and one count of possessing an indecent image.

What was particularly innovative was that the material in question was a series of text logs of online chats between GS and one other individual.

Throughout that period, the idea that it might be used to police one-to-one conversation does not seem to have figured highly in the thinking of police and prosecuting authorities.

Indeed, as previously reported in The Register, a submission by Kent Police to the consultation on the extreme porn law in 2005/6 complained that the law was insufficient and, as they submitted: "There remains a legislative gap in terms of written fantasy material specifically about child rape and murder".

The Obscene Publications Act celebrates its 53rd birthday this year.

The case has been wending its way through the legal system since April 2010, when GS was charged with nine counts of publishing an obscene article contrary to section 2(1) of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, and one count of possessing an indecent image.

What was particularly innovative was that the material in question was a series of text logs of online chats between GS and one other individual.

Throughout that period, the idea that it might be used to police one-to-one conversation does not seem to have figured highly in the thinking of police and prosecuting authorities.

Indeed, as previously reported in The Register, a submission by Kent Police to the consultation on the extreme porn law in 2005/6 complained that the law was insufficient and, as they submitted: "There remains a legislative gap in terms of written fantasy material specifically about child rape and murder".

The OPA, broadly, does not criminalise any specific words or depictions.