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back to article Girls Aloud net obscenity case falls at first hurdle

A landmark case, which could have led to draconian new restrictions on what UK authors may publish on the internet – and elsewhere – has been dismissed. Prosecution counsel were due today to open their case against Civil Servant Darryn Walker, aged 35, of South Shields, who was accused of publishing an allegedly obscene story …

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Excellent news...

... but you have to wonder how much public money they wasted on this farce.

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Unhappy

so, he did nothing illegal

but he still lost his job...

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Madness

Any idea how much this has all cost? The bloke concerned has lost his job and will probably take some time finding a new one in the current climate, so 'we' have to pay him benefit. The court costs are doubtless astronomical on both sides, especially as this was a case likely to set a precedent so everyone would want a go. All for a net result of "It's OK to write violent smut about Girls Aloud".

Daft.

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@Graham Marsden

Just because this didn't result in a prosecution does not mean it's a waste of money. In fact the law has been further clarified and now it's less likely that more public money will be spent chasing smut writers.

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WTF?

What a Total Farce

WTF What a Total Farce

Shame that the recent government had littered the statute books with many more crud laws like the OPA over the last 12 years which will probably lead to many more legal FAILs of this nature...

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now that it's not obscene,

can you publish it please? Or perhaps a playmobil reconstruction? The title of the piece makes it sound particularly enjoyable

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LJ
FAIL

Ironic, really...

...because this case would've made the story more popular, and thus even easier to find, yet the prosecution *still* couldn't provide any evidence.

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Paris Hilton

Caveat Scriptor

So he's lost his job? So what. Serve's him right for publishing stuff to the internet and forgetting the cardinal rule. Everything on the internet is public or potentially public.

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Anonymous Coward

Love the Met.

So the Met thought that it was important to bring the first OPA case for decades because the story was easily accessible to underage fans, but didn't bother to check if the story was easily accessibly to underage fans.

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Also...

...if they make writing this sort of tittilating fodder illegal it'll instantly make an entire genre of music illegal. Which is just ridiculous, next they'll be banning mainstream horror and movies like Saw.

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Alert

Constructive dismissal?

So, on what basis did he lose his job? Surely the failure of the prosecution to offer any evidence and the not guilty verdict should mean either reinstatement and back pay or compensation for constructive dismissal?

If not then it's a travesty!

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@AC 4

I have read better

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Rollocks

"the fact that it made reference to a band popular with young people"

Got to get the kiddies in there somewhere. If you want to win an argument these days, just tell everyone how you're doing it for the kids.

Twunt.

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WTF?

I would sue the IWF if I was him.

For libel, loss of earnings, loss of future earnings, trauma, etc.

Sue them for ruining my life.

Posting online anonymously about rape is totally different from letting everyone in the UK know that you write stories about Girls aloud being raped and murdered.

We all have our little secrets that we don't want people to know.

What has been done to him is absolutely disgraceful.

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Big Brother

it's called utopia....

@Paul Hates Handles

Did you not see how the state was run in V for Vendetta? or several other shite movies of similar ideals? (or indeed 1982...). anything the police disagree with is therefore wrong, i think dictatorships started that way...

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@Brian

Most likely he'll never need to work again. We need to stop thinking that there are two states, innocent and guilty. There are three; guilty, innocent and suspected. No government level/department can employ a suspected celebrity-snuff-author. It would be political suicide.

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FAIL

Evidence ?

Just enter:

Girls Scream Aloud

into Google. You don't even need the bracket or quotes and the article is at the top of the list. Why ? Because of this case. The original article has been reportedly removed.

If the Law was to protect the innocent, The Daily Star and The Met have done exactly the opposite by their actions!

For those old enough, this seems to be similar to that old fart on the BBC who banned them from playing Relax... it went to No. 1 and proved negative publicity is very powerful.

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Anonymous Coward

...and another reason.

Why the IWF must go.

Seriously, if there was no legal precedent suggesting it was illegal why the fuck was the IWF snooping around in the first place?

The IWF has repeatedly tried to make censorship land grabs in increasing it's remit and attempting to censor ever more this last few years.

It's getting dangerous, it's no longer fit for purpose and it must go. No one had a problem with the IWF when it stuck to producing a blacklist of child porn sites.

The fact it is repeatedly attempting to go beyond that remit is evidence enough that you cannot expect an organisation like the IWF to stay within it's original bounds, it will always eventually try and creep beyond it's remit with the aim of extending it's remit.

There is still of course no evidence though that the IWF actually achieves anything - certainly there does not appear to be any evidence it is decreasing the amount of paedophiles in society or even preventing those who want to see the material from accessing it. Those who want to be protected from accidently stumbling across the material have plenty of options just like with any other distasteful material they do not wish to see.

I would rather see all money currently poured into the IWF go to a police unit dedicated to catching real child abusers and producers of the material in the first place and more done on an international level to name and shame countries who do not cooperate in such operations where they stretch abroad. Instead however time and money is wasted on cases that are flawed from the off like this, or on massive money guzzling operations like operation ore that mostly just catch victims of credit card fraud and ruin their whole lives for them by mislabelling them as child molestors.

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Our moral guardians

The Daily Star???

Oh FFS, stop the World, I want to get off.

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Paris Hilton

Lost job

Not laid off on full-pay, not kept on with a "we're keeping a close eye on you sunshine", but turfed out and probably with loss of pension and other benefits, with a reputation which looked rather damaged.

It probably now comes down to an issue 'of bringing into disrepute' as to whether dismissal was justified, but I hope Darryn Walker is readying the lawyers to recompense.

Paris : The things I could write about her - I have an idea about, Paris, a chainsaw, Girls Aloud and a backyard full of cocks. It's hot stuff and culminates in a moral lesson on chicken management and deforestation.

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Anonymous Coward

Depends upon his contract

You can also be dismissed for many things which are not actually illegal, time keeping, failing to carry out your duties, not conforming to a dress code or for actions which may harm your employers reputation.

I'm also pretty sure that many female co-workers would feel pretty unfomfortable sharing office space with him, never mind members of the public (should his job be public facing)

I suspect the last one may be the most applicable one, though he may have turned up in his Cheryl Cole styled Edgar suit (see film The Men in Black for the Edgar reference)

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Stop

Sort your lives out!

Some of you make me sick....

Code Monkey : this wasn't "smut", it was "rape, mutilation and murder"

Paul Hates Handlers : likewise, this wasnt "titilating fodder", it was "rape, mutilation and murder"

AC4 : if you thought this was "particularly enjoyable" then please consult your psychiatrist or just hand yourself and your PC over to the police, and do us all a favour

Get your categories sorted:

a) innocent

b) evil, but not illegal

c) illegal but unprovably so

d) guilty as charge

Just because the guy isnt doing time for it, doesnt automatically make it ok

And those of you who think this guy is still a suitable person to be employed by the state, remind yourselves that there's plenty of activities which are contractually grounds for dismissal, but which are not illegal.

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Well...

I can't say that I'm desperate to read this story as it sounds unpleasant, but I'm glad that the case has collapsed, if only to preserve the right to post works of complete fiction online.

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WTF?

alt.sex.stories.text

This story seems to suggest the article in question was published on the aforementioned newsgroup whereas the BBC's story reports that it was posted on "his 12-page blog". Is there a final word on where it would actually posted? It seems to me it would make a big difference to the outcome, as having it posted on a web-based journal would make it far easier for The Children to stumble upon it accidentally than if it was posted in a specialist newsgroup dedicated to stories of a sexual nature.

Of course, I wouldn't put it past the BBC to refer to the whole of Usenet as a "blog". Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC used "blogging" to describe all forms of Internet-based text communication.

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A lot of assumptions being made re. the job

I don't know the answers, but I'd like to know the following:

What was his job?

Did he lose his job as a direct result of being charged?

If so, was it in his contract that conduct which reflected badly on his employer could result in him loosing his job?

Was he a permanent employee or a contractor who didn't have his conract renewed as expected?

If he feels he has lost his job unfairly, then why hasn't he requested a tribunal, he just coughed for a QC?

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Grenade

@AC 11.40

Presumably if they sacked him for reasons associated with the incident then he can now sue for wrongful dismissal. What you do in your spare time is your own business, provided its not criminal or is in breach of contract. I'd be rather surprised if CS contracts forbid employees from writing bad literature in their spare time, and I can't see how they could get him for bringing them into disrepute since he didn't write about them, or as far as I know even mention who he worked for, and nobody reading it is going to think the content reflects the opinion of the CS anyway. It'd be one thing if he'd worked for an oil company and had written about oil prices or refinery safety or whatever.

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@Constructive dismissal?

Lots of reasons for him to be fired. When he was arrested he won't have turned up for work for one. Although given that he was a civil servant his employer was responsible for him not turning up.

At the end of the day though, we have a legal system that allows people to assume guilty on arrest.

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Anonymous Coward

Dail Star

So how did the Daily Star find it? I wonder which reporter at the DS is an avid reader of text porn archives, and do they do it on works time?... Interesting job description if they do.

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Happy

Happy face

I have a happy face now, this is the first good thing I've seen on state sponsored censorship in over a year, maybe two? At least writing is safe from direct attack, however I still suspect that the government shall try and come at various things sideways with specific law on various subjects (incest, rape, mutilation, peadophillia, etc.) Much as they have on anything they can deem as terror related in certain peoples hands.

So it's a little victory in a huge war of attrition that in the end we are almost certain to lose. But a victory none the less.

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Anonymous Coward

I mean, why?

This seems to be the problem with the internet and the law. On one hand we have a huge repository of user created content, on the other a Judicial system that doesn't understand it and has no hard or fast rules on how to deal with it. In this case we have a rather *ahem* creative individual whose only real problem seems to be in his choice of Story Titles. Had he have given it a less obvious name and made sure he put in a rather explicit warning at the beginning of the story (or having the work flagged as 'adult' if the function exists on the site) he wouldn't have found himself in someone's legal sights.

His only real crime is that he forgot a cardinal rule of the internet, "No matter what you post on the Internet, your going to offend someone, so protect your arse.". As for the MET, why on earth did they even bother? Okay, so its was based on real people (as per Rule 34), but it was posted in an Erotic Fiction archive... I'm sure if they looked hard enough they would find more (Although I'd love to see the overtime pulled on that investigation). Where they going to prosecute the entire archives writers?

Although I'm sure there are reasons for it, I rally cannot understand why they even considered this case.

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Unhappy

@ @Brian

Actually because of the DNA retention policy, there are four.

Guilty, innocent of a minor offence, innocent of a major offence, and suspected.

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Grenade

Re: What a Total Farce

"Shame that the recent government had littered the statute books with many more crud laws like the OPA over the last 12 years"

Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

It is the "Obscene Publications Act 1959". Many elections have passed since this law was enacted. This is a much better worded law than recent Acts such as the extreme pornography nonsense. The OPA criminalises the publication (not merely possession) of an article that has a tendency to "deprave and corrupt". This allows a jury to decide the verdict on the basis of the current attitude throughout society. Nor is the OPA limited to just images.

Perhaps the MP's expenses rule book is an obscene publication. It seems to have corrupted them. But have they become depraved?

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WTF?

@Estariel

> this wasnt "titilating fodder", it was "rape, mutilation and murder"

This was absolutely *not* "rape, mutilation and murder". This was a fictional article *about* "rape, mutilation and murder". The difference is that one is a horrific and despicable crime against humanity, while the other... well, isn't.

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re:alt.sex.stories.text

as far as I am aware it was posted on asstr in a spific collection of like sorties but since asstr is a reposatry it might be a repost from somewhere else

@Estariel

"it was "rape, mutilation and murder" " NO it was text discribing a fantisy story about rape mutilation and murder you will fins lost more in your local book store in the horror section and even in your local holy book if you look hard enought

"Get your categories sorted:

a) innocent

b) evil, but not illegal

c) illegal but unprovably so

d) guilty as charge

Just because the guy isnt doing time for it, doesnt automatically make it ok"

only under catgoey d) should you suffer any sanction the first 3 are still inocent you might not like it but there are a lot of things I do not like that is the world live with it

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@Estariel

Sorry, have you failed to distinguish between reality and fantasy? Granted I maybe should've said it sounded entertaining instead of enjoyable given the potential for sexual connotations but can you not see that it's to be read as fantasy and not as a guideline for an action in reality?

I'm willing to bet that at some point in your life you have played a game that has resulted in you killing some other form of "life" in the game and that it brought a smile to your face. Shall we recommend you for psychiatric assessment too?

You have also got your definitions confused, if something is "illegal but unprovably so" then it must therefore be legal. The Law does not set out what is legal, it sets out what is illegal and so if it doesn't fall into the "illegal" category it must therefore be legal, not the other way around.

The guy is not doing time for it (mercifully) because he has a fundemental right to be able to compose and publish works of pure fantasy. Is everybody really a boring mindless drone in your utopian world? What this guy did in writing and publishing his story was 100% ok and I'd hate to live in your world where it seems it's not.

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You're all missing the point..

He did nothing illegal, yet his life was turned upside down.

Have any of you ever watched a gory slasher film? 18+ cert?

Did you want to lynch the director for making it, or did you enjoy it for what it was. A bit of fun.

This man didn't go around raping and murdering people, he just wrote about it.

He lost his job and now when I type "Darryn Walker" into google I get links about how he has been charged for all kinds of crimes.

It's not fair that an innocent man gets his life destroyed like this because of the IWF's "WONT SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!" attitude.

"All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level,

that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will

understand it... Through clever and constant application of propaganda,

people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way

around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise." - Adolf Hitler.

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response

@Gordon 10 :

So by that reasoning, it's okay to fire you for publishing on this page?

The problem was he didn't lose his job directly for publishing, but because of the prosecution. If he wasn't prosecuted, they'd have never known about it. It's unclear if he ever used his full name - the problem is that his details were found out as a result of an investigation by the Internet Watch Foundation and the police.

Same with the Anon poster who talked about co-workers not wanting to share space. By that reasoning, should anyone accused of a crime be dismissed? If they're not uncomfortable, then either make arrangements to work in another bit of the office, or get another job yourself.

@Estariel : You should try reading some Poppy Z Brite. These fictional depictions are not uncommon in mainstream bookstores.

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Anonymous Coward

A lyric that sums it up

"If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind, then give me the Electric Chair for all my future crimes".

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@Code Monkey

Yes, the law has (now) been clarified, but, as with the Dangerous Pictures Act, it would never have come to that had the law been written clearly in the first place.

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Megaphone

@John

Aye, it really is getting just like that.

England prevails :/

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Big Brother

Freedom of Thought

The problem faced by the Prosecution under the OPA is not just to define what is obscene, but also to prosecute someone for finding a combination of certain letters tittilating. The release of endorphins based on a sequence of characters is a result of what is called 'thought' and the freedom of thought is the first and foremost one in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all its derivatives.

I know this government has been trying hard to get Thoughtcrime on the books but thankfully the CPS realised it was gonna lose in the end.

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@Estariel

No, *you* get *your* categories sorted:

1) Not guilty.

2) Guilty.

There are *NO* other categories, unless you believe in trial by media, gossip, hearsay and innuendo.

The guy wrote a work of FICTION, if you're going to start censoring stuff simply because you don't like it, let alone arresting people for doing so, you're on a very dangerous and slippery slope.

If you don't like it, don't read it, but don't make ridiculous and unfounded assumptions about other people based on your own ignorance.

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@Estariel

I have no interest in whatever this bloke wrote and he may well be a pervert - but "thoughtcrime" is not (yet) a crime in the UK.

How could it be wrong for him to write about "rape, mutilation and murder" when it is apparently OK for Hollywood to produce horror films with the same sort of content? Provided the correct rating is applied, films are allowed to show "rape, mutilation and murder", provided they avoid directly showing certain sexual elements (although these can be implied or "out of shot").

Whilst there might be many contractual grounds for dismissal, I doubt that "having perverted fantasies" is one of them.

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Megaphone

@ too numerous too mention

1) He shouldn't have been arrested, but after the Star and the IWF got hold of it the Police had little choice but to act on a complaint. Can you imagine the outcry if they had done nothing? Also bear in mind it will have been the CPS's decision to prosecute the case after the arrest, which is where it should have died as it wasn't illegal.

2) Once he was charged and it became apparent he was guilty of publishing his filth online his employer will have had no choice but to fire him. That sort of mentality is not conducive with most office environments. Again bear in mind it wasn't found that he didn't do it, only that it wasn't really illegal.

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IWF Win?

In truth the IWF got the result it wanted even without winning the case.

All it took was the Police to charge him and he's now lost his job(assuming that's the case, all articles are a little vague about this right now). Anyone else writing any stories even slightly dubious in nature will now think twice about actually submitting them.

This is another 'crime'(like rape) that will cause you to loose your job and screw up your life by just being accused. Can he now sue the Police/CPS as they bought the case and then decided to submit 'no eveidence'?

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Grenade

Stranger than Fiction

@AC and mmiied

Its not quite "fiction" when it's about real people.

Try this.....edit the story text to use the real names of your mother, daughter, lover or wife, instead of the Girls Aloud.

Now re-read it. Still feel the same way?

Circulate the new version to your family and friends......it's not illegal, so that should be ok, right?

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Big Brother

@Estariel

Go have a read of your holy book. You'll find plenty of rape, mutilation and murder in there. Not to mention being told to sacrifice your son, being turned into a pillar of salt and being swallowed whole by a giant fish - often for doing exactly what your god tells you.

You need to sort your categories too. There are plenty of crimes for which you can be convicted that are not evil. You can even be convicted of acts that your holy book will tell you are following the word of god. Innocent / guilty and good / evil are not synonymous.

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Big Brother

@Estartiel The Troll

Presumably you would like Agatha Christie to have gone to the 'chair for writing believable stories about murder?

Or sent Sam Peckinpah packing for his portrayal of Straw Dogs?

How about Spielberg for that one about the germans?

I guess you must love new labour - the only nutters out there looking to implement the sin of thought crime in our formerly great nation.

1984 was meant to be fiction - not a dummies guide.

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@Estariel

Seriously, get your head outta wherever it is.

There's plenty of mainstream books about rape, murder, mutilation etc - and not just in the horror genre. What about the folks who make a living off writing stories about abused children. Just because they're apparently based on true accounts doesn't make them any different from another story about children getting raped.

I personally think reading a story about mutilation and the possible necrophagia of Girls Aloud would be bloody hilarious. YOU might not find it tittilating but many people do.

Just like many people find Girls Aloud themselves to be morally and personally objectionable.

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Flame

@Dennis

Dennis are you illiterate or simply unable to draw the correct conclusions from a rather basic logic construct.

I said the statute books are now littered with many more crud laws LIKE the OPA.

That sentence doesn't imply that the OPA is a Neu LieBore creation. It just states that the lefties have done nothing to help clean up the statute books. There's now many more dubious offences littered with subjective tests, there's more overlap, and much more oversight of our private lives.

Think before criticising.

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