Not guilty verdict in DVD obscenity trial

  • Published

A male escort accused of distributing obscene DVDs has been found not guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court.

Michael Peacock, 53, was charged with six counts under the Obscene Publications Act after an undercover police officer bought DVDs from him.

The films, which he had advertised for sale online, featured hardcore gay sex acts.

Mr Peacock's lawyer claimed the unanimous verdict might make police reluctant to prosecute in future.

Mr Peacock, of Finsbury Park, north London, whom his lawyer described as a well-known member of the gay community, was charged after police sent an undercover officer to his house in January 2009 to buy the DVDs.

Nigel Richardson, a lawyer with defence solicitors Hodge Jones and Allen, told the BBC: "Police were looking very closely at this case."

The jury had to decide if the DVDs would deprave and corrupt any person likely to read, see or hear it.

Mr Richardson said that the jury decided the people likely to see the films were "gay men specifically asking for this type of material."

He added: "The whole idea of something being depraved or corrupt is out-dated."

The jury of men and women watched "large amounts [of the films over] several hours" during the trial, which began on Tuesday.

"Although they were quite shocked initially, they started to look quite bored very quickly," Mr Richardson said.

Review guidelines

The acts depicted in the films are not in themselves illegal.

Mr Richardson's colleague Myles Jackman tweeted after the case that officers from SCD9, the Metropolitan Police unit dealing with human exploitation and organised crime, will "sit down with" the Crown Prosecution Service and the British Board of Film Classification "to review guidelines on obscenity".

Mr Jackman, writing at the start of the case, had said it was the "most significant in a decade".

"This could be the final nail in the coffin for the Obscene Publications Act in the digital age because the jury's verdict shows that normal people view consensual adult pornography as a part of everyday life and are no longer shocked, depraved or corrupted by it," he said.

Mediawatch-UK, which campaigns against obscene material in the media, said the Obscene Publications Act needed to be tightened up.

Its director Vivienne Pattison says the case "illustrates the problem" with the act.

"There is not a list which says what is obscene and what is not. It makes it incredibly difficult to get a conviction on that," she said.

"As a society we are moving to a place where porn is considered as kind of fun between consenting adults, but porn is damaging."

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