On behalf of those demonstrating, Clair Lewis claimed that their strategy was two-pronged. “On the one hand, we intend to demand from the police, from the CPS, from Government that they make crystal clear which books, which images will be illegal. Future actions are likely to involve mass visits to police stations, asking the police to provide guidance, before the law is enacted.
“On the other, we are not going to make this easy for them. It is clear from police enthusiasm for this measure that they believed that taking control of people’s sexuality would be straightforward. It will not. We will fight them all the way. Every case will cost the police and authorities very dear indeed in terms of time, resources and manpower.”
Commenting on the lack of clarity, Clair added: “It is not the business of government to police the bedrooms of consenting adults. We cannot conduct our sex lives on the basis of ringing for legal advice every time we open a book.”
Ironically, some support for these calls comes from John Beyer, Director of Mediawatch UK, and supporter of even stricter measures on pornography. "It is important for there to be clear divide between what is legal and what is not. People need to know."
Contrary to the views expressed by protesters, he feels the new law provides that clarity on extreme material. "But there may be a need for an amnesty, during which the public are able to hand in any material that could be considered a crime to possess. The last thing anybody would want is for the police to be raiding people's homes."
Separately, moves are under way to set up a website to be known, provisionally, as “the English Index”. This is modelled on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum which was, for several centuries, a list of books that the Catholic church considered it a sin for Catholics to read.
Also on the web, dozens of sites have begun planning what they will do when this law goes live. Informedconsent is one of the largest UK sites providing support and advice to the BDSM community, the site archive including well over 100,000 images. The vast majority of these are innocuous, but some might fall foul of the new law – and the site management believes it will be an impossible task to re-vet every single one of them.
Earlier this year, in a dry run, the site operators took down all pictures for a day – and replaced them with a picture of Gordon Brown. ®