The prospect of a dramatic extension of the Obscene Publications Act is once more back on the agenda, as the Crown Prosecution Service last week re-opened a case in which an individual is accused of obscene publishing in respect of a private online chat.
The issue, described by one legal commenter as "the most significant obscenity case so far this century", centres on a prosecution originally brought in May of this year against Gavin Smith, of Swanscombe, whose log of a private online chat he had with another individual was deemed by Kent Police to be obscene.
When the case first came before magistrates, it was “discharged”: that is, Mr Smith’s lawyers argued at the time that there was no case to answer and at that time, both magistrates and CPS were inclined to agree.
The CPS have since received new evidence in this matter and, following a review, have decided to re-charge Smith. There will now be a hearing on 30 November when defence solicitors are again likely to argue that there is no case to answer – and the CPS will put the contrary view.
Watch this space for further developments. ®