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British government accused of misleading in gay lawyer’s extreme porn case

Simon Walsh, a gay former aide to London Mayor Boris Johnson, was cleared of all charges in ‘extreme porn’ case but fall-out continues
Simon Walsh was found not guilty of owning extreme images on his email.

British government officials – and Policing Minister, Damian Green, MP – were today accused of spreading deliberate disinformation about the reasons for prosecuting gay barrister Simon Walsh in 2012 for possession of extreme porn.

Damian Green, in particular, is singled out as needing to explain why, in respect of such a controversial legal initiative, he appeared to be smearing Walsh by linking him to practices that formed no part of the case against him.

The row arose after Damian Green wrote to Vernon Coaker, Member of Parliament for Gedling, providing answers to questions raised by a private individual, Jon Fuller, as to why the CPS had decided to prosecute.

Questions were originally directed to Coaker because, as a Minister at the Home Office under the last government, he was closely involved in creating the law on extreme porn.

London-based lawyer Walsh, a former aide to the capital's mayor Boris Johnson, was charged on five counts of possessing extreme pornographic images.

These images featured fisting and urethral sounding, as well as one charge of possessing an indecent image of a child. He was acquitted on all charges.

According to Green the key issue was not one of consent, but of likelihood of harm. In his letter, he claimed that medical practitioners had looked at the ‘specific sexual activities’ contained in the images, and concluded that these ‘showed a likelihood of causing serious injury’.

He further wrote: ‘In this case the images were of fisting and sounding (the practice of inserting a razor blade or rod down the urethra of the penis).’

However, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS): ‘It was not part of the case against Walsh that a razor blade was used.’

This is also not a practice widely promoted in the BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism) community. Sites dealing with urethral sounding refer to the use of specific medical instruments, known as ‘urethral sounds’.

An individual with extensive experience of BDSM told us: ‘Mr Green bandying razor blades and rods together in the same sentence is grossly irresponsible and misleading. I believe a razor blade could be used to increase the size of the opening in urethral stretching but that really is extreme and way beyond what most people would consider “urethral sounding” or bdsm play.’

Fuller, who is a supporter of Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) and an active campaigner against the law on extreme porn, is now demanding further answers.

Speaking to Gay Star News, he said: ‘It is clear that the way in which Green has worded his response is calculated to make out that Walsh was involved in practices far more extreme and far more dangerous than anything he was charged with.

‘I understand that the CPS is now claiming that these may have been general comments about the practice of sounding, but that is simply not good enough. The case evoked considerable concern at the time, and a politician of Mr Green’s experience and standing will be well aware of how his comments will be received.

‘I believe he needs to explain where he obtained his misinformation from: or if he will not do that, he should now put the record straight and apologize to Mr Walsh for the slur he has cast.’

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘The decision to bring a prosecution is a matter for the CPS and we have nothing to add to the minister's letter which was intended to be helpful to the correspondent.’

The CPS further added: “We believe the general description of sounding which appears not to be specific about this case […] may have been based on other images that have been considered by the CPS.’

They were unwilling, however, to confirm they were not the source of Green’s information.

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