Letter from the Spanner Trust
On August 30th the UK Home Office published a summary of the responses they received to their Consultation on the Possession of Extreme Pornographic Material. You can download the summary as a pdf file at www.spannertrust.org/documents/Gvt-response-extreme-porn.pdf
As a result of the consultation the British Government is pressing ahead with plans to create a new offence which would criminalise anyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who possesses explicit pornographic material, showing actual scenes or depictions which appear to be real, of the following activities:
- acts which appear to be life threatening or are likely to result in serious, disabling injury.
- intercourse or oral sex with an animal.
- sexual interference with a human corpse.
People who download such images from the Internet could face three years in jail under the proposals, or five years in jail for distributing the images to other people.
The consultation was held jointly with the Scottish Executive. We are waiting to hear if they will propose a similar offence to cover people living in Scotland.
The Spanner Trust has no comment to make on categories 2 and 3 regarding animals and human corpses, as we deal only with BDSM activity between consenting adults. However, we will be working closely with Backlash to campaign against category 1 of the proposals as they make no distinction between real or staged acts, or scenes which are consensual versus non-consensual. For more information on the campaign or to find out how you can help please visit the Backlash website: www.backlash-uk.org.uk
The following events are supporting the Spanner Trust over the next few months:
- September - INFERNO
Inferno is the annual run of the Chicago Hellfire Club in the USA. This year they have chosen the Spanner Trust as the beneficiary of any fundraising at Inferno. One of the Trustees will be going to lead the fundraising, assisted by a number of SM players from the UK who are also there to have fun. Please support them if you are going to Inferno this year. (There will be a list of businesses that donated items for fundraising at Inferno in the next newsletter.)
- Saturday 30th September - JUST ROPE in LONDON
Just Rope hold rope bondage workshops and play parties open to anyone, regardless of skill level or sexuality. Each JUST ROPE event has raised money for the Spanner Trust. The September event will be a set of workshops led by Chanta Rose. More info at www.justrope.co.uk
- Saturday 7th October - SKIN TWO EXPO
This year the Skin Two Rubber Ball Weekend is from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th October. The Skin Two Expo runs from 1pm on both Saturday and Sunday at The Barbican Exhibition Centre. The Spanner Trust will be running a stall at the Expo on Saturday 7th October. More info at www.skintworubberball.com
- Saturday 18th November - JUST ROPE in HUDDERSFIELD
In November Just Rope will be holding special workshops by Chanta Rose in the North of England. As usual, £1 from each entry ticket will go to the Spanner Trust. More info at www.justrope.co.uk
- Sunday November 26th - THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE
The Spanner Trust will be giving a presentation at the annual conference of the Libertarian Alliance. More info at www.libertarian.co.uk
If you would like to invite us to speak at your club or gathering please email info (at) spannertrust.org
KEEPING A DISORDERLY HOUSE
If you engage in any consensual activities in England, Wales or Northern Ireland for sexual pleasure which result in injuries more than "transient or trifling" you have broken the law of assault, under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. (Scotland has a separate legal system where consent is generally a defence but not in all circumstances.)
However, that's not the only law which is being used against SM players in the UK. The Disorderly Houses Act 1751 is also used by police to investigate people in charge of venues where SM takes place under the offence of "Keeping a Disorderly House".
The charge of "Keeping a Disorderly House" can be applied to both men and women, whether or not any money changes hands. In order to break the law you need to be in charge of an area which potentially is open to the public and where activities take place which can "deprave or corrupt". The case which decided that this included SM activities was the original Spanner Trial (R v. Brown and others).
The manager of "Club Whiplash" was prosecuted in the mid 1990s for keeping a disorderly house. He was acquitted after a two week trial because "Club Whiplash" was a private members club, and so it was decided that members of the public couldn't be depraved or corrupted by what went on. However, if there is a home, dungeon space or club which might be used by a member of the public then the owners or managers of the club are still at risk.
This law is still being used against members of the SM community, even in 2006. Please make sure that you are not at risk of prosecution. The Spanner Trust provides legal advice and referrals for any SM players worried that they might be in trouble with the UK law because of their activities.
WITH THANKS ...
We are very grateful to all the organizations and individuals who have supported the Trust, including:
- THE LONDON ALTERNATIVE MARKET (LAM) (www.londonalternativemarket.com) raised £724 for the Trust in August, bringing their total this year to £1394. A large amount of money was raised from a raffle, with prizes generously donated by: TracieArt, Impact Edge, Pretty Pervy, Club Subversion, E-Stim Systems, Twisted Photography and the LAM crew.
- LAM raffle tickets were also sold at KINKFEST3 (www.unfettered.co.uk/kinkfest3.htm) and the LOVETRIX FESTIVAL (www.lovetrix.co.uk).
- THE HOIST club held a benefit night for the Trust in August, raising £285. (www.thehoist.co.uk)
- SOUTH CENTRAL pub also held a benefit night for the Trust in August, raising £59.45. Particular thanks go to Mark and Paul at South Central for providing hospitality for Spanner Trustee meetings. (www.southcentrallondon.co.uk)
- THE CHESTERFIELD CONCLAVE raised £52 for the Trust at their August meeting. (www.informedconsent.co.uk/p/ChesterfieldConclave)
- JUST ROPE bondage events raised £45 at their August party, which brings the total they've raised for the Trust in the last year to £448. (www.justrope.co.uk)
- RoB fetish store has sponsored more print runs of our campaign leaflets. (www.rob.nl)
- HANDJOBS MEDIA continues to do an excellent job distributing out campaign leaflets at fetish events. (www.handjobsmedia.com)
WHY DO WE NEED MONEY?
The Spanner Trust plans to bring a UK High Court application under the Human Rights Act 1998 to allow consent as a defence where injury occurs during activities for sexual pleasure. For our challenge to succeed we need two things: claimants (people willing to put their name to the application saying that they are at risk of prosecution) and money to help pay for the costs of the case. We are working with a Senior Queen's Counsel who has advised us that if we manage to bring the case to the High Court we stand a good chance of success.
However, we need to be prepared to pay the costs of the case, if necessary, and that could be as much as £250,000.
- If you have money from a fundraiser that you would like to forward to the Trust in pounds, dollars or euros, or you would like to make a private donation, please go to www.spannertrust.org/donations.asp or send a cheque to the Spanner Trust, Norvin House, 45-55 Commercial Street, London E1 6BD, UK.
- If you run a club and would like to hold a fundraiser for the Trust please let us know. There is a list of clubs and businesses which have helped us recently at www.spannertrust.org/supporters.asp
- If you know anyone who would like to receive this letter as an email please ask them to write to subscribe (at) spannertrust.org to be added to the mailing list.
- Finally, if you know anyone in the UK in trouble because of their SM activities please ask them to email info (at) spannertrust.org and we will do our best to help, or put them in touch with a legal professional in their area.
Thank you again for all your support, it's much appreciated.
Best wishes, John Pendal
Spanner Trust Chairman
Click here for November '06 letter