image to be considered illegal it must fall under 2 categories.
'Pornographic' and 'Extreme'. As you will see, it is difficult to
even place TieGuyUK in the category 'Pornographic' and it certainly
doesn't feature anything remotely 'Extreme' but for those of you
that are not familiar with the bill and may be slightly concerned
please read the following summary which is taken from my solicitors
According to the bill, an image is pornographic if it is 'of
such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been
produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual
arousal'. The images on your website may fall under this
definition, as it can be argued that the purpose of the website
is to provide sexual stimulation for people who are aroused by
light bondage. However, there is an alternative argument that
the images are produced for the principal purpose of
communicating the message that it is acceptable to enjoy light
bondage, as this seems to be how you describe your reasons for
producing the images. If the images on your website do not fall
under the definition of 'pornographic', then the bill will not
affect you. However, as it is possible that they 'could' be
construed as 'pornographic', it is worth reviewing the rest of
The current definition has two legs to it: it is an image that
(1) falls under subsection 7 and (2) is grossly offensive,
disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
As both legs of the definition of an 'extreme image' have to be
satisfied under the bill, the images would also have to fall
under the list of examples in subsection 7. Given the moderate
nature of the images, it seems unlikely that the images would
fall under subsection 7.
There is no indication that these words will have a special
meaning in the bill and so it seems likely that they will simply
have their ordinary meanings, as in the 2007 case of Connolly v
Director of Public Prosecutions, which dealt with whether the
sending of disturbing abortion images fell under the Malicious
Communications Act 1988 by being 'grossly offensive and
indecent'. The 'shocking and disturbing' nature of the images in
that case (close-up colour photographs of dead 21-week old
foetuses with face and limbs clearly visible) were found to be
These images are at the higher end of the scale in terms of
offending the public's sensibilities.
The most extreme images that I have seen on TieGuyUK involve
tied up men immersed in water, men taped up, and men taped
together. I have not seen any violent images, or any full
nudity. In this way the moderate, light-hearted and non-violent
images of half-dressed, tied up men on your website can clearly
be distinguished from the shocking images in Connolly which
dealt with death and the highly sensitive issue of abortion and
the welfare of foetuses. Therefore it is unlikely that the
images on your website would be construed as 'grossly
Disgusting/Of an obscene character
The Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 make it an offence
to publish an obscene article. Under these acts, the test of
obscenity is whether it 'tends to deprave or corrupt persons who
are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to
read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it'.
Case law has also confirmed that the test of 'tending to deprave
or corrupt' would vary for the different persons viewing the
material. Therefore in the case of TieGuyUK, the tendency to
deprave or corrupt regular visitors to/members of the website
could be different from the tendency to deprave or corrupt other
internet users, including young children, who may stumble across
the website, although you have helped to prevent this occurring
by including a warning as to the content of the site before
users may enter, as well as a members only section which
requires a password.
It is most likely that the images on your website would not be
described as 'obscene'.
In the case of Knuller (Publishing, Printing and Promotions) Ltd
and others v Director of Public Prosecutions, it was decided
that to 'deprave and corrupt' was not merely to lead astray
morally. In the case of R v Anderson, it was decided that an
article is not necessarily obscene just because it is repulsive,
filthy, loathsome or lewd (in other words, the ordinary
dictionary definition of the word 'obscene' cannot be relied
on). Other than this, it is hard to find an objective meaning of
'deprave and corrupt': it is a subjective question that is put
to the jury in each individual case.
Given that it must be more than merely leading astray morally
and more than being 'lewd', it is unlikely that the images on
your website fall under this definition of 'obscene'.
To establish the offence of 'an act outraging public decency',
it has to be proved that the act was of such a lewd, obscene or
disgusting character that it outraged public decency. An obscene
act in this context has been defined as an act which offends
against recognised standards of propriety and which is at a
higher level of impropriety than indecency. A disgusting act has
been defined as one 'which fills the onlooker with loathing or
extreme distaste or causes annoyance'.
It seems that ('causing annoyance' aside) particularly strong
words have been chosen to define 'obscene' and 'disgusting':
higher than indecency, loathing (rather than dislike), 'extreme'
The case law definitions suggest that the words used in the bill
have been specifically chosen to cover acts at the highest end
of the spectrum, whereas TieGuyUK clearly declares itself to be
at the lowest end, with an emphasis on lightness and fun, and
this is reflected in the images themselves, which do not show
violence or even nudity. Therefore it is unlikely that the
images on your website would be described as 'grossly offensive,
disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character'.
of the bill
This section of the bill has been introduced to criminalise the
possession of 'extreme' pornography, rather than target the
pornography industry as a whole. Research paper 07/93 states
that the bill was introduced after a campaign by Liz Longhurst
whose daughter had been strangled to death by a man who was
addicted to violent porn. The content of the pornography he was
addicted to included images of women being raped and strangled
as well as pictures purporting to show necrophilia.
The images on
your website do not contain nudity and do not show violence of
any sort. Within the adult entertainment industry, TieGuyUK must
be at the moderate end of the scale and therefore outside the
focus of the bill.
The research paper notes that, when the bill was introduced,
'the Government did not seek to change the law in respect of
what was obscene or pornographic, or extend the Obscene
Publications Act 1959, but needed to create the possession
offence in order to enforce the current law, with a high
threshold for the offence, focusing on material that [they]
believe is already illegal to publish'. Therefore, if the images
on your website are not considered 'obscene' under the Obscene
Publications Act 1959 and are not currently illegal, they will
not fall within the ambit of the new bill.
In conclusion, therefore, I think it is currently very unlikely
that TieGuyUK website would fall under the provisions of the
bill, as it is unlikely that the images would fall under the
definition of 'extreme'.