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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 12:08 GMT
Controversial photos stay put
Images at Saatchi gallery
The Saatchi Gallery re-opens to the public on Thursday
The gallery at the centre of a censorship row has said it will not withdraw controversial images of naked children from its exhibition.

The Saatchi Gallery in London was visited by police officers from Scotland Yard's obscene publications unit last week after complaints from the public.

This is a tabloid-led witch hunt

Henderson Mullin, Index on Censorship

The police deny asking the gallery to remove the pictures but confirm they are preparing a report for the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is thought complaints were made about photographs of children by American photographer Tierney Gearon.


The photos show Ms Gearon's own children in a variety of locations, often naked or semi-naked.

Images from Saatchi Gallery
A publisher is reported to have been warned over a book with the images
The gallery, owned by art collector Charles Saatchi, will keep the pictures on display when the exhibition, I Am A Camera, re-opens to the public on Thursday.

Fine art publisher Edward Booth-Clibborn is also thought to have been given a Thursday deadline to remove thousands of copies of the accompanying book I am a Cinema.

Henderson Mullin, publisher of the bi-monthly magazine Index on Censorship, told BBC News Online that the row was becoming a "moral panic".

"We must really consider what we are losing by pursuing this matter. The logical extension of this is that no images of children could be ever shown at all.

"This is a tabloid-led witch hunt. This is the first raid on a gallery in 30 years and we should ask ourselves why.


"The police are desperately keen to be seen to be doing something and they have picked a high profile way to do it."

There have been suggestions that the News of the World newspaper is connected with the police visit to the gallery.

But a spokeswoman for the newspaper told BBC News Online that no-one from the paper had alerted the police.

She said: "We were alerted to the gallery on the Friday by an outside source."

On Sunday the tabloid called for the exhibition to be shut.

It described it as "a revolting exhibition of perversion under the guise of art".

Mr Henderson said the photos were neither "lewd or sexually provocative" and so were not contravening the 1978 Protection of Children Act.

The Culture Secretary Chris Smith has already warned of the dangers of censorship while not commenting on the pictures directly.

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See also:

11 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Smith warns against art censorship
20 Jun 00 | Business
Saatchi falls to Publicis
03 Apr 00 | UK
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