Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 08:02 UK

Sydney nude art inquiry dropped

Cate Blanchett
Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett had intervened to defend Henson

Australian police have dropped an obscenity investigation into photos of nude children at an art gallery that sparked a major debate on censorship.

Investigators said no charges would be brought over Bill Henson's portraits, which feature naked 13-year-olds.

The decision appeared to clear the way for reopening his exhibit, shut on 22 May, at Sydney's Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Welcoming the move, Henson, 52, said he had found support extended to him over the past weeks "profoundly humbling".

The Australian photographer said: "It is reassuring to see existing laws, having been rigorously tested, still provide a framework in which debate and expression of ideas can occur."

'Notoriously difficult'

Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett and other leading arts figures had said the investigation risked damaging Australia's cultural reputation.

Police had shut the exhibit hours before it was to open and confiscated dozens of portraits of naked adolescent boys and girls.

New South Wales Police said on Friday they had been advised by the director of public prosecutions there was no reasonable prospect of a successful conviction.

"Matters involving the law and art are notoriously difficult and that is why police sought this advice," their statement said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - who had condemned the exhibit as "revolting" - said on Friday he stood by his views.

"I said what my views are as a parent, I don't budge from that," he told Nine Network television.

Blanchett steps into nude art row
28 May 08 |  Entertainment
Country profile: Australia
09 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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