Thursday, August 13, 1998 Published at 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK
Police seize 'offensive' pig posters
Welsh's novel tells the story of a corrupt Edinburgh policeman
Police have been accused of censorship after they seized copies of a poster from a shop window showing a pig in a officer's helmet.
The posters, promoting cult author Irvine Welsh's latest book Filth, were on display at independent book store October Books in Southampton, Hampshire.
Officers seized the posters after spotting them in the shop window and now police say they may pass the matter onto the Crown Prosecution Service.
Liz Farrat, campaign manager for the civil rights group Liberty criticised the police for being "over-sensitive", calling the move a "ridiculous over-reaction".
"The threat of criminal sanctions over what is a light-hearted derogatory image will do little to enhance public confidence in the police," she said.
Shop worker Liz Carter said: 'The police said it was the first time they had seen the poster and they found it offensive."
She said their actions amounted to censorship and accused the police of "misusing" the law.
'If the poster is so offensive why didn't they seize copies of the book as well?"
City police confirmed that the posters were seized under the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act which deals with offensive and obscene material.
Under the act there is an offence of "intentionally causing harrassment, alarm or distress through threatening, abusive or insulting words, behaviour or displays".
Such an offence carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.
Books were not seized
He said a decision will then be made as to whether the matter should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.
"The officer acted on his own initiative and was quite within his rights to seize the posters," said Sergeant Maule.
"I have looked at them and I find them offensive."
Sgt Maule stressed that the books were not seized, even though they present the same image, because they were not in public view.
Filth was published last week and, despite receiving mixed reviews, is selling well.
It tells the story of single-minded career cop, Bruce Robertson, who "spirals through the lower reaches of degradation and evil" in a "dark, disturbing and very funny novel about sleaze, power and the abuse of everything".
The Booksellers Association has now taken up the case.