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Tuesday, March 3, 1998 Published at 12:05 GMT



UK

Text book seized in pornography row
image: [ Mapplethorpe self portrait: academics are fighting to stop his book being destroyed ]
Mapplethorpe self portrait: academics are fighting to stop his book being destroyed

A university text book has been seized by police who want it destroyed on the grounds of obscenity.


The University of Central England Vice-Chancellor, Dr Peter Knight, gives his reaction (1'31")
Police raided the flat of a third-year undergraduate art student to confiscate the book, which they say may be illegal.

The book celebrating the work of controversial American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe was being used by a student for her degree work.

She had copied parts of the book, which contains photographs of homosexual activity and bondage scenes, for her thesis 'Fine Art and Pornography'.


[ image: Dr Peter Knight refuses to voluntarily destroy the book]
Dr Peter Knight refuses to voluntarily destroy the book
Her flat was raided after she took her photos of the book 'Mapplethorpe' to be developed at a chemist, who called in police.

After submitting a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the police have told the University of Central England that it could contravene the Obscene Publications Act.

They are expected to make a formal request to destroy the book.

But Dr Peter Knight, the university's Vice-Chancellor, said: "We will comply with the law but we would want this matter determined by an appropriate court.

"We would not voluntarily agree to the destruction of an academic book."

Dr Knight said the book was freely available in the British Library and could also be bought from the publishers.

He said that the student, whose Birmingham flat was raided, had used "a number of sources including Madonna's book on sex".

A year before Mapplethorpe's death in 1989 the book survived an obscenity trial in Cincinnatti in the US.

His work has also been shown at several exhibitions including a 1996 retrospective of his work at London's Hayward Gallery.

Dr Knight said they had 27 other books by the author, including a second copy of the potentially obscene title which has been passed to the university's solicitors.






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