Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 12:22 UK

Mother's porn law campaign ends

Jane Longhurst
Graham Coutts strangled Jane Longhurst with a pair of tights

A mother whose daughter was murdered by a man addicted to violent internet porn has completed her fight to have such images banned.

Jane Longhurst, 31, was strangled by Graham Coutts, 39, from Hove, Sussex. He was jailed for at least 26 years.

Her mother Liz, from Berkshire, backed by Reading West MP Martin Salter, campaigned for three years to ban violent online porn.

The ban is part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

Possession of sexually violent images will now be punishable by up to three years in jail.

The bill had its final reading on Thursday where it received Royal Assent.

Sometimes the freedoms of like-minded, decent people have to be curtailed because of a few others
Liz Longhurst
Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer - who is responsible under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act (OPA) - to the consumer.

Campaigners fear the new law risks criminalising thousands of people who use violent pornographic images as part of consensual sexual relationships.

Mrs Longhurst, of Reading, said she was aware that libertarians saw her as "a horrible killjoy".

"Sometimes the freedoms of like-minded, decent people have to be curtailed because of a few others.

"I know some would argue women choose to do this. But I believe a lot of women who have been trafficked are forced to be on these sites."

Not a 'moral crusade'

Mrs Longhurst believes if the sites had not been available for Coutts to look at, her daughter would still be alive.

"It made it seem all right. I think he knew from quite a young age that it wasn't really all right.

"But I think he thought: 'Well, there are all these sites, I'm not the only one and it must be all right really' and so he just went with the flow."

Mr Salter said the campaign was not a "moral crusade" but targeted the "violent end of the market - material that was already illegal but with the advent of the internet was unregulated".

"This is the combination of a three-year campaign waged by Liz Longhurst and myself, which garnered the support of church groups, women's organisations, 189 MPs, and generated 50,000 signatures on a national petition," he said.

Liz Longhurst, Jane Longhurst's mother
Liz Longhurst: Fought three-year campaign

Under the new law, pornographic material which depicts necrophilia, bestiality or violence which is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals is outlawed.

The Ministry of Justice said the offence would be enforced by individual police forces, by officers who were "already working on protecting the public in this field".

A spokesman said it expected the number of prosecutions would be relatively small.

He said: "The new law is not intended to target those who accidentally come into contact with obscene pornography, nor would it target the mainstream entertainment industry, which works within current obscenity laws, or those who sell bondage material legally available in the UK.

"The material to be covered by the ban is already illegal to publish and distribute in the UK under the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) 1959 but can be accessed in the UK from abroad via the internet.

"Legislating in this area will ensure that the possession of such material is illegal both on and off line."


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