HC Deb 10 February 1992 vol 203 c650
33. Mr. Hind

To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to his answer of 23 January, Official Report, column 269, how many representations he has received concerning the publication of further works of the Marquis de Sade in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell)

Since 23 January, I have received two letters on the topic of "Juliette" from hon. Members, but none relating to any other work by the same author.

Mr. Hind

Will my right hon. and learned Friend look again at the book "Juliette"? As a member of the Bar myself, I found it difficult to understand why a book that combines the subjects of heterosexual activity with those of children, torture and violence is not considered obscene. If my right hon. and learned Friend wants an independent but much cheaper legal opinion than that which he is receiving from the Crown prosecution service, I shall be more than willing to provide him with one—to prosecute Arrow Books for publishing that work.

The Solicitor-General

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for that offer. The Director of Public Prosecutions' decision was taken after careful consideration and with the benefit of advice of junior and senior Treasury counsel of great experience. In their view, on all the evidence—including that relating to the statutory defences, but not confined to them—there is insufficient evidence to offer a realistic prospect of conviction.

Mr. Cormack

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that most of us who have looked at this thing find it absolutely incomprehensible that the book has not been the subject of a prosecution? If the director's decision is correct, does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the law needs re-examining?

The Solicitor-General

That is not a matter for me, but it may assist my hon. Friend to know that a number of successful prosecutions are brought every month under the legislation in relation to the type of material that is more normally associated with the Obscene Publications Act 1959.