Oral Answers to Questions — Medical Author's Book (Prosecution).

– in the House of Commons on 8th July 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the recent prosecution of the medical author and the publishers of an alleged obscene book; whether he is aware that the jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the judge dismissed the case; why the proceedings were instituted; and whether he is satisfied that those who initiated the prosecution are fully competent to discriminate between obscenity and the serious consideration of biological and psychological questions?

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

I am aware of the facts stated. The attention of the Home Office having been drawn to this book it was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions and, after full consideration of all the relevant questions, the prosecuting authorities decided that there was, prima facie, a case for seeking the decision of a court. The book was accordingly submitted to the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, who granted process at common law against the author and publishers. The case was heard at the Central Criminal Court, with the result of which my hon. Friend is aware. If my hon. Friend's suggestion is that acquittal by a court necessarily implies that proceedings ought not to have been taken, I am unable to agree.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Is it not highly desirable to distinguish between pornography on the one hand and literature of this kind on the other, and will my hon. Friend take steps to see that such a distinction is made?

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

My hon. Friend is aware that there is no kind of censorship and that in a case of this kind it is impossible to predict with absolute accuracy what the findings of a jury will be. I think that in this case both the Home Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions have shown a commendable vigilance.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

May I take it that the Home Office is satisfied with the results of the proceedings at the trial?

Photo of Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson , Birmingham Handsworth

Does my hon. Friend propose to circulate this book among Members of Parliament so that they can decide whether it is what it is alleged to be?