Mudcat Café message #865242 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55237   Message #865242
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
12-Jan-03 - 12:06 PM
Thread Name: PEL UK - Unemployed Artist Dancer - look
Subject: RE: PEL UK - Unemployed Artist Dancer - look
Talk about "spontaneous" and "impromptu" and so forth is beside the point. What Howells or anybody else says about the intention of the Act in Parliament or anywhere else is completely irrelevant.

All that matters in court is what the Act actually says.

Simon Hoggart gave an illustration of this in a Guardian column this week about where he explained how the late Roy Jenkins, who had as Home Secretary steered the Obscene Publications Act though Parliament, found the Act being used in a court case to stop publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover, clean contradictory to what he had intended. In fact he had reassured the House of Commons that the Act could never be used to suppress serious literature:

In English law it is forbidden to have legislators explain in court what they were trying to do. Instead the court has to consider only the words which appear in the statute. Penguin's counsel decided to give it a go. Jenkins appeared in the witness box for the defence. His evidence lasted a few seconds. He was asked if it was his act under which the publishers were being charged, and he replied: "Yes, and if I had thought for one moment that this book..."

The prosecution's furious objection was upheld. But the point had been made. No wonder the jury cleared the book and its publisher.

But I can't see Kim Howells having either the inclination or the savoir faire to do anything like that for us in similar circumstances.