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the Spanner Trust
Norvin House
45-55 Commercial St
London E1 6BD
UK

the Spanner Trust Web Site Home Page

SEXUAL LAW REFORM STILL LEAVES GOV’T OPEN TO HRA CHALLENGE

29 JANUARY 2003
The Sexual Offences Reform Bill published by the government today doesn’t go far enough and still leaves the human rights of some adults infringed as far as their sex lives are concerned.

So says Derek Cohen, secretary of The Spanner Trust which has been working to overturn court rulings made over the past twelve years. These decisions meant that consenting adults who caused non serious injuries during their sexual activity could and in some cases were sent to prison.

In December 1990 sixteen men were convicted for causing marks, bruises, cuts and other non-serious injuries in the course of sexual activity with other consenting adults. Some were sent to prison. The police investigation leading to their arrest was known as “Operation Spanner”.

Since then a number of court cases have caused greater confusion with defendants being convicted or acquitted seemingly at random. And one judge, using a couple’s married status as the reason for his acquittal, exposed the way the courts discriminate against people based on their sexuality.

The Spanner Trust has taken advice from leading human rights lawyers Ben Emmerson QC and Rabinder Singh QC of Matrix Chambers. Their opinion is that the uncertainty in the law as it applies to injuries inflicted during adult consensual sexual activity contravenes Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights. [VIEW]

“The Spanner Trust warned the government that the current law contravenes the human rights of consenting adults who engage in sexual activities which cause non-serious injury,” said Cohen. “But they have chosen not to redress this injustice. It’s a pity because aside from this the Sexual Offences Bill is extremely comprehensive, covering nearly every other aspect of sexual activity.”

Cohen said that if the bill was passed without a suitable amendment the Spanner Trust would make a free standing application in the High Court forcing the government to change the law anyway.

Contact details:
Derek Cohen, secretary, The Spanner Trust, 07970 988425
John Lovatt, legal officer, The Spanner Trust 020 7247 9336


The Spanner Trust always tries to ensure that all information provided is accurate and up-to-date. However, the law can change and is open to interpretation. Before relying upon any statement made by the Spanner Trust you should take your own independent legal advice and the Spanner Trust cannot accept any liability whatsoever.