U.K. Blogger Facing Obscenity Charge for Rape Story

Tod Hunter
NEWCASTLE, England — A man is being prosecuted on charges of publishing a story on the Internet detailing the kidnap, torture, mutilation and murder of the U.K. pop group Girls Aloud.

Darryn Walker, 35, will appear before a judge later this month to face charges of writing and posting the blog on a fantasy porn website. The case is the first test of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act since the rise of the Internet, and is one of the few involving written words. The Act, which has never been updated, makes it illegal to publish material that tends to "deprave and corrupt" those reading or viewing it. The act was used in 1960 to prosecute Penguin Books for publishing D.H. Lawrence's novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover."

The blog article was headlined "Girls (Scream) Aloud" and reportedly described in detail the rape and killing of the girl group. Although the website is hosted elsewhere, prosecution was based on the alleged author being identified as a British citizen living in the UK.

The Internet Watch Foundation, an independent group dedicated to finding and reporting illegal online content, discovered the blog last year and informed the Crown Prosecution Service. Walker was arrested in February at his home in South Shields, near Newcastle, by officers from Scotland Yard's Obscene Publications Unit.

Walker was charged with the publication of an obscene article on July 10, and entered no plea before South Tyneside Magistrates, where he was granted unconditional bail. He is due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court later this month.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said it was unusual to see a prosecution which did not involve images. She said, "The vast majority of prosecutions brought under the Obscene Publications Act have related to images; be they photographs, computer-generated images or videos. It is very unusual to be prosecuted for a case involving the written word."

Girls Aloud became well-known in the U.K. in 2002 after appearing on a reality music show. They have had a record-breaking 18 consecutive top 10 singles. The group is made up of Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl Cole, who is now a judge on another reality music show.