Piracy Charges Dropped After Evidence Shown on TV

Tod Hunter
PAISLEY, Scotland — The trial of a man charged with owning unlicensed adult films and pirated CDs has collapsed because evidence seized in a raid on his former home was compromised and shown on TV.

The case was dropped after the defendant's attorney obtained a copy of TV news footage from the September 2004 raid on the man's previous residence. Officers opened a sealed plastic bag containing DVDs and computer games and pulled them out to show them to the camera, making the displayed materials unusable as evidence. The footage was aired the night of the raid.

Criminal lawyer Gordon Ritchie had objected after learning that items taken in the raid on his client’s former home had been interfered with on national TV.

Hundreds of pieces of evidence were seized in the raid. The defendant had been charged with unlawful possession of the items for the purpose of sale, having X-rated material classified for sale only through sex shops and being in breach of copyright law. When the case was due to go to trial, the defendant's lawyer was told the case would not proceed.

"The irony here is that the prosecution failed due to their efforts to give high-profile publicity to subject matter such as this,” attorney Ritchie said. In the U.S., the Free Speech Coalition has announced the formation of a task force to study piracy of adult material.