U.K. Mail-Order Operators Plead Guilty to Obscenity Charges

LONDON — A London court on Monday found two entrepreneurs of an adult DVD-catalog mail-order business guilty on obscenity charges.

Southwark Crown Court Judge Peter Fingret rejected suspended sentences and ordered the pair — Tehsin Panju and Hitendra Patel — jailed.

Each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to publish obscene content, with Panju also admitting three money-laundering counts.

Prosecutor Natasha Tahta said that when police raided the Direct Media offices in July 2008, they needed five trucks to haul away 38 pallets containing the adult material, which numbered in the “hundreds of thousands.”

Tahta also said police confiscated DVD-replicating equipment, as well as the seven-year-old company’s client database that included “thousands of names.” She said the pair sold the videos for about $13 apiece.

"This is to date the largest seizure of pornographic material the Met's Obscene Publications Squad has ever dealt with," Tahta said.

Fingret, however, said that he couldn’t determine just how much of the material was obscene. Prosecutors said that about one-quarter of the pair’s inventory was obscene, while their defense lawyers argued it amounted to less than one percent.

“It was not possible for me to determine the true proportion,” Fingret said in his ruling. “However, the scale of the operation, even on the basis of a small percentage, would necessarily involve a large number of obscene DVDs.

"I do not accept that the principal objective was to provide for the needs of your customers,” he said. “The primary objective was clearly to make money from what was, on any view, a lucrative and seedy business.”

At XBIZ press time it wasn’t determined the sentence lengths of the West London businessmen, nor was it determined the genres of adult DVDs prosecuted by the government.