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9th December
2008
  

Baby Gymnastics...

Australian arrested for re-posting alarming YouTube video

Live Leak logo A video sharing website user who re-posted somebody else's video of a man apparently swinging a baby around has had his house raided by an armed Australian police anti-paedophile squad.

The user Biggles9 has been charged with accessing child abuse material, downloading child abuse material and uploading child abuse material with the intent to distribute . He is out on bail and is due to appear in court 18 December. He posted the clip, which he found on MetaCafe, to LiveLeak, a UK-based citizen journalism site.

The Queensland-based Task Force Argos allegedly acted on information supplied by British police. They arrested him and seized computer equipment. They questioned Biggles9 for about seven hours.

According to LiveLeak founder Hayden Hewitt, who has been in regular contact with the long-time member since he was charged, Biggles9 did not ask for a lawyer to be present because he did not believe there was any case to answer. Hewitt said he had been told that the clip Biggles9 uploaded to LiveLeak was the only data of interest that the police's digital forensic search found.

According to Hewitt, Biggles9 found the clip on YouTube, via MetaCafe, which aggregates video sites. It was also available on several other video sharing sites. LiveLeak and YouTube have removed the footage, but it is still accessible elsewhere on the web.

It shows a man described as being of eastern European appearance in what appears to be a living room with a sofa and TV, and a baby in a nappy. The man picks up the baby and begins swinging it around very fast, at first by its two arms and then by one. Later, he turns the baby through somersaults. At the end of the performance he holds the baby normally and approaches the camera. The baby smiles.

It's currently unclear what prompted the raid on Biggles9's home by armed police. A few days after the clip was posted, Hewitt was contacted by a child protection group based in the US, which asked if he had any information about the source of the video. Hewitt didn't, but added an appeal on the page hosting it for anyone with information to get in touch. Soon after, Gloucestershire police asked him to remove it on grounds that people might copy what they saw. LiveLeak declined to remove the clip.

About a month later, Task Force Argos raided Biggles9. He contacted Hewitt and requested the clip be taken down on the advice of his lawyers, which LiveLeak did.

In his post-arrest blog, Biggles9 wrote: I'm just trying to warn all the uploaders and moderators to be very careful of what is posted and approved when it comes to children; no one needs to go through this crap over something that is so petty. H e added he is confident sanity will prevail.

 

5th September
2009
  

Update: Menace of Overly Cautious Do Gooders...

Australian police continue to persecute uploader for widely available video rated MA15+

Swinging Baby video Queensland Police want to send a man to jail for up to 20 years on child-abuse charges over a video the Federal Government's own censors have classified as MA15+.

Chris Illingworth was charged late last year with accessing and uploading child-abuse material after he published, on a video-sharing site, a video of a man swinging a baby around like a rag doll.

Despite having no involvement in the creation of the three-minute clip, he was committed to a trial by jury in the District Court on July 8. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for each of the two charges.

Illingworth's solicitor, Chelsea Emery has said that, if the case goes ahead, every Australian who surfs the net could be vulnerable to police prosecution.

But the Australian Communications and Media Authority, responding to a complaint about the video on July 9, sent the clip to the Classification Board, which classified the content MA15+.

Under the Classification Board's guidelines, the impact of MA15+ material should be no higher than strong and violence and strong themes should be justified by context. MA15+ material is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age.

As a result of the Classification Board's decision, the content is not prohibited under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, read a letter from ACMA, seen by this website.

Queensland Police has said any Australians who simply view the clip could face a maximum of 10 years in jail but today it refused to comment on the apparent disparity between its and the Classification Board's definition of child-abuse material.

The information on the Classification Board's classification decision has been passed on to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. A spokesman said Illingworth's case would be reviewed.

It is not suggested that the Classification Board's decision to give the content a relatively minor MA15+ rating will have any bearing on Illingworth's trial, but the case has caused much controversy because the clip has already been shown on numerous Australian and US TV news shows and can still be found online today.

The video was just one of hundreds that Illingworth has uploaded to the Liveleak video sharing website as an administrator of the site.

This decision by the Classification Board shows either that the criminal definitions [of child abuse material] are too broad, or that the police and the public prosecutors are overly enthusiastic in bringing criminal charges under those provisions, Nic Suzor, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said.

In the Queensland Police brief of evidence, Susan Cadzow, specialist pediatrician at Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital, said she thought the clip represented child abuse: The child's demeanour at the end of the video would seemingly suggest that no significant injury has occurred. However, it does not exclude the presence of a [hidden] injury, Cadzow said in her statement.

 

10th September
2009
  

Update: Swinging too Far towards a Vindictive Nanny State...

All charges dropped against baby swinging video uploader

Swinging Baby video A Queensland man plans to sue police who arrested and charged him for child abuse offences after he uploaded a video of a man apparently recklessly swinging a baby to a video website.

Australian prosecutors have dropped all charges against Chris Illingworth opening the door to a compensation claim.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to proceed with the case. The decision follows soon after censors responded to a separate complaint about the clip by giving it the equivalent of a 15 rating.

This prosecution was discontinued yesterday after the matter was reviewed... taking into account all of the circumstances involved including the classification given to the material by the Classification Board, prosecutors said.