Censor Appeal Board's decision 'contrary to natural justice', court hears

Judgment has been reserved in a High Court action brought by the owner of an 'adult' shop aimed at quashing the Censor's refusal to grant her a certificate for an 'erotic' pornographic movie.

Ms Jaqueline Byrne, Capel Street, Dublin who is the owner of 'Shauna's' adult store has taken proceedings against the Official Censor and the Censorship of Films Appeals Board where she is seeking a court order quashing the Appeal Board's decision to uphold one made by the Censor on April 19, 2004 not to give a certification to a film entitled 'Anabolic Initiations No. 5'.

She claims that Appeal Board's decision, which she was informed of in July 2006, amounted to unfair procedure and contrary to natural justice because it gave no reasons for its decision.

It is also claimed that the refusal was unreasonable and lacked proportionality. The defendants deny the claims.

Today at the High Court Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins said that he was reserving judgment and that he hoped to be in a position to give his decision before the end of the year.

In what was described as a test case Counsel for Ms Byrne Mr Anthony Collins SC said that in April 2004 his client, who sells adult movies and magazines at her store, was informed by the Official Censor that her application to have the work 'Anabolic Initiations No. 5' certified under the Video Recordings' Act was being refused.

The censor said in his decision that the work was unfit for viewing because it contained material that was "obscene or indecent" that would "deprave or corrupt persons who might view it".

That decision was appealed, and two oral hearings were held. On July 12, 2006 Ms Byrne was informed that the Appeal Board was upholding the Censor's earlier decision to prohibit the work.

Mr Collins said that the Board gave no reasons was given why certification was refused. The board, counsel said, just reiterated what the Censor had said in the decision of April 2004.

Ms Byrne was entitled to know why a certificate was not awarded. Ms Byrne, counsel said, was prejudiced because she did not know what grounds or criteria had been used to arrive at the censor's or the appeal board's decision.

Counsel for the defendants, Mr Andrew Bradley SC, said that the censor had given reasons for his refusal. The Appeals Board, he said had reaffirmed those reasons.

The defendants said that the reasons for the refusal were given to the applicant, and that fair and proper procedures were applied before the decision not to give the movie a certification under was arrived at.

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