Did Neil Parish commit a criminal offence under the Indecent Displays (Control) Act of 1981?

Last night Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic abuse and safeguarding, said that it appeared that Parish “of his own admission” had committed a criminal offence under the Indecent Displays (Control) Act of 1981.

 Extract from www.theguardian.com

The act states that: “If any indecent matter is publicly displayed the person making the display and any person causing or permitting the display to be made shall be guilty of an offence.”

It adds that: “Any matter which is displayed in or so as to be visible from any public place shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be publicly displayed.”

Sentences range from a fine to up to two years in prison.

Phillips, who said the law was not widely known about and therefore not often enforced, told the Observer: “If this law was to be applied it appears he has committed an offence by his own admission.”

Phillips said Labour would now call for a full review into the law’s application and how many charges had been brought under it. She said a public information campaign should also be launched as a matter of urgency to enable people to know that watching porn where others could see it was already illegal, including on public transport.

Phillips said: “There are plenty of laws on the statute books that are meant to protect women and girls in society, however they are not enacted. They are very rarely enacted appropriately.

“People don’t know they can complain about it. What we will do now is look into where charging has and hasn’t happened [under this law], such as on transport networks where people watch it on the bus next you.”

She added that greater awareness of the act would not be enough, but charges needed to be brought under it to demonstrate to people that watching pornography in public was completely unacceptable and would lead to prosecutions.

On Friday Parish had referred himself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, for investigation, but had said he would only stand down if found guilty. He said yesterday he changed his mind after realising the pressure he was putting his family under and the damage he was doing to his party.

Parish was identified and stripped of the whip on Friday afternoon after two female colleagues had claimed last week they had seen him looking at adult content on his phone while sitting near them in the chamber.