Newsagent fights to keep his top-shelf clean

A London newsagent who for 17 years has fought to keep his shop pornography-free has won an apology and offer of compensation from WH Smith News, which he says wrongly sent him hundreds of top-shelf magazines.

Hamdy Shahein, 54, an Egyptian-born Muslim, claimed that the "bombardment" of "offensive" material amounted to a breach of his human rights and began legal action against the wholesale distributor. Over five years, the newsagent collected around 1,800 magazines and newspapers sent by the company that he considered to be pornographic.

After meetings with Mr Shahein and his MP, Diane Abbott, the companyoffered to settle the case with a payment of £5,500. The sum is to cover the cost of material he has been charged for but did not want and includes an additional amount as a "gesture of goodwill" as well as £1,500 for his legal fees.

But Mr Shahein, a winner of many awards whose anti-porn campaign is supported by womens' groups, MPs and other newsagents, said that he would reject the offer, which he described as "derisory", and pursue the human rights case. He said: "This is not really about money but about a principle. I still want them to guarantee that they won't keep sending me any more material. They can't simply make me go away me with this derisory sum. For the sake of what I have been fighting for over the last 17 years I have to make my point."

Mr Shahein began his campaign in 1989 after embarrassing incidents with customers led him to believe that newsagents should not have to sell pornography. Mr Shahein challenged the company over its policy of distributing pornography under a system known as "box-out", under which a pre-packed selection of titles was packed off to retailers. n 1996, partly as a result of the campaign, W H Smith News changed the system to one where retailers could opt out of selling porn. For five years all was quiet and Mr Shahein received no more unwanted titles. But then in 2001 he once again began receiving unsolicited magazines. "This time I decided to take legal action," he said. He accused W H Smith News of breaching his human rights, specifically articles 8 and 9, to a private life and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

But W H Smith News, which distributes 3,000 titles to 22,000 retailers, says that Mr Shahein has not been deliberately targeted or bombarded with offensive material. Nevertheless, a spokesman conceded that "mistakes" had been made in Mr Shahein's case and that was why the company had offered him compensation.

W H Smith News also met Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, to discuss the general issue of supply and display of adult titles. Mr Shahein hoped that meeting would prompt both a guarantee that he would not be sent unsolicited material and an improved compensation offer.

But the company's letter concluded: "Having reconsidered the case in the light of the constructive meeting with the Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP, we stand by our offer of compensation."

Last month, Mr Shahein was named as the best neighbourhood newsagent in the Living London Awards by readers of The Independent and listeners of the radio station LBC 97.3.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam