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Assurance given in hunt for gay men's killer

THE MAN in charge of the hunt for a gay serial killer yesterday gave his personal assurance to homosexuals who practise sado-masochism that they would not face prosecution if they come forward with information about the killings, writes Andrew Gliniecki.

Det Chief Supt Ken John, who met gay community leaders for 90 minutes yesterday, was addressing the concern of gay men involved in the sado-masochism scene, who fear making contact with police in case their sexual practices break the law.

Concern centres on the House of Lords ruling earlier this year that certain sado- masochistic acts were illegal, even though those taking part had consented to them. In 1990, 16 men were convicted of activities which included cutting and sandpapering each other's genitals. The case is currently being taken to the European Court of Human Rights on the basis that the judgement allegedly infringes the individual's right to privacy.

A police spokesman said yesterday: 'If anyone practising sado-masochism comes forward, we can assure them that we will not want to question them about their lifestyle. All we are interested in is getting information to catch this killer.'

He emphasised that detectives were seeking information from right across the gay community.

Police said that thay were pleased with the response they had got from leafleting the Gay Pride '93 march on Saturday. 'We have already received a number of phone calls, which will be followed up in due course,' a spokesman said.