Videos firm to challenge censors

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Film censorship in Britain is to be exposed to court scrutiny for the first time in its 70-year history.

Redemption Films, which specialises in horror and erotic videos, has been granted leave by Mr Justice Latham for a judicial review of procedures at both the British Board of Film Classification and the Video Appeals Committee.

The move follows a decision earlier this year to refuse classification to Bare Behind Bars, a film in the so-called "women in prison" genre, which Redemption had planned to release on video.

The court will be asked to rule that the clarification process adopted by the BBFC was unlawful when it refused to grant the film a video classification last September. Redemption then challenged the decision before the Video Appeals Committee. After a two-day hearing the ban was upheld.

Lawyers for Redemption Films will argue that the BBFC was neither fair nor consistent in its approach when classifying the video. They will also contend that James Ferman, the BBFC's director, was manifestly wrong in his application of the new Criminal Justice Act which deals with video classification.

This challenge will allow the court properly to consider for the first time the contentious parts of the Criminal Justice Act which deal with censorship. Redemption will also argue that it did not get a fair hearing from the Video Appeals Committee in June. It will be seeking a court order that the decision of both the censorship board and the appeals committee should be quashed.

Nigel Wingrove, who runs Redemption Films, said: "I'm hoping the judicial review will lead to a fundamental overhaul of the censorship process. Bare Behind Bars is a tongue-in-cheek sleaze epic which should not have been banned."