Leading Article: A legal spanner in the works

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When should people be free to mutilate their consenting friends? As far as the law is concerned, never. That is why it would have been absurd for the European Court to do anything other than support the convictions in the Operation Spanner case. How could a court decide where consent ended and coercion began? Impossible.

But the real lesson of this case is that it should not have been brought to court. No one complained of an offence being committed. No other person's decency or privacy was invaded. No one was prevented from complaining by fear or intimidation. Better to have left it behind closed doors.