Here’s a tip – googling “pig f*!king images” to illustrate a humorous news story is not always a good idea.
Anyway. Our illustrious Prime Minister, The Right Hon David Cameron, lit up twitter on 20th September 2015 after it came to light that whilst he was a student he may have taken part in a student induction game which involved him inserting his penis into the mouth of a pig.
The pig was dead (his head had been cut off and was resting on the lap of a fellow member of the Piers Gaveston Society).
If this happened (and there’s good reasons to be sceptical), then this is obviously a bit embarrassing for Mr Cameron. But is it a criminal offence?
This was all some time ago, but we’ll look at what the law would be now in case the stress of high office overwhelms the PM and he decides to seek some porcine relief.
Is this a criminal offence?
It probably feels like it should be, doesn’t it? But that’s not always a good guide.
The starting point would be the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It is an offence under s69 to have sexual intercourse with an animal. However, this requires that “what is penetrated is the vagina or anus of a living animal“.
So this fails on two counts – penetration of the mouth is not illegal, and the animal has to be living. There is an offence of penetration of a corpse (s70), which makes it a criminal offence to penetrate any part of a corpse, but this is only a human corpse.
Rumour has it that there is a photograph of the act. Now, this is different. It is an oddity in English and Welsh sexual offences law that it is sometime a criminal offence to take a picture of a lawful act.
It is an offence under s63 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 to have possession of an ‘extreme pornographic image’. This is an image that is both ‘pornographic’ and ‘extreme’. ‘Extreme’ is defined under s63(7)(d) as including a “person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive)“.
But, it also has to be “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.” We haven’t seen the image, but it may be that it would fall into this category.
So far so good. But there is another hurdle. Is this ‘pornographic’? “An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal“.
We would have to say that it doesn’t appear to fall in to that category.
What about a ‘catch all’ offence such as ‘outraging public decency’? We’ve looked at this before. The requirements are that there must be an act which satisfies the following conditions :
“(1) it must be lewd, obscene or disgusting to such an extent as to outrage minimum standards of public decency as judged by the jury (or other tribunal of fact) in contemporary society;
(2) it must occur in a place which is accessible to or within view of the public; and
(3) two or more persons must be present during the act or display, whether or not they are aware of the act or display or are outraged by it”
It looks like (3) is comfortably covered. What about (1)? Again, many people would think so. And as for (2)? We imagine that everyone that was there were more than happy with what was going on. Did the public have access to the place? It’s difficult to know for sure, but possibly.
In which case, this would be a matter for a jury to determine issue number (1).
There’s no specific criminal offence of having oral sex with a pig (dead or alive). The fact that Parliament limited bestiality offences in the Sexual Offences Act to anal and vaginal penetration, presumably means that they were relatively relaxed about other forms of penetration.
Having said that, it’s best not to take it as a green light to start romancing a pig’s head. If done in public, it’s a criminal offence. If you do it in private however, although it may be unsavoury, unhygienic, and immoral, it’s not illegal.