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How British police put 16 men in the dock for consensual sadomasochism

In the late 1980s in the UK, Roland Jaggard was part of a loose-knit group of men who engaged in, and occasionally videotaped, consensual sadomasochistic same-sex acts. While Jaggard acknowledged that aspects of his sex life were ‘not to everyone’s taste’, he never imagined that it would cost him his job, unleash a tabloid-fuelled public outcry, and land him and 15 other men in prison. The UK filmmaker Charlie Lyne’s vertical video Lasting Marks delves into the history and complicated legacy of the UK-wide police investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Spanner’, that cost more than £2.5 million and saw around 100 men questioned over their sex lives. In court, the prosecution argued that consent wasn’t a defence for causing bodily harm, creating a precedent that still holds in UK law today. Composed exclusively of photocopied documents, Jaggard’s voice and a sparse score, the film skilfully explores the evolving and uncertain boundaries between public and private life, what’s socially acceptable and what’s taboo, and how the state tries to police sexual behaviours.

Director: Charlie Lyne

Producers: Catherine Bray, Anthony Ing

Websites: Field of Vision, Loop

23 August 2019

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