Seized Elton photo judged not indecent

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LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) A photograph owned by Elton John which was seized by police at a gallery as part of a child pornography probe is not an indecent image, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said today.

The photo, entitled ''Klara And Edda Belly-Dancing'', had been removed from an exhibition at the Baltic gallery in Gateshead last month after management had sought advice before it was put on public display.

The photograph is of two young girls, one of whom has her legs apart.

Northumbria CPS said it had told police there was insufficient evidence to justify proceedings for possession or distribution of an indecent photograph.

It said it had investigated the picture by US photographer Nan Goldin in 2001 when it was part of another exhibition at the Saatchi gallery in London and had decided then that it was not indecent.

Kerrie Bell, head of CPS Northumbria's South Unit, added: ''In order to prove that the photograph is indecent we must be satisfied that contemporary standards of propriety are so different now to what they were in 2001, that it is more likely than not that a court will conclude that the photograph is indecent. I am not satisfied that is the case.

''Even if the photograph was now considered to be indecent, a defendant would be able to raise a legitimate defence, given that the photograph was distributed for the purposes of display in a contemporary art gallery after having been deemed not to be indecent by the earlier investigation.'' Called ''Thanksgiving'', the Gateshead exhibition was due to have shown 149 of Goldin's pictures.

Klara And Edda Belly-Dancing had been exhibited in the Saatchi gallery in London in 2001 as part of the ''I Am A Camera'' exhibition.

Elton John had said on his Web site that the photograph was part of an installation which had been exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich ''without any objections of which we are aware'' and was offered for sale at Sotheby's in New York in 2002 and 2004.

Goldin is renowned for her work among gay and transvestite communities in the United States.

REUTERS SS KP1746

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