The Christian Institute

News Release

Telewest Arena sex market unlawful, says legal advice

The controversial event planned for Newcastle’s Telewest Arena is likely to be unlawful, according to legal advice obtained by a Christian charity. The Newcastle-based Christian Institute, which has led opposition to the event, has been advised that a sex shop licence can not cover a ‘sex market’.

Documents submitted to the Council by Xsensual Limited, which plans to hold the event, show that over 90 stalls will be provided at the event for independent exhibitors and traders. The Telewest Arena is not being turned into a sex shop but a sex market. The legal opinion says that a sex shop licence is needed by each and every independent seller of “sex articles”. Many more sex shop licences will be needed.

The Christian Institute has today written to Newcastle City Council, asking the Council urgently to respond to the legal opinion. The Institute is still awaiting a full response to its earlier letter pointing out that the licence has been granted to a company which appears legally not to exist.

Speaking today, Christian Institute Deputy Director, Simon Calvert, said:

“It was never the intention of Parliament to allow sex markets. The person who has the licence must be the person managing and operating the business. Newcastle City Council have acted as though a licence gives carte blanche for any trader in the Arena building to be covered under the terms of the licence. The Council have no idea who is coming to Newcastle to peddle their wares.

Xsensual has made no secret of the fact that it plans to allow third parties to sell their own products. Council Officials were well aware of the nature of the event.

The Council have shuffled off their responsibilities onto Xsensual which is left to decide which stalls they allow. It is the Council which is to determine who is a suitable person to run a sex shop not Xsensual. Our legal advice is that the Council has acted irrationally and gone beyond what it is entitled to do.

The Council has really made a mess of things. First it told Newcastle people who objected to the sex show that they could not attend a public meeting. At the last minute they changed their mind. Then it turned out that the Council, in its clamour to back the licence, failed to make straightforward checks on the completed licence application form.

Now there is a very serious question mark as to whether the Council are even entitled to grant the licence that they did. Our legal advice is that they are not and that the event proposed is highly likely to be unlawful.”