A photograph owned by singer songwriter Sir Elton John seized by police is not indecent, the Crown Prosecution Service has announced.

The image, taken by renowned American photographer Nan Goldin, was due to go on display as part of her Thanksgiving series at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead when a concerned member of gallery staff contacted police.

The photograph, Klara and Edda Belly Dancing, features two semi naked young girls playing.

It has attracted controversy as one of the girls is sitting with her legs open.

The photograph was on loan from Elton John’s private collection.

Goldin’s fine art and documentary-based work, which is often inspired by her own experiences has attracted controversy in the past.

Police received complaints about her photographs featuring naked children at an exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2001.

Kerrie Bell, head of the CPS Northumbria South Unit, said today:

“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.

“Accordingly, I am of the opinion that the evidence is insufficient to justify proceedings for offences of possession or distribution of an indecent photograph.”

Last month, Sir Elton released a statement: “The photograph exists as part of the installation as a whole and has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world.

“It can be found in the monograph of Ms Goldin’s works entitled The Devil’s Playground (Phaidon, 2003), has been offered for sale at Sotheby’s New York in 2002 and 2004, and has previously been exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich without any objections of which we are aware.”

Sir Elton is one of the world’s foremost collectors of photographic art and has several thousand photographs, including works by Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams.