A Crown Prosecution Service barrister has reportedly asked a trial witness whether people who attend sexual health clinics do so because they engaged in risky sexual practices.

Simon Walsh, a gay barrister and former mayoral aide, is standing trial under section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 at Kingston Crown Court.

That law makes it an offence to possess “an extreme pornographic image”, which is “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” and depicts an action that is either life-threatening, or likely to result in “serious injury” to a person’s anus, breasts or genitalia.

Solicitor Myles Jackman was granted permission to tweet live from the courtroom using the hashtag #porntrial.

Today, he tweeted as evidence was given by Dr Clarissa Smith, Reader in Sexualities and Culture, University of Sunderland, for the defence.

Mr Walsh denies the charges which relate to images found in a personal email account, in particular depictions of gay fisting, the insertion of a hand into the anus.

At the trial, references were made by Dr Smith to recent findings of the three-yearly Gay Men’s Sexual Health Survey.

Mr Jackman’s Twitter feed indicated that of the 12,000 responses to the survey considered, 12.8 percent had engaged in fisting in the last year.

Some of the responses were gathered by sending the survey to sexual health clinics.

A CPS barrister, whose identity is so far unclear, is then reported to have asked the witness: “People who attend sexual health clinics engage in more risky practices, do they not?”

Dr Smith is said to have told him: “No, people who attend sexual health clinics take their sexual health seriously.”

Journalist, lawyer and legal commentator David Allen Green tweeted: “Astonishing that CPS have contended in Court that people who attend sexual health clinics engage in more risky practices.”

Lisa Power, Policy Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Terrence Higgins Trust is concerned to learn that a Crown Prosecution Service barrister has suggested that attending a sexual health clinic infers that someone is engaged in ‘more risky sexual practices’.

“We have written to the Crown Prosecution Service asking them to clarify their barrister’s statement and to acknowledge that encouraging people who are sexually active in any way to get a sexual health check is both government policy and good practice.”

The CPS could not confirm the barrister’s statement to PinkNews.co.uk this afternoon. The trial continues.