NORTH-EAST legal experts say tougher measures are needed to tackle extreme pornography on the internet.

Academics at Durham University spoke out after musician Graham Coutts, of Sussex, was jailed for life for murdering teacher Jane Longhurst with a pair of tights to fulfil a perverted sex fantasy.

He was found guilty after a re-trial at the Old Bailey, which was told he was obsessed with violent pornography that he viewed on the internet.

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His conviction follows Government proposals to criminalise possession of extreme pornography in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which had its first reading last week.

His case was cited by the Government in its first consultation on extreme pornography as evidence of an increasing public concern about the availability of such material on the internet.

While broadly supporting the proposed measures, Professor Clare McGlynn and Dr Erika Rackley, of Durham University's department of law, are concerned that they do not go far enough.

The term "extreme pornography" covers bestiality, necrophilia, acts which threaten a person's life (or appear to threaten it) and acts which result in (or appear to result in) serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals.

Professor McGlynn said: "The conviction of Graham Coutts does not show that there is a casual link between looking at extreme pornography and sexual violence.

"Nevertheless, the prevalence of extreme pornography sustains a culture in which rape and sexual violence are normalised and legitimated; in which a woman's 'no' is not taken seriously, as evidenced by the low conviction rate for rape.

"It is not clear that the horrific rape websites, which are widely and freely available on the internet, are covered by the measures contained in the new Bill.

"We consider that these websites should clearly be covered."

Professor McGlynn and Dr Rackley have suggested that the Bill be amended to include pornographic rape websites.

Dr Rackley said: "We are concerned with violence against women, rather than a moral agenda to limit expressive sexual material.

"These websites appear to do nothing less than legitimate and encourage gaining sexual arousal from forced sex."