Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), April 6, 2009
Byline: VICKY ROBSON
A HIGH Court tug of war is being waged by a couple of internet entrepreneurs and a web watchdog.
Police seized property and equipment from Anton and Kelly-Anne Vickerman when they raided their Tyneside home last year.
The couple, who run the video search engine SurfTheChannel.
com, were arrested at their home in Deckham, Gateshead, on suspicion on conspiracy to defraud.
But the decision was taken not to prosecute and the couple are now fighting to get back their computer equipment.
They say it contains confidential information vital to their company Scopelight Ltd.
In a case which raises legal issues never before considered by the courts, they are seeking a judicial ruling that the items, which the police have passed on to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), should be returned to them.
Their barrister, Donald McCue, accused police of acting as "handmaidens" of FACT , even though it is a private organisation.
This, he said, meant it does not have the "faintest right" to retain any of the property as it is simply a "commercial organisation".
The Vickermans insist their company is legitimate and is a "signpost" website containing links to other internet sites, a bit like a very comprehensive online version of the Radio Times.
But Richard Spearman, QC, representing Northumbria Police and FACT, argued FACT is entitled to hold on to the seized property while it considers a private prosecution.
He described the Vickermans' challenge as "an ambitious and misconceived attempt to stymie a private prosecution".
Mr Spearman went on: "In pursuit of that objective, the claimants have resorted to arguments that are as extravagant as they are novel and which, if right, would have a dramatic affect on many criminal proceedings in this country."
After two days of legal argument, Mrs Justice Sharp recognised the significance of the case by saying she would reserve her judgment to a later date..