A legal blunder made 25 years ago means that retailers selling adult rated games and DVDs to children can no longer be prosecuted for their actions.
Dozens of prosecutions made under the Video Recordings Act, brought in by Margaret Thatcher's government in 1984, have been dropped after it emerged an administration error meant the European Commission hadn't been notified of the law.
The BBC reports that culture, media and sport minister Barbara Follett has written to the industry bodies to inform them the act is "no longer enforceable". She has, however, asked them to handle the situation with "care and sensitivity" to ensure "minimal" advantage is taken of the loophole.
She added the government hoped to remedy the "unfortunate situation" as quickly as possible, although passing the law again will take at least three months.
In the meantime, retailers have agreed to keep to the rules on a voluntary basis, while previous prosecutions under the act will still stand. ELSPA has also urged its members to continue to put games forward for rating until a solution is found.
"Our legal advice is that those previously prosecuted will be unable to overturn their prosecution or receive financial recompense," a government spokesperson told the BBC.
Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was "outrageous" such an error could go unnoticed for so many years, adding, "Much of the problem would have been avoided if they had sorted out the classification of video games earlier, as we and many others in the industry have been urging them to do."
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