Owners of books containing pictures of naked children taken by the photographer David Hamilton risk being arrested for possession of ?indecent photographs? and should ?destroy? the books immediately, police warn.

The alert follows a landmark British ruling at Guildford Crown Court involving 49-year-old auditor Stanley Loam from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey who was charged with being in possession of 19,000 indecent images of children.

His collection included pictures by photographer David Hamilton.

Loam argued that images by Hamilton were not indecent but were ?artistic? and said that they were freely available in books and on websites. Loam lost his case and was convicted of possession of indecent images of children.

A spokeswoman for Surrey Police urged owners of Hamilton books containing naked pictures of children to get rid of them ?unless they want to be arrested?.

Detective Constable Simon Ledger of Surrey Police said: ?It is no defence in law to say pictures of naked children are ?artistic?.?

Piers Burnett, editorial director of Aurum Press, the publisher of three of Hamilton?s books expressed surprise at the court decision, adding that Aurum Press is considering the situation surrounding the publication of Hamilton?s books in light of the case.

Burnett described ruling on Hamilton?s pictures as ?odd?, pointing out that no-one has said or done anything about such pictures since Aurum Press first published his books in 1996.

Hamilton is understood to be taking legal advice over the matter and WH Smith has subsequently withdrawn one of Hamilton?s books ? The Age of Innocence – from sale on its website.