In 1992, a lecturer at a university in the UK was charged with possessing child pornography but later acquitted because he had legal clearance because of his research and expertise in the subject. Apparently he was cleared by the police because he was viewing them in the context of his work as legal advisor to a false memory group .
The lecturer then left his position and the false memory group. But the article does pose a few questions:
If the content of the photographs was such that they were seized by the police.:-
– Why did the false memory people send the images to the lecturer in the first place?
– Is it part of their mandate from the charity commission?
– To judge what is pornography and what is not?
But perhaps the most important question to be asked is:-
How did the false memory people manage to keep the name of their organisation out of all newspapers except for the Times Higher Ed Supp?
Reading University has lifted its year-long suspension of Dr T, an expert witness in child sex-abuse cases, and invited him to return to work. The university has been informed by Thames Valley police that they would not be bringing any charges against Dr T.
Dr T said: “On the basis of apparently anonymous and malicious calls, the police smashed in my door and took my computers, teaching materials and legal casework. Ten months on I have not been interviewed, arrested or charged, but my career has been in potential ruins.”
He was praised by Law Lords in Scotland last year for helping to overturn a conviction for child rape, which carries a seven-year sentence. He gave evidence to the House of Commons home affairs select committee last year in its investigation into miscarriages of justice arising from flawed interviews by social workers and police in child-abuse cases.
Dr T said this week there was no child pornography on any of his computers, but said images of children were present in a hard-copy file taken by the police. “They took one folder relating to a live legal case that had some images in it that were sent to me for a legal opinion by the British False Memory Society. It was material I was entitled to possess. Let me be clear – where I find that pictures clearly are obscene, I will advise that they cannot be defended.”
Dr T is entitled to protection against prosecution for possessing material as he falls into the categories of people singled out by the Child Protection Act of 1978 – academics conducting research and experts employed within the criminal justice system. But he said the problem facing academics was that the protection could be used only after prosecution. He said this was preventing important research into child pornography, and left all academics and experts open to malicious allegations.
Dr T was concerned that the police appeared to have obtained a search warrant without telling the magistrate that he was an expert witness and he was angry that the police have had access to case files.
John Brady, director of personnel at Reading, told Dr T last November that the police had informed the university that its investigations would be completed by the end of December and that there was “nothing to suggest that charges would follow”. The university would not comment.