Child sex pics case sparks review

April 9, 2004

Southampton University is considering an ethics review system after a professor was convicted of downloading child pornography.

Christopher Bagley failed to get permission to view the pictures, which he said were for research. He was arrested as part of Operation Ore, a police investigation into internet paedophiles, after 11 floppy disks were seized at his home and office. They contained 94 pornographic images, mainly of adult men with boys.

Professor Bagley, 66, admitted 16 charges of making indecent photographs, but insisted that they were part of his research on child sex abuse.

Judge David Selwood at Portsmouth Crown Court accepted his explanation and imposed a three-year conditional discharge last Friday. It followed a two-day trial of issue to decide whether Professor Bagley had legitimate reasons for accessing the pictures.

The judge said: "I cannot be, and I am not, satisfied that the motivation for viewing the images was self-gratification and was not genuine research." He said Professor Bagley "had shown arrogance and a certain naivety, which had proved fairly lethal in this case".

A university spokesman said: "The university is already looking into the need for an internal ethics review process for these and other areas of research. We must stress, however, that the university was never informed or aware of any research that required the downloading or study of illegal images, and does not condone any illegal activity."

Professor Bagley worked in the social work studies department and had been on leave after his arrest but retired when his contract expired last September. He said after the case: "The whole procedure was entirely fair.

I have no complaints in any direction."

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