The former mayor and internet porn: No action over ‘momentary lapse’ with council laptop

Cllr Kit Owen.

Cllr Kit Owen. - Credit: Archant

NO action will be taken against one of Fenland’s longest-serving councillors who unintentionally downloaded hundreds of pornographic images on to his work laptop.

Cllr Kit Owen.

Cllr Kit Owen. - Credit: Archant

Councillor Kit Owen, a five-time Mayor of March and a member of Fenland District Council for 34 years, watched in horror last month as 1,400 images and 17 videos embedded themselves on to his week-old computer.

Cllr Owen at the Fenland District Council election count in 2011.

Cllr Owen at the Fenland District Council election count in 2011. - Credit: Archant

He admitted “foolishly” making a pornographic internet search but said he “neither sought nor intended” to download the material.

The images were found by council technicians when Cllr Owen took the laptop in to remove the virus which had caused the explicit material to download.

Despite resigning from the cabinet, Cllr Owen rejected calls by chief executive Paul Medd to quit the council.


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Yesterday, the council’s conduct committee considered the internet and e-mail usage policy and decided to take no action against Cllr Owen. Councillor Michael Humphrey, council chairman, said: “Whilst this is not desirable, the fact that it will be public knowledge is something that Cllr Owen has to carry.

“I wouldn’t want to see a man’s reputation destroyed by a momentary lapse.”

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Cllr Owen had insisted that a “simple and lawful internet search produced a stream of images which I neither sought nor intended to be downloaded”.

In a statement to the committee, he said: “I do not, and most would agree I have no need to, apologise for my internet usage in my own home in my own time.

“What happened on this one-off occasion was that, despite having three personal computers, I foolishly used my ‘works’ computer for an innocent internet search that, through a million-to-one chance, offered me more than I sought and more than I bargained for.

“The threat of ‘publicity’ haunted me for a time, but on reflection I am confident members of the public are not naïve or fools and will see nothing improper in my conduct.”

Monitoring officer Ian Hunt told the committee: “The internet report shows activity on pornographic internet sites between 19:11 and 19:39 on Friday, February 1, 2013. This activity is interspersed with other websites including Twitter, Cambs Times, etc.”

In his response to the allegations, Cllr Owen said: “My whole life, like many others, has always been about not making rash judgements, nor being unfair to those who can find themselves facing a maelstrom through one single, unlikely ever to be repeated, moment of weakness or indiscretion.”

The conduct committee also heard unrelated complaints against other councillors, including council leader Alan Melton and the Mayor of March, Councillor Jan French.

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