Baldock church’s computer hard drive smashed up – reportedly destroying history of websites ‘inferring child porn’
- Credit: Archant
A vicar smashed up his church computer’s hard drive and reportedly destroyed a history of visited websites relating to child porn, as part of a far-reaching cover-up now exposed by the Comet.
A source close to the church of St Mary the Virgin in Baldock said he saw a list of website links which ‘inferred child porn’ and which were inadvertently sent from the computer in the church’s office to an architect working on restoring the church tower six years ago. Pornographic images of adults were also sent.
Rev Andrew Holford told the Comet on Monday he knew who was responsible, but instead of going to the police at the time, he reported it to the Diocese of St Albans and said he sought counsel from the bishop’s office. He maintains he only knew about the adult porn, but did seek advice from the child protection arm of the diocese.
Former chief inspector of Herts police, Mick Camp, was churchwarden and also knew but failed to inform police.
Rev Holford said: “It was a long time ago. We followed child protection procedures and consulted with all the relevant agencies.”
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But the only bodies he formally consulted were within the church.
“We did have a discussion, but I don’t think it was about taking it to the police,” he said.
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“I smashed the hard drive because I was very concerned about the mental health of the person. We wanted to stabilise him. I’m happy with the action I took.”
The man responsible is still part of the congregation and still has access to the church computer, but Rev Holford says he is confident there will be no repetition.
He added: “The church is about safety, but also about acceptance of people whose lifestyles are different from ours. That’s not saying we accept illegalities, but I accept people for who they are.”
Mr Camp said: “My ability to deal with the matter as I thought appropriate was hampered by the decision of others in that church. I subsequently took the issue to two more senior clergymen.
“Because of our dissatisfaction, my wife and I both left St Mary’s and have not returned.”
A Diocese of St Albans spokesman said: “We have robust policies in place to uphold best practice in safeguarding. The person who dealt with this case no longer works with the diocese but, based on the information received on Monday, we will review actions taken at the time and take any steps necessary to ensure our churches remain safe.”
North Herts Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley said: “We have conducted extensive enquiries into this matter and are confident no criminal offences have been disclosed at this time.
“The information we were provided with did not relate to any criminal offences.”