2004-09-07 10:07:14 UTC
charged. Perhaps some of those who pilloried him at the time will now have
the good grace to apologise. Or maybe not....
Former Mayor Cleared of Computer Child Indecency Charges
By Tom Wilkinson, PA News
A former elected mayor who was accused of holding indecent images of boys on
his computer was cleared off all charges in court today.
Conservative Chris Morgan, 35, stood down as Mayor of North Tyneside last
year as he vowed to clear his name.
The married former accountant, of Tynedale Avenue, Whitley Bay, was cleared
at Hull Crown Court of five sample charges of making an indecent photograph
of a child under 16 between March 26, 1999 and March 4, 2003.
On the third day of the trial, before the defence began, the judge
instructed the jury to clear Mr Morgan of all charges.
During the trial, the court heard 59 deleted images of boys were found on Mr
Morgan's home computer.
But a computer forensic expert, who appeared for the prosecution, said it
was "unlikely" the former mayor had downloaded the images himself.
Throughout the proceedings, Mr Morgan claimed he had been framed.
Mr Morgan stepped down from his £50,000-a-year post in Easter last year,
forcing a by-election which was won by fellow Conservative Linda Arkley.
In a statement, the former mayor's solicitor Mark Harrison said the
prosecution had admitted the allegations were "unsustainable and wrong".
He said: "Mr Morgan always denied, absolutely, any knowledge of the
existence of child pornography on his computer system.
"He was horrified to learn of its presence and as keen as the police to
resolve how the material came to be there."
Mr Harrison said it had been demonstrated that his client was not
responsible for making the indecent images, and "that he could not have
accessed the material found on his computer in any event".
The ex-mayor now "feels naturally vindicated" by the ruling, Mr Harrison
said, but his relief was "tempered by feelings of anger and frustration at
the charges being levelled against him in the first place".
The statement continued: "Mr Morgan considers it staggering that these
proceedings were brought and pursued to trial given that no evidence was
produced at trial linking the images to him at all."
Mr Harrison said the trial was a huge waste of taxpayers' money.
The statement concluded: "In particular, Mr Morgan wishes to stress his
thanks and appreciation to his wife Nikki, without whom he could not have
coped with the pressure and stress of these proceedings.
"Mr Morgan looks forward now to spending some time with his family without
the burden of the allegations hanging over him and to start re-building his