Chris Leydon, who produced video content for technology news blog Tech City News and was a freelance video editor for the Guardian newspaper, has been found guilty of four counts of making indecent images of children. The jury could not reach a verdict on three other counts, including child rape.
Leydon, 25, of Hardwick Place, London, who has been employed by tech blogs, tech events companies, the Guardian and even venture capital firms to produce video content, was first arrested on 15 March 2013.
He was initially charged with three counts of sexual assault, including one count of anal rape, and four counts of possessing indecent images of children. He was released on conditional bail in March of this year.
He was later charged, on 11 March, with anally raping a boy under the age of 13, and of sexually assaulting and inciting to sexual activity another boy, who was 10 or 11 at the time of the assault, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
He was released on bail in March of this year on the condition that he did not contact either of his alleged victims, nor come into contact with any person under the age of 18 years unless as a result of unavoidable everyday activity. A jury at Worcester Crown Court today decided he was guilty of illegally making indecent images of underage boys.
Leydon was alleged by Police to have downloaded at least twelve indecent videos of children, one of which was rated as “5” on the COPINE scale, defined as “deliberately posed pictures of fully, partially clothed or naked children in sexualised or provocative poses.” The videos were discovered on his laptop. The Police also recovered videos of Leydon conducting “lone sexual activity.”
Leydon is understood to have worked as an independent contractor for American technology blog TechCrunch, the British technology events company 3 Beards, a European technology awards ceremony, London-based startup GoSquared, venture capital firm Index Ventures and charitable initiative Young Rewired State.
Despite his arrest, Leydon was shielded by some elements of the London tech scene because he was regarded as “part of the furniture,” in the words of one observer. He was employed by Tech City News to edit the blog’s “Week In Tech” video, despite that blog’s knowledge of his arrest. Then-editor Alex Wood did not return a request for comment.
Previously, Leydon acted as community manager for GoSquared as well as filming events for theGuardian and, chillingly, he organised a “teen tech” conference called Tomorrow’s Web, giving him significant access to impressionable young men.
Government quango Tech City UK shared links to his blog posts and he has worked on advertising material for a site promoted by TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp, raising questions about how seriously some startups – not to mention Government departments – take their reputations, given that the allegations about him have been widely disseminated for over a year.
Leydon, until now a regular on the London tech scene, filmed “Digital Sizzle” events for London tech events company 3 Beards, despite his arrest being common knowledge, filmed a Hacker News London meetup, filmed the DVD of comedian Ed Byrne’s tour and recorded the opening of the Techstars London office.
As recently as February 2014, he was hired to film the Government-backed Year of Code launch – a campaign which has since run aground, being called a public relations disaster by the BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones.
Leydon was suspended from LGBT organisation Student Pride after his arrest. He posted the following message on the organisation’s Facebook page at the time.
When asked why Leydon, who is no longer a student and has no track record of gay rights advocacy, continues to be involved in Student Pride events, Student Pride did not return a request for comment.
In January 2013, Leydon took to tech blog The Next Web to complain that his Facebook account had been suspended. I reported at the time that a source inside Facebook confirmed he had been harassing other users and distributing unsolicited, sexually explicit photographs.
In 2011, Leydon recorded a video in which he is seen vigorously anally pleasuring himself with a large pink dildo. He published it on amateur pornography site gayboystube.com under the title “Twink Geek F**** Himself”.
Asked why they gave Leydon money and a position of influence in an industry which is actively encouraging participation from teens through coding initiatives, potentially putting him in front of vulnerable young people, despite widespread knowledge of his alleged sexual assaults, Leydon’s former employers have generally been reluctant to respond. Tech City News did not respond to multiple requests for comment in June.
Subsequent to Leydon’s arrest, 3 Beards wrote: “3 Beards no longer use the services of Mr Leydon for a variety of professional reasons. Mr Leydon was a freelance contractor who we used for event filming and editing on a case-by-case basis. We do not feel it would be appropriate to discuss the case at this time.”
Disclosure: in 2012, Leydon recorded a short video for a company I owned at the time, The Kernel, for which he did not request nor receive payment. His content, which was commissioned without my prior knowledge, was briefly published on YouTube but has since been removed.