David Cameron’s former Deputy Director of Policy at Downing Street was yesterday found guilty of five counts of downloading indecent photographs of children.
At his trial 65-year-old Patrick Rock (pictured) — who once helped devise policy intended to protect children from internet pornography — admitted that in August 2013 he downloaded 20 pictures of nine girls, included ones aged 10 to 16, from a free-to-view website.
He denied the pictures of girls posing in bikinis, suspenders, hot pants, a ballet tutu and bras were indecent and broke the law, but the jury at Southwark Crown Court in London disagreed after deliberations lasting more than eight hours.
The case focused on the nature of the pictures, which were found on Mr. Rock’s iPad after it was seized by investigators while he was visiting the U.S. to sort out his recently deceased mother’s affairs.
The prosecution conceded that the girls pictured were not naked, but said they were nevertheless in “sexualised” poses. His defence argued his pictures were no more explicit than Britney Spears’ video for her 1998 song ‘Baby One More Time’. Filmed when she was 16 years old, that video famously portrayed her in a schoolgirl’s uniform.
Mr. Rock was cleared on three counts of downloading indecent pictures of under-age girls, and the jury failed to reach a verdict on 12 further counts. However, he was convicted of five counts.
Sparing him from prison, Judge Alistair McCreath today gave Mr. Rock a two-year conditional discharge. During that time he must register as a sex offender and is banned from using internet-compatible devices unless they can retain his browsing history, which he must surrender for inspection by police.
Telling him his punishment was “the loss of your reputation and your very public humiliation,” Judge McCreath added:
“I have not lost sight of the obvious reality that right-thinking people will quite properly consider that those who did what you did should be punished for it.
“You should be. And you have been… It is a punishment which you brought on yourself but is nonetheless a very real one. And it is one that is utterly merited.”