April 2004

TORY ADMITS CHILD PORN CHARGE

A TOP Tory councillor has been urged to quit after appearing in court on child pornography related charges.

Mike Oram, 61, of Hobgoblin, Iwerne Minster, admitted two offences when he appeared at Bournemouth Magistrates Court on April 7.

Although he quit his cabinet post on North Dorset District Council the previous evening, he has not stepped down as a councillor.

Oram, who has represented Blandford East since 1999, admitted one charge of making an indecent photograph of a child and another of inciting the distribution of pseudo-photographs of children under the age of 16.

The court heard he paid to view the American ‘Landslide’ child porn website by using his son’s credit card.

The website was later investigated by the FBI in the United States and by British police under Operation Ore, after the names of 7,000 people who had accessed it – including Who guitarist Pete Townshend, were passed to the British authorities.

Liberal Democrat group leader on the council, Cllr David Milsted said Oram’s position was untenable.

“I trust that he will do the appropriate thing by resigning his membership of the council,” he said.

Paul Griffin, prosecuting at Bournemouth Magistrates Court said Oram claimed he had accidentally stumbled across the website and saved an image onto a floppy disk between October and November 1998.

“He said he was concerned for the children involved which is why he viewed them,” said Mr Griffin.

“He admits copying an image onto a disk but said he realised it was a stupid thing to do and deleted it straight away.”

The image concerned in the case was level two in seriousness – level four is the worst. When police checked his computer, no images were found saved onto the hard drive but the web history showed the website address.

David Lester, defending, said: “He says he was revolted by the images he saw but now accepts he was very nave to go onto this site,” said Mr Lester.

District Judge Louise Balmain gave Oram credit for his guilty pleas and the absence of downloaded material on his computer.

Oram was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £87 costs.

By receiving a conditional discharge he will not be placed on the sex offenders register.

Oram fell foul of Standards Board rules governing the conduct of councillors in December. A complaint was made that a drink drive conviction in June 2002 and comments he made to the Daily Echo had brought the council into disrepute. The complaint was upheld by the Standards Committee after a hearing and he was censured.