Kids photogrpaher was ‘doing project with child porn’

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By Paul Thornton

A CHILDREN’S hospital photographer told bosses he had been accessing child porn websites as part of a project to educate staff, a court has heard.Leonard Cumming

Leonard Cumming, 59, was suspended from his job at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children after IT workers investigated inappropriate websites being accessed from his computer.

He was later charged over child porn allegations but according to a service manager at NHS Lothian Mr Cumming admitted accessing the websites when she confronted him about them.

Giving evidence at his trial, Carol Downie said Mr Cumming initially claimed he was logging on to the sites because he wanted to know if his granddaughter could be a model.

But, she said, days later he told her that he had accessed the sites as part of a project on how photographs of children could be “misconstrued”.

Miss Downie, 45, told Edinburgh Sheriff Court how she had gone with human resource and IT security staff to suspend Mr Cumming at his office at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children on July 11, 2007.

Pre-teen

The court had earlier heard from IT managers who said they found searches on the internet for “pre-teen model” websites.

Miss Downie said: “I said that I had been told there was a problem with the nature of some sites and he said he had been accessing them.

“He said it was because he thought that his granddaughter had potential to be a model and that was why he was accessing them.

“I asked him about some other sites, adult sites, and he said that they were pop-ups for the sites that he was on and they just happened.”

Suspended

Miss Downie said at that point she suspended Mr Cumming from his job and told him that if he needed to contact NHS Lothian he should do it through her.

And five days after he was sent home, Miss Downie said, Mr Cumming called her to give another reason why he had been accessing the websites.

Miss Downie said: “He phoned me on the Monday to say that he had forgotten to mention to us that he was doing a project about internet sites with photographs of children and how they could be potentially misconstrued and that was why he was accessing them – so he could demonstrate to other members of staff what they could be like.”

Memo

Under cross examination Miss Downie accepted that there had been a memo passed around NHS staff forbidding non-authorised staff to take pictures of patients in case they were misconstrued or lost.

But she insisted that Mr Cumming had never discussed any project to educate staff with his line manager, Stuart Gairns.

Miss Downie added: “On a project such as that I would expect him to discuss that with his line manager.”

Mr Gairns later confirmed that Mr Cumming had not discussed the project with him, adding that he was “shocked” when he was told a co-worker he had known for around 30 years was being suspended in relation to child pornography allegations.

The trial, before Sheriff Frank Crowe, is due to continue in July and Mr Cumming was ordained to appear then.

Mr Cumming, of Colinton Mains Drive, Edinburgh, denies all the charges.

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