A CHILDREN’S hospital photographer has been cleared of child porn possession charges.
Leonard Cumming, 59, was suspended from his job at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children two years ago after IT workers investigated websites being accessed from his computer.
Cumming told his employers he had been accessing indecent websites as part of a project to educate staff.
Yesterday (Tues) – on the eighth day of trial evidence – Sheriff Frank Crowe returned a not proven verdict, having been convinced that all images on Mr Cumming’s computer were legitimate.
Speaking outside court, Cumming would only say: “I’m glad it’s over – I just didn’t do it.”
And his defence agent John McGeechan said: “I think it’s telling that the Sheriff didn’t ask me to make a closing speech – it has been eight days of rubbish.
“That machine stored legitimate photos of children that were used at the hospital.”
Mr McGeechan also said Cumming was now retired and had left the NHS after being suspended in July 2007 when the allegations came to light.
Court previously heard a service manager at NHS Lothian explain why she had confronted Mr Cumming over his internet usage.
Carol Downie said Mr Cumming claimed he had accessed indecent websites as part of a project on how photographs of children could be “misconstrued”.
The court had earlier heard from IT managers who said they found searches on the internet for “pre-teen model” websites.
Miss Downie, 45, told how she had consulted with the IT security staff before suspending Mr Cumming on July 11, 2007.
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.”
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.
She claimed that five days after being sent home 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.
“On a project such as that I would expect him to discuss that with his line manager.”
Also giving evidence, Mr Cumming’s line manager Stuart Gairns later confirmed that he 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.
Mr Cumming, of Colinton Mains Drive in Edinburgh always denied the charges against him.
His lawyer, Mr McGeechan, said Mr Cumming now planned to spend his time working on his yacht.