Three former Met Police officers accused of child sex abuse image ‘conspiracy’

Chief Inspector Richard Watkinson was found dead on the day he was due to be charged, while two retired officers face court

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Thursday 19 January 2023 17:58 GMT
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Three former Metropolitan Police officers have been accused of child sex abuse image offences.

One of the officers, Ch Insp Richard Watkinson, was found dead at his home last week in circumstances that are not being treated as suspicious.

He had been due to answer bail on the same day to be charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent photos of a child, voyeurism and two counts of misconduct in public office.

Two retired Metropolitan Police officers have been charged as part of the same investigation. Britain’s largest force is currently in special measures following a series of scandals, most recently seeing armed officer David Carrick admit committing 49 offences, including 24 rapes, against 12 women.

Commander Jon Savell, from the force’s professionalism department, said: “Chief Inspector Watkinson was facing extremely serious and concerning charges, as the result of a painstaking and thorough police investigation.

“Before this matter came to light, we had no previous information about these allegations or to indicate the officer posed any risk to the public. He had not faced any other criminal or conduct matters during his Met career. He had been suspended from duty since his arrest.

“Two other men were also arrested during the course of the investigation and have been charged, their matters will now progress through the courts.”

Jack Addis, 63, from Perthshire in Scotland and Jeremy Laxton, 62, of Lincolnshire will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 9 February. Scotland Yard said both men are retired officers who left the force more than a decade ago.

Mr Addis is charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children.

Mr Laxton is charged with the same offence, as well as three counts of making indecent photos of a child, possession of prohibited images of a child, possession of extreme pornographic images and intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence of misconduct in public office.

The alleged offences took place between January 2018 and 20 September 2021.

Watkinson, who led neighbourhood policing in the force’s West Area Command Unit, was found dead at his home in Buckingham on 12 January.

One of the men was a serving officer at the time of the alleged offences, but was found dead on the day he was due to be charged (PA)

Thames Valley Police is treating the 49-year-old’s death as unexplained but not suspicious, and are preparing a file for the coroner.

The senior officer had initially been arrested in July 2021 by investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct, before the case was sent to the Met’s Specialist Crime Command for investigation.

Mr Laxton was arrested in September 2021 and Mr Addis in November 2021, as part of an investigation in liaison with Police Scotland and Lincolnshire Police.

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