Former Oxford University lecturer who wrote about ‘ethics of child pornography’ jailed for indecent images

Dr Peter King had almost 3,000 indecent images of children when he was arrested

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 19 March 2020 15:10 GMT
Dr King most recently taught at Pembroke College, Oxford
Dr King most recently taught at Pembroke College, Oxford (Tejvan Pettinger/CC BY 2.0)

A former Oxford University lecturer who wrote about “ethical issues concerning child pornography” has been jailed for possessing almost 3,000 indecent images.

Dr, 63, had been cautioned by police for accessing illegal material while writing a paper on the subject more than a decade ago.

The article, entitled No Plaything: Ethical issues concerning child-pornography, was published in 2007.

In the abstract, King wrote that he would look at the harm to children involved but also “at the possibility of a morally acceptable form of child pornography”.

Prosecutors said that, despite being warned, King continued to download thousands of images in a “repeated pattern of behaviour”.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children and one of possession of a prohibited image of a child at Oxford Crown Court.

On Thursday, King was sentenced to seven months in custody and given a sexual harm prevention order.

He was found to have accessed a number of websites known for sharing indecent images of children.

Analysis of his computer and hard drives showed regular access to indecent sites and his search history included “schoolgirl”.

When King was arrested, police found that he possessed 2,992 indecent images of children and 321 prohibited images.

He was a stipendiary lecturer in philosophy at Pembroke College at the time of his arrest.

A spokesperson for the college said it was only made aware of the police investigation and charges a day before his first court appearance.

“He was immediately suspended from his employment, pending disciplinary proceedings,” a statement added.

“The college moved swiftly to put in place welfare and counselling arrangements for students and staff, and alternative teaching arrangements and academic support for all affected students.”

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King previously taught at Christ Church and Somerville colleges but Oxford University said he was not centrally employed and had no faculty duties.

Paula Appiah, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “King held an esteemed position at a prestigious university, but his actions fell far short of the law.

“The law is in place to protect young children and we are dedicated to bringing perpetrators of this crime to justice.”

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