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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 17:52 GMT
Ex-councillor admits porn charges
Ex-Lib Dem leader William Chadwick
Chadwick resigned as leader of Preston Lib Dems in 2002
An ex-political leader in Lancashire has admitted accessing child pornography from the internet.

On Tuesday William Chadwick pleaded guilty, at Liverpool Crown Court, to 18 offences of making indecent photographs of children.

Chadwick, who was leader of the Lib-Dem group in Preston, was fined 1,000 and ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for life.

The 48-year-old, who also resigned from Lancashire County Council, was originally due to face trial, but changed his plea to guilty at the last minute.

As he sentenced Chadwick, of Avenham Road, Preston, the judge Mr Justice Mackay said: "It is very sad to see you standing where you are.

'Solo enterprise'

"You are a man who has contributed much to public life and I suspect your life as a public man now lies in ruins as a result of what you have done.

"On 18 occasions you accessed the internet so as to download images of young children, principally, but not exclusively young girls, for your personal gratification."

The judge said Chadwick's crimes fell into the "lowest level" of seriousness, in connection with crimes of this nature, and accepted they were a "solo enterprise".

David Kerr, prosecuting, said police removed Chadwick's computer from his home, which he shares with his partner, on 9 August 2002.

Accessed 'accidentally'

Experts later found the hard drive had been used to access pornographic internet sites and 18 images had been downloaded, on 12 May and 9 and 12 June.

Mr Kerr said Chadwick would have put in a search request such as "underground illegal pornography" to access the sites.

Chadwick later told police during interview the sites may have been accessed accidentally, Mr Kerr said.

John Jackson, defending, said Chadwick had served the public extremely well in the past.

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