Former Lord Mayor of Leeds distributed indecent images of children

A former Lord Mayor of Leeds has pleaded guilty to offences relating to making and distributing sexually explicit images of children.

Monday, 5th June 2017, 3:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th June 2017, 3:30 pm

Neil Taggart, who has also chaired West Yorkshire Police Authority, is facing a possible prison sentence after today admitting the charges at the city's Crown Court

Taggart, 65, who served as a Leeds city councillor for 33 years, is currently being held in custody after breaching his bail conditions.

Much of Taggart's offending took place when he was still a serving Labour councillor.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Taggart, of Marlowe Court, Garforth, pleaded guilty to three offences of making indecent images of children, three of distributing indecent photographs of children, one of possessing prohibited images of children and one of possession of an extreme pornographic images.

The offending took place between 2007 and 2016.

Taggart spoke only to confirm his name and to enter guilty pleas to each of the eight charges.

Anthony Dunne, prosecuting, said Taggart had been arrested at the weekend for breaching his bail conditions.

Jon Gregg, for Taggart, told the court: "The defendant is a man in his sixties and of previous good character.

"He is aware of the gravity of the offences and a pre-sentence report would be of assistance to the sentencing judge."

Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, adjourned the case to allow for the preparation of the report. He will be sentenced on July 4.

Taggart was returned to custody.

Taggart, first elected in 1980, was a senior figure on the local authority for many years.

The party announced in October 2013 that Taggart would not be the Labour candidate for the Bramley and Stanningley ward in the May 2014 elections, after a selection meeting chose Kevin Ritchie.

Labour did not comment why it chose to deselect the long-serving councillor but, it was reported at the time, it came after "a difficult time in his personal life."

It was reported that he had been absent from many council meetings since the previous summer and had been fighting cancer.

Taggart could not be contacted for comment at the time of his deselection but made several posts on Twitter.

In one, he said: “I was ill for 12 months, much pain, missed several community meetings as a result. Tumour removal in July. Absences unappreciated by some.”

Taggart was Lord Mayor of Leeds in 2003 and served as chair of West Yorkshire Police Authority in the early 2000s.

Taggart was also chair of the City Plans Panel, being regarded as an expert in local planning matters. He has also been involved with West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Mark Peel, independent chair of Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said: “Any form of child abuse is abhorrent and those who carry it out need to be brought to justice, regardless of any previous or current official role they may have.”

Coun Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I condemn these despicable crimes in the strongest possible terms.”