NSPCC in call over online child abuse after former Lord Mayor of Leeds jailed

Neil Taggart.
Neil Taggart.

A leading children’s charity is calling for more to be done to prevent the publication of child abuse images online after a former Lord Mayor of Leeds was jailed for “despicable” child pornography offences.

The NSPCC said Neil Taggart, the former lord mayor of Leeds, was “just one of the growing number of offenders caught using the internet to access child abuse images”.

Taggart was jailed for 32 months at Leeds Crown Court for making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children.

The 65-year-old, from Garforth, was lord mayor of Leeds in 2003 and served as a councillor in the city for 33 years.

He also served as chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority in the early 2000s.

He admitted three charges of making indecent images of children, three charges of distributing indecent photographs of children, one charge of possessing prohibited images of children and one charge of possession of extreme pornographic images.

The offences were committed between 2010 and 2016.

Following his sentence, an NSPCC spokesperson for the North of England said: “Taggart has held positions of considerable trust and authority in the community, but he has been exposed as just one of the growing number of offenders caught using the internet to access child abuse images.

“Every child in his sickening catalogue of images has suffered abuse in the real world.

“To help deal with the escalating demand for this sickening material, the NSPCC is calling for technology companies, government and law enforcement to commit resources and expertise to prevent it being published in the first place.”

Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Offenders like Taggart, who seek out and distribute abusive images of children for the sexual gratification of themselves and others, play a significant role in the continuation of the appalling real-life abuse that these images capture.

“The crimes he pleaded guilty to represent a high volume of images - many of the most serious kind - and cover a significant period of time.

“As someone who held a number of high-profile public positions during some of that time, he would have been well aware of how wrong his offending behaviour was and how it was completely against the standards of integrity and decency that the public would have rightly expected of him.

“We hope that seeing him brought to justice will reassure the public that we treat all offences of this nature seriously and will continue to do everything we can to safeguard children.”

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said she condemned Taggart’s “despicable crimes in the strongest possible terms”.

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