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Student 'addicted to child porn' loses QUB ban challenge

By Alan Erwin

Published 01/05/2015

A judge ruled that the 21-year-old engineering undergraduate must first take his case before an independent Board of Visitors
A judge ruled that the 21-year-old engineering undergraduate must first take his case before an independent Board of Visitors

A student suspended from Queen's University over child pornography convictions has lost his High Court challenge against the punishment.

A judge ruled that the 21-year-old engineering undergraduate must first take his case before an independent Board of Visitors.

The student, referred to as CS, took legal action after being excluded from his course for the duration of a five-year sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) imposed against him.

Granted anonymity in the judicial review proceedings amid fears he may try to commit suicide if publicly identified, he had pleaded guilty to making and possessing indecent photographs of children.

At his trial, CS was described as being obsessed with and addicted to the images.

Following his conviction last year, the university imposed an emergency suspension on him for breaching a requirement to notify it of the criminal case.

He was told he could re-apply to complete his studies at the end of his SOPO in September 2019, but re-admission was not guaranteed.

A university appeals panel upheld the decision, advising him that he was entitled to petition the Board of Visitors, which includes a retired Lord Justice of Appeal and county court judge.

Lawyers for the student argued that the outcome breached his entitlement to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.

But Mr Justice Horner questioned the student's apparent opposition to private hearings, noting that he had always sought anonymity. Claims that he wanted his case heard in public, with the risk of being identified, had "a hollow ring", the judge said.

He further pointed out that CS could have made the request to the Board of Visitors.

Submissions that any hearing before the board would be too slow or rendered ineffective by the student having no legal representation were also rejected.

According to Mr Justice Horner, the board would be able to come to a final conclusion well before the deadline for enrolling in the new academic year.

Suggestions that the panel would act unlawfully and in breach of CS's human rights were "without merit", he added.

The judge said: "In this case, the applicant enjoys the rights of access to an independent and impartial tribunal whose worth has been proved over hundreds of years and who the court can have confidence will act as a public authority in a convention-compliant manner."

Refusing the judicial review application, the judge dismissed all complaints against the board as being an inappropriate body for determining whether CS should be prohibited from completing his studies until the SOPO expires.

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