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Student suspended from Queen's University Belfast over child porn convictions loses High Court challenge to sanction

By Alan Erwin

Published 30/04/2015

Michael Yeo (22) threatened to kill her in the incident, during which he crashed into another vehicle, prosecutors claimed
Michael Yeo (22) threatened to kill her in the incident, during which he crashed into another vehicle, prosecutors claimed

A student suspended from Queen's University in Belfast over child porn convictions has lost his High Court challenge to the sanction.

A judge ruled today 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 on 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 and addicted to the pornographic 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 readmission 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 his 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 to it", the judge said.

He 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 it would 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 "baseless and without merit", he held.

He added: "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 SOP expires.

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