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Probe to assess if harm was done by pervert’s website

An official probe should establish whether Northern Ireland children were harmed by a teaching website run by a paedophile, the Education Minister has said.

Caitriona Ruane launched the review after Samuel Kinge (28), from Worcestershire, was jailed for a second time last month for downloading abusive images of children.

He had been running the Sparklebox teaching and parenting resource website used in thousands of schools across the UK.

Access to the site was blocked earlier this month — more than three months after Kinge's rearrest — after a parent from a Belfast primary school reported his conviction to the school, the Education Minister added.

Ms Ruane said Barry Mulholland, chief executive of the Western Education and Library Board, will conduct the investigation into the group which manages the IT system in Northern Ireland and report back by March 24.

“The terms of reference of his investigation are... to determine if the Sparklebox website contained any content or interactive elements that would have been harmful,” she said in response to an Assembly question. “If so, to explain what action was taken regarding these elements.”

The parent had a child at Stranmillis Primary in south Belfast.

Kinge, from Evesham, a former teacher, was jailed at Warwick Crown Court in January 2005 for possession of child pornography.

He started Sparklebox in February 2006 having changed his name from Daniel Kinge and was arrested again last September on charges of making and possessing indecent images of children.

Worcester Crown Court sentenced him to a year in prison last month with a 15-year sexual offences banning order preventing him from using a computer unless it has a police detection programme installed.

The group which manages the IT system in Northern Ireland, C2k, became aware of issues surrounding Sparklebox last December and spoke to the regional broadband consortia in England, several of which had already blocked access to the site until they were satisfied that suitable arrangements were in place.

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