Hereford & Worcester

Telling Kenyan boys of man's sex offences 'not wrong'

A Channel 4 documentary maker has denied "feeding information" to Kenyan street children who went on to accuse a charity boss of abusing them.

Simon Harris, originally of Leominster in Herefordshire, denies 22 charges of sexual abuse against boys in Kenya.

A court heard Wael Dabbous, who made a film about Mr Harris, was "wrong" to tell boys he interviewed of Mr Harris' previous sexual offences convictions.

He said his team were careful to avoid contributors "contaminating" others.

Mr Harris moved to Africa in the 1990s and ran the charity VAE, which placed gap-year students into local teaching posts. He lived near the town of Gilgil in a residence known as the Green House, where it is alleged the offending took place.

'Encouraged to say things'

Mr Harris denies rapes and indecent assaults on 11 street children between 2001 and 2013, as well as five charges of possessing indecent images of children.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court was shown the May 2013 documentary, which had interviews with some of the children, at the start of the trial. The film had already been shown on UK TV.

Defending, Jeremy Dean QC asked Mr Dabbous about when the children were told of Mr Harris' 2009 conviction for possessing indecent images.

Mr Dabbous told the court he was "satisfied" his team had acted within ethical broadcasting guidelines regarding children.

But Mr Dean suggested telling them of Mr Harris' conviction might encourage or incite them to say or do things they otherwise would not.

It was "entirely wrong and inappropriate to say that", he said.

'Fed information'

Mr Dabbous said he disagreed.

"I don't believe I can say it's correct or absolutely wrong - there are sometimes issues that fall between the two areas," he said.

Mr Dean said later at least one of the boys interviewed "was being fed information - detailed information, I would suggest" about Mr Harris, and his prior sex offences.

But Mr Dabbous said: "The fact there was a possible sex offender at large in their community was relevant to the interview."

He said none of the boys had been paid or given anything for taking part.

Before trial, Mr Harris admitted six offences of indecently assaulting three young boys while he was a teacher at school in Devon in the 1980s.

The trial continues.

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