March 2009

Jailed pervert is no longer a city Labour member

A WOULD-BE Exeter city councillor who was jailed for four years after offering to pay £500 for sex with young girls is no longer a member of the Labour Party.

Richard Harris, 28, of Union Street, Exeter, who was jailed for four years last week after admitting seven charges of inciting sexual activity, had unsuccessfully contested seats across the city at elections in 2006, 2007 and last year for Labour.

In 2006 he received 376 votes, coming in second in the polls at Heavitree. In 2007 he contested St Thomas and last year he was again unsuccessful, this time in the St Leonard’s ward.

But “shocked” party officials said today Harris was no longer a member of the Labour Party — and would have to re-apply to the National executive of the party and not the local branch if he wanted to rejoin after leaving prison.

Eddie Lopez, agent for Exeter Labour Party based at Clifton Hill, said: “He is no longer a member of the labour Party.

“His membership lapsed. We are all as shocked and horrified by what happened as every one else.

“He is ineligible to be a member while in prison and he would have to apply to the National Executive if he wanted to rejoin.”

Exeter Crown Court was told last week that school governor Harris met the girls through social networking sites and then offered to give them the money in return for sex with him. But he did not actually ever meet any of his victims, who were under 13.

He went on to social networking sites like Bebo to contact girls aged 12 and 13.

The court was told that he would pretend at times to be 15 when he was a 28-year-old administrator working for the Norwich Union.

When he was arrested last October, police seized a computer which had 31 pages of contacts on it. He told police he “felt mostly turned on by girls under 16”.

Judge Graham Cottle jailed Harris for four years and he was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Registerand banned from working with children.