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Councillor ‘embarrassed’ by laptop porn inquiry

Councillor Billy Hill.

Councillor Billy Hill.

A city councillor has furiously denied using council laptops to access porn.

Coun Billy Hill was disciplined by Lancaster City Council after it was discovered that adult sex websites had been viewed on two computers. He said he was not responsible but admitted being “lax and foolish” in allowing others to use the laptops.

Coun Hill has now quit the Conservative group over the issue, calling them “disloyal”, but will remain a councillor.

Lancaster City Council standards committee found he had breached the council code of conduct and had brought the council into disrepute.

A report said the use of the sex sites was discovered after Coun Hill returned two damaged council laptops and was given a third computer in February 2013. Seven months later, he brought a laptop to the council IT department because it had a virus. This computer was found to belong to another councillor, who had loaned it to Coun Hill, but the hard drive from the computer he’d been given in February 2013 was installed on it. The virus was a message referring to adult pornographic websites which had been accessed. Three items of non-pornographic software had also been downloaded onto the hard drive, which is also against council IT policy. Coun Hill was then asked to bring in the laptop he’d been given in February 2013. Its hard drive also showed evidence that adult porn websites had been accessed, and had a cracked screen and cigarette burns on some of the keys.

Coun Hill told the inquiry he’d transferred hard drives in an attempt to unblock the virus. He admitted he’d had responsibilty for both the computers during the period when the adult material was accessed. A council report said there was “no material viewed which may be a criminal offence”.

Coun Hill said: “I have never ever in my life accessed pornography on any computer.

“I believe there has been a witch hunt against me. I am aware of the possibility that somebody I know has done this. I have frequently housed homeless people in my house and left my passwords to hand. I have not brought the council into disrepute because nobody knew about these allegations until the council decided to publish them.”

In a letter responding to the complaint, Coun Hill said: “I accept that I have been lax and foolish with the password and the general care of the machines. I have been trying to work out who could have done it but I am unable to do so with any certainty. I have always allowed unrestricted access to my laptop...I have let people use it unsupervised. Ultimately it is my fault...I am truly sorry and very embarrassed by this whole matter.”

Coun Hill represents Scotforth East ward. He was himself a member of the standards committee, a board of councillors who deal with complaints over conduct, as well as the council’s licensing regulatory committee, but is expected to be removed from both. He was also told he would no longer be allowed to use a council laptop.

 
 
 

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