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Charity Chief In Court On Kenya Child Sex Charges


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The director of a gap-year charity appears in a UK court charged with sexual offences against children in Kenya, after police acted on information handed to them by Channel 4 News.

Simon Harris, 54, of Leominster, Herefordshire, was arrested on Sunday at his home by officers acting on the Channel 4 News information.

He appeared at Birmingham magistrates' court on Monday charged with three offences against two children between 2003 and 2013.

The charges are:

• attempted rape between May 2004 and December 2004 and non-penetrative sex in May 2013 on a boy aged between 13 and 15

• attempted rape on boy under age of 16 between 2003 and 2004

Mr Harris was denied bail, and will next appear at Birmingham crown court on 21 October.

The allegations against Mr Harris centre on time he spent in Gilgil, Kenya. There he is the director of a charity called VAE which places gap year students and post-graduates from the UK in schools in poor, rural areas.

He also runs an organisation called the Gilgil Trust which aims to help young street children in Kenya.

Mr Harris divides his time between his home in Gilgil, known as the "Green House", and his Herefordshire home.

Channel 4 News began investigations earlier this year after being alerted to allegations against Mr Harris in Kenya. Channel 4 News teams conducted two separate trips to Kenya, and attempted to interview him at his home in Gilgil and at his home in Herefordshire.

Information obtained from these trips was passed to Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP).

CEOP and West Mercia police then mounted an overseas operation, which involved a team of British police officers travelling to Kenya to gather evidence and working in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities and police.

CEOP Deputy Chief Executive Andy Baker told Channel 4 News: "We're grateful that Channel 4 brought this to our attention."

The operation took place under section 72 of the Sexual Offenders Act 2003:

Section 72, Sexual Offenders Act 2003, extract


1) a person does an act in a country outside the United Kingdom at a time when the person was not a United Kingdom national or a United Kingdom resident,

2) the act constituted an offence under the law in force in that country,

3) the act, if done in England and Wales, would have constituted a sexual offence to which this section applies,

4) and the person meets the residence or nationality condition at the relevant time, 

proceedings may be brought against the person in England and Wales for that sexual offence as if the person had done the act there.

On Sunday, officers then made the arrest of Mr Harris. Police have employed rarely used legislation, which allows a UK national to be prosecuted on UK soil for offences committed abroad, to charge Mr Harris.

In the 10 years since the Sexual Offences Act came into being, there have been two successful prosecutions against other individuals. This investigation is the first time the relevant section has been applied to a case in Africa.

In a statement West Mercia police said: "The operation came about as a direct result of information given to CEOP by a team from Channel 4 News. The team alerted authorities in the UK to a number of allegations which came to light during a visit to Kenya earlier this year."

Speaking to Channel 4 News in general terms, Andy Baker said: "We're using powers that give us extra-territorial powers beyond the UK.

"So if a UK citizen goes abroad and offends in this way against children - sexual offences - then we have the power to deal with them in this country.

"However, we do feel that it's better if that justice is dealt with in that country ... but we will not shirk from bringing people back to the UK and dealing with them in this way."


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