Paedophile ex-council chief was also trustee of child abuse charity

Heathcliffe Bowen
Heathcliffe Bowen

A paedophile who helped to run the children’s safety unit in one of Yorkshire’s biggest cities was also a trustee of a controversial charity that helps young victims of abuse, it has emerged.

Heathcliffe Bowen, who served three terms as chairman of Ilkley Parish Council, was jailed for five years on Monday for paying an under-age boy for sex and taking part in explicit online chats with other youngsters.

The judge at Bradford Crown Court branded him a “predatory paedophile” who “couldn’t help himself”.

Some of the offences were committed while Bowen, 50, was employed by Bradford Council as administrator of the city’s Safeguarding Children’s Board.

At the same time, he was a trustee of the Leeds-based charity Yorkshire MESMAC and a director of its trading arm.

The charity was criticised last year over concerns that its rules appeared to allow workers to sleep with their clients.

Its chief executive, Tom Doyle, said Bowen had resigned from the Board of Trustees before any allegations came to light and was required to resign as a director when it was learned he was under investigation. He added that the charity’s rules had been rewritten with the help of the Safeguarding Children Board in Leeds.

Bowen’s former managers at Bradford Council declined to say why they had sacked him in 2014. A spokesman said: “We cannot discuss details of staff disciplinary matters.”

Asked if an inquiry would now be held, the spokesman said: “Naturally, following Mr Bowen’s conviction yesterday we will review council processes in connection with his employment. If lessons need to be learnt from the case, they will be.”