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Former
Tory official faces questioning in child porn inquiry: Obscene
Publications Squad seizes 500 gay sex videos in raid on Brighton home of
ex-Conservative. Steve Boggan reports

27

A FORMER Conservative constituency official is at the centre of a
child pornography investigation spanning Europe and South-east Asia.Mike
Land, a former deputy chairman of Kemptown Conservative Association in
Brighton, East Sussex, is to be questioned by Scotland Yard’s Obscene
Publications Squad following the seizure from his home of 500 gay porn
videos including at least three which feature explicit sex acts with
boys thought to be under 15.

It is understood a file is to be passed to the Crown Prosecution
Service following a five-month investigation which examined links in
Thailand and North Africa.

John Hogsden, a Brighton businessman with whom Mr Land has close
connections, is also wanted for questioning. Police have seized more
than 50 video cassettes from his home, Bramble Cottage in Ovingdean,
near Brighton, about three-quarters of which are understood to contain
child-sex scenes made with a camcorder, probably in Thailand.

Nine video cassette recorders and a computer system with 150 floppy
disks were also taken from Mr Land’s home. Police computer experts are
examining the floppy disks to see if they contain a list of subscribers.

Mr Hogsden used to rent a room for pounds 35 a week from Mr Land at
his four-storey home in Egremont Place, Brighton, from which a
considerable mail-order pornography operation is believed to have been
based. Scotland Yard officers raided both premises last September but
neither man has been charged. Detectives, who refuse to discuss the
case, are still viewing the confiscated material.

Mr Hogsden, 52, the owner of a cafe and another business concern on
Brighton’s Palace Pier, has been living in an hotel he bought in Agadir,
Morocco, since his home was raided. He is not expected to return to
Britain.

In an interview with the Independent, Mr Land said the porn business
was run by Mr Hogsden without his knowledge. However, as the taped
interview progressed, Mr Land, a member of the Kemptown executive
committee during the 1980s, admitted knowing about the mail order
operation, the Post Office box where orders were received, the countries
from which pornographic videos were bought for copying, the prices at
which they were sold – pounds 20 – and was able to name at least one of
the high-profile customers Mr Hogsden ‘boasted’ about having on his
mailing list.

He strenuously denied that any of the videos seized featured children
and he said he was in no way involved. In fact, the Independent has
confirmed that some of the videos were aimed at the paedophile market
and that Mr Land’s name was on the mailing box at Brighton Post Office
at which orders were received.

Sources say the men operated their business under the name J Heath.
They produced a catalogue with about 50 titles, most of which were gay
pornography under the titles ‘Brilliant Boys’ and ‘Golden Boys’. Mr Land
told the Independent other titles were from the ‘American Colt’
pornographic range bought by Mr Hogsden.

‘They were homosexual videos, not children,’ said Mr Land. ‘The
police said it was an international paedophile ring and that’s absolute
nonsense. John used to go over to France, he used to go to Amsterdam and
he used to buy these things over the counter . . . and bring them back
in a suitcase.

‘The makes of them were American Colt, which are basically the
bodybuilder type. There were never, to my knowledge, any children
involved whatsoever. He (Mr Hogsden) was not interested in that. There
are very few heterosexuals interested in child pornography. In the same
way, the number of homosexuals interested is a very low percentage.’

When police raided the second- floor room in Mr Land’s house, sources
say they found 500 videos neatly racked. There was a bank of nine video
recorders for reproduction, a television and a stacked computer system
with disk records that are still being analysed.

At the time, Scotland Yard announced it had cracked a major child pornography ring.

Mr Land, 50, is a former London School of Economics student and the
founder of the Brighton Line Commuters’ Association pressure group.
After a period as local chairman of the Liberal Party, he switched to
the Tories and became deputy chairman of the Kemptown association in the
mid-1980s.

He stood as a Conservative candidate in the Brighton Borough Council
elections in 1990 but said he left the association when he was replaced
by a woman whose husband had made a large donation to the party.

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