Monday, 16 June 2014
Chris Leydon, who produced video content for technology news blog Tech City News and was a freelance video editor for the Guardian newspaper, has been arrested and charged with child rape.
Leydon was charged with three counts of sexual assault, including one count of anal rape, and four counts of possessing indecent images of children. He was released on conditional bail in March of this year.
Leydon, 25, of Hardwick Place, London, who has been employed by tech blogs, tech events companies, the Guardian and even venture capital firms to produce video content, was first arrested on 15 March 2013.
He was later charged, on 11 March 2014, with anally raping a boy under the age of 13, and of sexually assaulting and inciting to sexual activity another boy, who was 10 or 11 at the time of the assault, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
He was released on bail in March of this year on the condition that he did not contact either of his alleged victims, nor come into contact with any person under the age of 18 years unless as a result of unavoidable everyday activity.He is due to appear in court on 21 July.
Leydon is alleged by the Police to have downloaded at least twelve indecent videos of children, one of which was rated as “5” on the COPINE scale, defined as “deliberately posed pictures of fully, partially clothed or naked children in sexualised or provocative poses”. The videos were discovered on his laptop.
The Police also recovered videos of Leydon conducting “lone sexual activity”.
Leydon is understood to have worked as an independent contractor for American technology blog TechCrunch, the British technology events company 3 Beards, a European technology awards ceremony, London-based startup GoSquared, venture capital firm Index Ventures and charitable initiative Young Rewired State.
Several of these companies are aware of his arrest but continue to use him to the present day. He was employed by Tech City News to edit the blog’s “Week In Tech” video, despite that blog’s knowledge of his arrest.
Previously he acted as community manager for GoSquared as well as filming events for the Guardian and he organises a “teen tech” conference called Tomorrow’s Web, giving him significant access to impressionable young men.
Government quango Tech City UK shared links to his blog posts and he has worked on advertising material for a site promoted by TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp, raising questions about how seriously some startups – not to mention Government departments – take their reputations, given that the allegations about him have been widely disseminated for over a year.
Leydon, until now a regular on the London tech scene, filmed “Digital Sizzle” events for London tech events company 3 Beards, despite his arrest being common knowledge, filmed a Hacker News London meetup, filmed the DVD of comedian Ed Byrne’s tour and recorded the opening of the Techstars London office.
As recently as February 2014, he was hired to film the Government-backed Year of Code launch – a campaign which has since run aground, being called a public relations disaster by the BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones.
This morning, his Twitter feed showed multiple concurrent projects for well-known technology websites and industry functions.
Leydon was suspended from LGBT organisation Student Pride last week after these allegations came to light. He posted the following message on the organisation’s Facebook page on Sunday.
It is unclear why Leydon, who is no longer a student and has no track record of gay rights advocacy, continues to be involved in Student Pride events. Student Pride did not return a request for comment.
In January 2013, Leydon took to tech blog The Next Web to complain that his Facebook account had been suspended. I reported at the time that a source inside Facebook confirmed he had been harassing other users and distributing unsolicited photographs.
In 2011, Leydon recorded a video in which he is seen vigorously anally pleasuring himself with a large pink dildo. He published it on amateur pornography site gayboystube.com under the title “Twink Geek Fucks Himself”. The video is extremely sexually explicit.
Asked why they gave Leydon money and a position of influence in an industry which is actively encouraging participation from teens through coding initiatives, potentially putting him in front of vulnerable young people, despite widespread knowledge of his alleged sexual assaults, Leydon’s former employers have generally been reluctant to respond.
Tech City News did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
3 Beards wrote: “3 Beards no longer use the services of Mr Leydon for a variety of professional reasons. Mr Leydon was a freelance contractor who we used for event filming and editing on a case-by-case basis. We do not feel it would be appropriate to discuss the case at this time.”
When contacted last night, Chris Leydon referred enquiries to his legal representatives, who declined to comment.
Disclosure: in 2012, Leydon recorded a short video for a company I owned at the time, The Kernel, for which he did not request nor receive payment. His content, which was commissioned without my prior knowledge, was briefly published on YouTube but has since been removed.
Posted in: Technology