Regulator contacts charity after former trustee convicted of child sex offences

Heathcliffe Bowen, 50, was imprisoned for five years by Bradford Crown Court; he had been a trustee for four years at Yorkshire Mesmac, a charity that runs child sexual exploitation projects

Heathcliffe Bowen
Heathcliffe Bowen

The Charity Commission has been in contact with the trustees of a charity that runs child sexual exploitation projects after one its former trustees was jailed for a string of child sex offences.

The regulator said it had been in touch with trustees of Yorkshire Mesmac after Heathcliffe Bowen, 50, was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on Monday to five years imprisonment for three counts of making and possessing indecent images of children, attempting to meet a child after sexual grooming and three counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was also convicted of four counts of distributing indecent images of children, causing a child to look at images of people engaged in sexual activity and attempting to arrange or arranging the commission of a child sex offence.

Bowen was a trustee for Yorkshire Mesmac between 2010 and 2014.

A spokeswoman for the regulator said the charity’s trustees contacted the commission yesterday about the matter.

"We will be in contact with them as a matter of urgency to ensure that the charity’s safeguarding procedures are robust and to ascertain that there are policies in place to protect its beneficiaries," she said.

"Incidents of this nature are of serious concern to the commission, and we have emphasised that charity trustees must make the safeguarding of beneficiaries and anyone that comes into contact with their charity a key governance priority."

In a statement, the charity said: "Heathcliffe Bowen last attended a board of trustees meeting in 2013. He formally resigned from the board in February 2014 before any allegations came to light. He was required to resign as a director of our trading arm when we were made aware that he was under investigation.

"Mr Bowen’s former roles with Yorkshire Mesmac were not ones involving direct work with young people. We would like to thank the police and others who secured this conviction."

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