A FORMER councillor who confessed to child pornography offences is facing prison.

Ex-colleagues have expressed ‘deep shock’ after it emerged that Labour’s Richard Smith, who represented Nelson’s Clover Hill ward on Pendle Council, had been investigated over indecent images.


Smith, 32, of Waidshouse Road, appeared before Burnley magistrates and admitted to three offences of making indecent photographs, on August 20 and July 24 last year.

Magistrates committed him on unconditional bail to appear for sentence at Burnley Crown Court on September 28.

A police spokesman said Smith was initially arrested on November 12 last year, on suspicion of downloading and viewing indecent images of under-age boys.

Smith, who also served as a Nelson town councillor and served on the borough’s licensing committee and scrutiny management team, was finally charged with the offences on July 27 and bailed to appear at court.

He had indicated last year that he intended to step down as a borough councillor but this was short-circuited in early December when he confirmed he was quitting local politics for ‘personal reasons’.

The ex-councillor, who grew up in the Clover Hill area, also served for a period as Pendle Labour Party’s ‘Young Labour’ officer.

Last night Cllr Eileen Ansar, who still represents Clover Hill, said: “I am very surprised and shocked. He was a very able and competent councillor who was very active in our local community action team.

“Everyone thought that he had stepped down very suddenly but no-one suspected anything like this.”

It is understood that Smith did not disclose the circumstances of his arrest when he tendered his resignation with Labour group leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal later.

But Cllr Joe Cooney, Conservative group leader, said: “The Labour Party have questions to answer about how much they knew about this. The council has done a lot of work on child exploitation, and the willingness of people to come forward and report matters, and if the party in control of the council was prepared to cover this up then I would be very concerned.”

Smith, who has worked in the holiday cottages industry and is understood not to be married, won the seat for Labour from the Liberal Democrats in 2011, with more than 50 per cent of the vote.

In his 2010 election leaflet, he said: “I find working with younger people very rewarding and hope to help them develop various projects that will benefit both Clover Hill ward and Nelson.”

Under the sentencing powers of the crown court, often depending on the number and severity of the images, the maximum prison sentence is 10 years, on conviction.