Mayor speaks of shock and anger at former councillor’s actions

Tom Dewey

Spared jail: former councillor Tom Dewey

Hackney’s Mayor said he was “angry, shocked and appalled” after a former councillor who was a tenant in the same house as he was convicted of possessing indecent images of children.

The scandal over former Labour high-flyer Thomas Dewey’s arrest for viewing indecent images of children days before he was elected to the council has rocked the Town Hall and angered party activists.

Tom Dewey was arrested by police at home after they had four “Cyber Tip” reports from internet companies that he had saved unlawful images of children on a Google drive.

Days after his arrest in April 2022 at the house share where the Mayor also lived, he was elected as a Labour councillor for De Beauvoir ward and smiled as the result was declared to cheering party activists.

He was well known in the party and had acted as an agent and organiser in the European and local elections in Hackney and  served as election agent for Meg Hillier in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency in the 2019 general election.

Previously, he had been heavily involved in the 2015 parliamentary campaign in Croydon Central, and helped Hackney’s Mayor draft Labour’s manifesto in 2018.

He resigned as a councillor and from the Labour Party days after the election, after the National Crime Agency (NCA) told the council about his arrest.

He  was spared jail, partly because he sought treatment and therapy soon after he was arrested by National Crime Agency detectives at his De Beauvoir house share in April 2022.

Hackney’s directly elected Mayor, Philip Glanville, was another tenant at the private rented house share at the time.

Thirty-six-year-old Dewey was given a 12-month suspended sentence by a judge at Wood Green Crown Court after admitting possessing indecent images of children.

He admitted a charge of making five category A indecent images of children, a further charge of making 41 category B indecent images, as well as making 203 category C indecent images of children, on 29 April 2022 in Hackney.

Images are graded, with category A considered the worst and could include sadistic images.

Dewey, now of Hampshire, also admitted a charge of possessing 78 extreme pornographic images of children on 29 April 2022 and having 1,523 prohibited images of children in his possession on or before 20 January 2022 – these   included cartoons or CGI images.

The court heard these were of “a grossly offensive or obscene” content and could involve extreme violence.

It emerged in court that the NCA found images dating back to 2008.

Mayor Philip Glanville agreed to an interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) following Dewey’s conviction and agreed on the basis that he would respond, by email, to questions. It was made clear to him that readers would be informed of this.

The Mayor told the LDRS he knew Tom Dewey for nine years, and of his shock when he learned what had happened and discovered the nature of the charges.

He said: “I was deeply shocked and personally devastated to be told that someone I thought I knew was under investigation. The full scale or scope of the terrible offences only became clear when Tom Dewey was charged in June 2023.

“Those feelings of betrayal, shock and anger have continued: as I have said before, the charges were ‘shocking and deeply disturbing’.”

Mayor Glanville said he was not aware that the NCA had visited the house.

Prosecutor Margia Mostafa told Wood Green Crown Court that Dewey was the “sole occupant” at the time of his arrest at 7.03am on 29 April.

The Mayor said he does not know if detectives searched the entire home.

“I don’t know, and at the time, was totally unaware that the NCA had been in the property. When I returned, none of my personal belongings were out of place, nor were there any signs of disturbance in the communal areas of the property.”

He first learnt of the arrest when the NCA contacted Hackney Council.

The then Chief executive Mark Carroll told the Mayor what had happened on Saturday 14 May and they spoke again on the Monday (16 May). By then, Mr Carroll had taken legal and safeguarding advice. He later held a meeting with Mr Dewey who subsequently resigned as councillor, just days after being elected.

Mr Glanville said: “I was clear the Council needed to focus on its safeguarding duties, and supported all action taken by the Council. I also supported, and welcomed, action taken by the Labour Party to ensure that Tom Dewey was no longer an elected councillor or a Labour Party member.”

The Mayor said the NCA did not inspect any of his personal or work electronic devices -“not at any point.”

He was asked to  explain how he did not know about the arrest given that it had taken place under the same roof.

He said: “I was not at the property during the NCA action and there had been no signs of that action at the property when I returned. Neither Tom Dewey nor the NCA alerted me to the investigation.

“The first knowledge I had about the action at the property – and the arrest – was on 14 May – nine days after the local elections. This was when I was briefed by the Chief Executive of Hackney Council following the Council having been alerted to the arrest by the NCA.“

He said the arrest happened in the last week before the council elections on Thursday 5 May “during which time I was rarely at home. I was also working full-time as Mayor. And I also spent considerable time at my then-partner’s home. The Crown Prosecutor reiterated in court that Tom Dewey was the sole occupant at the property at the time of the NCA action, and only his equipment was removed.”

He was asked why Mr Dewey continued campaigning and attended the election count, given the serious nature of the arrest.

The Mayor said: “I can’t speak or account for Mr Dewey or his actions.”

The Mayor moved out of the property the weekend he discovered what had happened, and did not return to live there until Mr Dewey had moved out permanently to an address in Hampshire, and has not seen him since.

Mayor Glanville said he “found out about his charging and guilty plea as well as today’s sentencing at the same time as the public. At each stage, I have been as angry, shocked and appalled by the unfolding nature of the investigation, and the crimes, as so many others have been.

“I have also been focused firmly on the victims of these awful crimes. I am now pleased that justice has been done.”

He was asked by the LDRS what he is doing as Mayor to safeguard children.

He responded: “I will always champion the need for safeguarding all our children in Hackney and wider society. It is an integral part of my role as the Mayor of Hackney and I am confident in the safeguarding principles that are followed by our Children’s Services. I also welcome the partnership between the safeguarding board and the Council, including the independent challenge they continue to provide.”

He said he took his role as “corporate parent” seriously and added: “The responsibility to prevent child abuse is a collective partnership duty and I wholeheartedly support the vitally important work that the police, other agencies and my colleagues in Children’s Services undertake to ensure that children are protected from harm every single day. ”

Hackney Council’s interim Chief Executive, Dawn Carter-McDonald, said: “Thomas Dewey’s crimes are abhorrent and incredibly upsetting. My thoughts are with the young victims and their families. ”

She added: “The Council was not aware of the arrest of Dewey prior to the local elections on 5 May. The Council was first alerted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) into its investigation on Friday 13 May. The Council immediately undertook all the safeguarding measures within its control and means, before alerting appropriate partners, and accepting Dewey’s resignation as a councillor as soon as practicable on Monday 16 May.

“The safeguarding of children is one of the most important jobs we do as a Council and it remains a priority for us.”