By DAISY SAMPSON and PAULO SILVESTRE
A British man who was arrested and heard before Loulé court after photographs of children were found on his digital camera claims the pictures were taken for research purposes.
The man, 48-year old Rhys Jones, was arrested on Marinotel beach in Vilamoura on August 19 by maritime police after complaints were made by parents.
A spokesman from the maritime police said: “We can confirm the existence of photographs of children between the ages of eight and 15 on the memory card.”
This was the first visit to the Algarve for Rhys Jones, who was at the end of a one week holiday in a hotel in Vilamoura with his wife and 14-year old son.
Algarve-based journalist Len Port spoke with Rhys Jones before his appearance in court on August 20.
“Rhys Jones admitted that he had taken “lots” of photographs of boys on the beach. He said that he took the photographs in connection with his job at Peacocks, where he is a senior executive with the retail clothes chain,” Len Port told the Algarve Resident.
“He said he was collecting ideas for a range of boys’ beachwear because some of the garments stocked in Peacocks stores overseas in places like Cyprus and Malta were “not right for holidaymakers”. It was his idea to take the photos and he confirmed that he had not been asked to take the pictures by Peacocks.”
Rhys Jones told Len Port: “I have been really stupid. When the parents approached me I realised what an idiot I had been. I haven’t had a chance to tell my story to the police and I was only asked about it by a very junior officer.”
Len Port said: “A witness on the beach said that Rhys Jones had tried to flee from angry parents, who were running after him. By this time, the maritime police had already been alerted and if the police had not intervened, Rhys Jones would have been assaulted, said the witness.”
A spokesman from the British Embassy in Lisbon told the Algarve Resident: “I can confirm that my colleagues at the Consulate in Portimão offered assistance to the British citizen. However, this was declined and he has now been released from the court where his details have been recorded for future reference.”
A spokesman from Loulé court confirmed that Rhys Jones had appeared in court on August 20.
“I can confirm that the case is being assessed and investigated by the courts but no further details relating to the case are available as the process is currently under the secrecy of justice,” said the spokesman.
After the hearing, Rhys Jones’ lawyer told Len Port that she had advised him not to tell his story to the court at this stage as it was a preliminary hearing.
Maritime police and parents of some of the pictured children gave evidence but Rhys Jones did not.
He was allowed to return to his home in Cardiff pending a court decision on whether or not he would have to return to Portugal to face charges.
A spokesman for Peacocks in the UK told the Algarve Resident: “Rhys Jones is an employee of Peacocks and at the time of the reported incident he was on a private holiday. We have no further statement to make on the case.”
In Portugal, it is a crime to take images of individuals without their consent and in the case of minors the consent must be given by the parent or guardian.
A Portuguese state lawyer told the Algarve Resident: “Individuals who are found taking pictures of minors should be reported to the appropriate authorities as a means of preventing paedophilia. By cooperating with foreign authorities, we can work to try and prevent further sad stories that haunt the safety and serenity of the Algarve region.”
British lawyer Julian Young told the Algarve Resident: “In Britain, you are able to take photos of anyone, anywhere as long as there are no security issues. A person can take a photograph but would then need permission to be able to use it as there are no automatic blanket privacy laws as yet in Britain.
“In cases such as this, it would be more normal to use professional models to show swimwear and permission to use the photos for whatever reason would be needed.”
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