Current Affairs

EXCLUSIVE: Pembroke don pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

Pembroke philosophy tutor Dr Peter J King pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday, The Oxford Blue can reveal.

Pembroke College sent an email to its philosophy students and later to its JCR and MCR on Thursday confirming this information and revealing that the tutor was “expected to plead guilty”, and revealing that Dr King has been “immediately suspended from his employment in college, pending disciplinary proceedings.” Dr King’s profile has been removed from the Pembroke College website, and his Oxford University email address has been suspended. Oxford University declined to comment further.

Pembroke philosophy students have revealed that Dr King did not schedule tutorials in Hilary term, and had not responded to emails from his students in recent weeks.

One of King’s students commented to The Blue, saying: “the only thing we spoke about this term was reviewing my collection. We corresponded about the collection through email but after he returned it and I emailed a time I could meet he never replied. I never felt uncomfortable or nervous around him which is why it was so much of a shock for me to realise that someone I admired and respected could do such a disgusting and horrible thing.”

King published a paper in 2008 about the ethics of child pornography entitled “No Plaything: Ethical Issues Concerning Child-pornography”, in which he claimed that “child-pornography is a more complex matter (than adult pornography), and that generally accepted moral judgements concerning pornography in general have to be revised when children are involved.”

In the paper, published by scientific journal Springer, King posed the “possibility of a morally acceptable form of child-pornography.” In a note on the paper he calls statutory rape “consensual”, and comments on “natural” images of naked children which are viewed by paedophiles as being able to exist in “a way that is at least morally neutral”. He moves further to say that “if it reduces the market for abusive material, it might even be morally good”, and that “no harm is done to the subjects or to the producers, and I can see no realistic way in which harm is being done to the consumers.”

Dr King read for his undergraduate degree at Middlesex Polytechnic, and his B.Phil and D.Phil at Brasenose College, Oxford. He taught philosophy at Christ Church and Somerville College, Oxford before becoming a professor and tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford.

Pembroke College told The Oxford Blue: “Peter King has been suspended from College, pending disciplinary proceedings. The College has immediately put in place welfare and academic support for its students and staff.”

The Oxford Blue has now learnt that Peter King pleaded guilty to making 2,992 indecent images of children. See our updated news here.

The Faculty of Philosophy and Dr King have also been contacted for comment.

Lois Heslop

Lois Heslop is the co-founder of The Oxford Blue and was Editor-in-Chief for HT20 and TT20. She is in her second year studying Physics at Lady Margaret Hall, and hails from South London. Her other interests include classical music and opera, and she is currently a choral scholar.