Two former Met Police officers have been charged with offences relating to images of child abuse after a serving chief inspector facing charges was found dead at his home.
An inquest has been opened into the death of Richard Watkinson, who was a Met chief inspector for neighbourhoods policing at the West Area Command Unit.
The 49-year-old was found dead at his Buckinghamshire home on Thursday, January 12 by Met officers, after welfare concerns were raised. Thames Valley Police is treating the death as unexplained but not suspicious.
He was due to answer bail that day to be charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent photos of a child, voyeurism and two counts of misconduct in public office.
As part of the same investigation, Jack Addis, 63, of no fixed address in Perthshire, Scotland, and Jeremy Laxton, 62, from Lincolnshire, have been charged and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday February 9.
Addis is charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children.
Laxton is charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent photos of a child, possession of prohibited images of a child, possession of extreme pornographic images and intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence (misconduct in public office).
The alleged offences took place between January 1, 2018 and September 20, 2021.
Both are retired Met officers who left the service more than a decade ago.
The investigation has been carried out by Met Specialist Crime officers in liaison with Police Scotland and Lincolnshire Police.
Chief Insp Watkinson was initially arrested in July 2021 by investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct, assisted by the Met’s Specialist Crime Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Unit and Directorate of Professional Standards. Following a re-assessment by the IOPC, the case was returned to the Met’s Specialist Crime Command for investigation.
Commander Jon Savell, from the Directorate of Professional Standards, said: “Ch Insp Watkinson was facing extremely serious and concerning charges, as the result of a painstaking and thorough police investigation.
“Before this matter came to light, we had no previous information about these allegations or to indicate the officer posed any risk to the public. He had not faced any other criminal or conduct matters during his Met career. He had been suspended from duty since his arrest.
“Two other men were also arrested during the course of the investigation and have been charged, their matters will now progress through the courts.”
Laxton was arrested in September 2021 and Addis in November 2021.