Former top Welsh lobbyist jailed for for distributing images of children being abused
The former head of a prominent Welsh lobbying company has been jailed for three years and four months at Newport Crown Court after pleading guilty to five offences relating to the possession and distribution of indecent images of children.
Daran Hill, 52, was the founder and managing director of Positif Politics before stepping down two years ago.
He admitted two charges of distributing indecent images of children via WhatsApp, the first consisting of five Category A images of children, the most serious category and the second also of five indecent images,
In addition he pleaded guilty to making eight Category A, four Category B and 50 Category C images.
Prosecuting counsel Owen Williams described in graphic detail the horrific nature of the images distributed by Hill, which included videos of girls as young as three being sexually abused.
Hill’s crimes were aggravated by the fact that he distributed the material on a sharing app called Kik Messenger as well as via WhatsApp.
Mr Williams described how Hill had been arrested at his home in Cardiff after the National Crime Agency had confirmed his involvement in a group that shared child abuse images online.
When officers arrived at his home, he told them he knew why they were there but said he had only accessed indecent images on his iPhone very briefly and didn’t understand why he had done it as he didn’t enjoy it.
It subsequently emerged that there were indecent images on his laptop as well as his phone.
The police investigation established that Hill had distributed indecent material to two groups of individuals, one of 96 people and another of 55 people. In addition he had sent the material to individuals.
Hill had also offered advice to others seeking child abuse material about how they could access it on the internet.
Jeffrey Jones, for Hill, said his client had been at a very low point when he committed the offences, having suffered a number of traumatic events. His mother had Alzheimer’s and had died in December 2020. Subsequently a very good friend had died.
He had also been badly affected by lockdown, which made him isolated and depressed and during which he turned to alcohol.
He was ashamed, disgusted and embarrassed by the offences he had committed. He had had to give up his career and leave home.
Sentencing Hill, Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, the Recorder of Cardiff, said that people like him were responsible for the abuse of children. There were a number of aggravating factors in his case, including the gravity of the images, the fact that children as young as three had been abused, the fact that he had distributed the material and that he had been offering advice to others about how to access similar abusive images.
Judge Lloyd-Clarke said that in line with sentencing guidelines she had reduced his sentence because of his guilty pleas. He would serve half the sentence in custody.
Hill’s downfall has shocked the Welsh political world. Positif Politics quickly became the largest public affairs company in Wales, with clients in the public, private and third sectors.
Yes for Wales
A familiar figure in and around the Senedd, Hill was director of the Yes for Wales campaign at the time of the devolution referendum in 1997 that led to the establishment of what is now the Senedd.
Originally from Port Talbot, he studied at Cardiff University and became an activist in the National Union of Students.
Following his involvement with the referendum campaign, he became one of the best known political commentators in Wales, writing articles and making frequent appearances on TV and radio.
He socialised with politicians and those who worked for them, and was for a time an adviser to Paul Davies, the then leader of the Welsh Conservative Senedd group. Earlier he had edited the diaries of another former Welsh Conservative leader, Lord Nick Bourne.
Hill was a family friend of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria and before Sir Keir was first elected as an MP in 2015 hosted a lunch at a Cardiff restaurant, the Potted Pig, where he was introduced to leading Welsh Labour figures and commentators. He was a contemporary at school with Education Minister Jeremy Miles.
Positif Politics was founded by Hill in 2006 and he remained a director until September 2021, when he resigned. He subsequently sold his stake in the company to some of its employees, who took it over in a management buy-out.
Hill was initially the majority shareholder in Positif Politics but a document filed to Companies House stated that he ceased to be a person with significant control and resigned as a director in September 2021.
He subsequently lived for a time in Kent, where he advertised his services as a proofreader. Later he worked behind a bar in Pontypridd. Recently, as a condition of bail after admitting the offences, he has been living in a friend’s house in Swansea.
Some Welsh news outlets became aware that Hill had been arrested in 2021, but were advised by their lawyers not to report that unless and until he was charged.
First arrested in August 2021, Hill was charged with the five offences on April 24 2023.
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