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Ex-UKIP candidate, 48, who avoided jail for having sex with teenager KEEPS role as charity trustee 

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A charity director and failed UKIP candidate who admitted to paying a 16-year-old girl for sex has been allowed to continue in his public role.

Ken Lowry, 48, who is a director and trustee of the national CERT UK charity, and also runs his own company called Homeless Birmingham, admitted to a charge of ‘paying for sex with a child’ in December last year.

The court appearance came just weeks after the former soldier was nominated for a Lord Mayor’s special recognition for helping those living on the streets during the pandemic.

However charity chiefs have revealed they are standing by Lowry, so he can ‘continue the amazing good work that he’s done in Birmingham’. Bosses at CERT UK say safeguarding measures have been put in place.

It comes as Lowry’s victim, now 17, said she was ‘vulnerable and mentally unstable’ when she agreed to have sex with Lowry for £120.

She say the charity boss had sex with her while her own relative, who ‘wanted the money to go to a party’, sat and watched.

Lowry was later charged with an offence of ‘having sex with a child’ – which can carry a maximum five year sentence.

Though the girl was over the legal age of consent at the time, she was under the age of 18 – the legal age for sex work.

Lowry told a court he had met the girl on Craigslist – an online classified adverts website – after posting a request for sexual services and that he ‘believed’ his victim to be over the age of 18.

In February, Lowry, from Rubery, was sentenced to a two-year community order and 40 days rehabilitation order and was also ordered to serve a month’s curfew.

His victim, now 17, has now spoken out because of what she sees as a ‘lenient sentence’.

Ken Lowry, 48, who is a director and trustee of the national CERT UK charity and also runs his own company called Homeless Birmingham, admitted to a charge of 'paying for sex with a child' in December last year

Ken Lowry, 48, who is a director and trustee of the national CERT UK charity and also runs his own company called Homeless Birmingham, admitted to a charge of ‘paying for sex with a child’ in December last year

She has also raised concerns that Lowry has been allowed to continue in his role with CERT UK, with ‘safeguarding measures’ in place.

The victim claims she was ‘vulnerable and unstable mentally’ when she agreed to have sex with Lowry for £120 in 2020, with the offence taking place at his home.

She said: ‘Kenneth was charged with paying for the sexual services of a child. He paid £120 to have sex with me whilst a relative of mine sat and watched. My relative had wanted the money to go to a party.’

The teenager told police she had agreed to have sex with Lowry and that she had felt pressured into it by her relative. She claimed the incident had left her traumatised. 

Lowry, when contacted by BirminghamLive, claimed the girl had been a sex worker who had replied to his advert for ‘legal age sex’ placed on the Craigslist website.

The victim confirmed she was paid £120 by Lowry. She denied working as a prostitute and BirminghamLive understands the victim was not described as a prostitute or sex worker at court.

What is the charge of ‘paying for sex with a child’ in UK law and what is the punishment?

‘Paying for the sexual services of a child’ is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Introduced in 2014, the law is sometimes confusing because it covers offences involving victims who are aged 16 and 17 – which is above the legal age of consent for sex in the UK.

But the law is there specifically to protect under 18s from paid sex work. 

The charge only applies to paid sex work for those aged 16 and 17.

Anyone paying someone younger than 16 would be charged under the usual charge of ‘sexual activity with a child’.

Those paying someone younger than 13 would be charged with ‘rape of a child’.

For those paying for sex with victims between the ages of 16 and 17, sentences range from a community order – a non custodial sentence – and a  maximum prison sentence of five years.

Lowry said: ‘I believed she was over 18 at the time because it was an over-18 site that she was on, Craigslist. 

‘My advert was for sexual services and she actually contacted me, not the other way around.

‘My ad asked for legal age sexual services. 100 per cent those words were in. It wasn’t specific to any age, it had to be over the legal age because I’ve seen other ads on that site that didn’t specify an age.’

Speaking of his regret at the offence, he added: ‘Oh, I’m absolutely disgusted, I’m at loggerheads with myself. I’m disgusted.

‘Again, to be clear, she was over the age of consent. It’s the fact that she was over the age of consent is what actually happened. And if money had not changed hands there would have been no issue.

‘If no money changed hands then there would have been no criminal activity whatsoever.’

Stressing the sex was consensual, Lowry added: ‘She came into my house, she took her own clothes off of her own free will, we engaged and then that was it. And then I dropped them back off at the train station and that was the last I heard of it.’

Asked if the girl’s relative was present and watched while he had sex with the 16-year-old, he said: ‘Yes, that’s correct.’

The victim confirmed that she kept the majority of the payment.

In the UK, it is illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to pay for the sexual services of anyone under the age of 18. 

Sentencing guidelines for the offence of paying for the sexual services of a child if a victim is aged 16-17 can range from a community order to a five year prison sentence.

A West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman confirmed that Lowry pleaded guilty to an indictment containing one count of paying for the sexual services of a child, contrary to s.47(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The particulars of the offence were that Lowry ‘intentionally obtained for himself the sexual services’ of the victim, ‘a child under the age of 18 years, that is 16 years, not reasonably believing that she was of or over the age of 18, and before obtaining those services he promised payment for those services to’ the victim.

West Midlands Police confirmed a 21-year-old woman had been arrested on suspicion of causing or inciting sexual exploitation of a child and was later released without charge.

After avoiding a jail sentence, Lowry stood as a UKIP candidate in May’s Scottish Parliament elections, having previously stood for the party in local elections in Northfield.

He was also given the green light to continue in his director and trustee role with Cert UK Ltd (Community Emergency Response Team UK), but with ‘safeguarding measures’ in place.

The charity was initially set up to help people affected by the damage caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015 and as CERT (UK) Ltd expanded to help former military personnel, victims of natural disasters, homelessness and domestic violence.

Kerryanne Wilde, founder and director of the charity, defended the decision to allow Lowry to continue in his trustee role and also claimed the victim was a ‘prostitute’.

Kerryanne Wilde, founder and director of CERT UK, defended the decision to allow Lowry to continue in his trustee role and also claimed the victim was a 'prostitute'

Kerryanne Wilde, founder and director of CERT UK, defended the decision to allow Lowry to continue in his trustee role and also claimed the victim was a ‘prostitute’

She said: ‘Kenneth’s admitted that he had sex with a prostitute, she was 16, so he paid for sex with a prostitute at the end of the day she was 16 and it was consensual at the time.

‘As an organisation, we’ve put measures in place so that Kenneth could come back and continue the amazing good work that he’s done in Birmingham, the thousands of families and individuals that he’s helped and supported and built Homeless Birmingham over the years.

‘We put measures in place that Kenneth wasn’t allowed to be with anyone under the age of 18 on his own, he was always to be with any vulnerable individual with another member of the team there and we review that on a regular basis.

‘We’ve done our due diligence as an organisation, we’ve done our safeguarding and we’ve put in place measures for that.’

She added: ‘As a charity we support the vulnerable, we support those that do have convictions, we support veterans and Kenneth admitted what he’d done.

‘We’ve not turned anyone away and we wouldn’t turn Kenneth away from all the great work that he’s done in the Birmingham area to support the vulnerable, the homeless, after being on the streets himself as a veteran.

‘As soon as we were made aware of the situation we put in place our safeguarding measures, straightaway, as soon as it was brought to our attention by Kenneth, of what accusations had been made against him.

‘As an organisation we’re in a bit of a rock and a hard place. We say in our constitution and we say in everything that we do we support all the vulnerable, ex offenders and whatever else.

‘If we had turned out back on Kenneth it wouldn’t have looked good on us because we weren’t supporting him as an ex offender.

‘And we weren’t supporting him as a veteran and we weren’t also supporting him in the fact that Homeless Birmingham was his lightbulb moment as I call it.

‘It was him working to give something back to the community, after him finding himself homeless on the streets.’

Lowry is a charity boss who has helped the homeless as part of his group Homeless Birmingham. Pictured: A Library image of a person sleeping rough in a doorway

Lowry is a charity boss who has helped the homeless as part of his group Homeless Birmingham. Pictured: A Library image of a person sleeping rough in a doorway

A person is disqualified from acting as a charity trustee or holding a senior management position if they are placed on the Sex Offenders Register, but Lowry was not placed on the register.

A Charity Commission declined to comment on the conviction but added: ‘A charity should be a safe place. 

‘We encourage anyone with concerns about a charity to share information with us, so that we can assess it carefully’.

The Commission has discretionary powers to consider removal of a trustee in circumstances where they are convicted of an offence which is not included in the list of crimes which warrant automatic disqualification. 

It is understood Lowry is not under investigation by the Charity Commission. 

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