A METROPOLITAN Police intelligence officer charged with child sex offences has appeared before a Basingstoke court.

Detective Constable Francois Olwage has indicated not guilty pleas to four charges of child sex offences relating to alleged crimes between October 14 and 28 in Stevenage, his home town, and also in Basingstoke.

The 51-year-old, of Wornham Avenue, Stevenage, had allegedly been in conversation online with a 13-year-old girl, that turned out to be an undercover police officer. He is said to have travelled to Basingstoke in the hope of meeting her when he was arrested by the officers running the operation.

The Metropolitan Police Officer, an intelligence officer for the Specialist Operations branch, which handles counter-terror operations and protects members of the royal family and politicians, has served in the force for "18 to 19 years".

He is charged with the following offences following an investigation led by Hertfordshire Police:

  • Attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child
  • Attempting to cause/incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity
  • Arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence
  • Meeting a girl under 16 years of age following grooming

The court heard that DC Olwage is a "man of previously good character", and that he "intends to fight these matters", according to his defence counsel Rob Chandler.

Finding that the alleged offences are too serious to be dealt with before the magistrates court, District Judge Timothy Pattinson said: "These are serious allegations where a substantial breach of trust is alleged."

The 51-year-old has been suspended from the force following his arrest in Basingstoke yesterday.

District Judge Pattinson had granted DC Olwage unconditional bail, but prosecutor David Fossler appealed the judge's decision. He will now remain in custody until a Crown Court judge has the final say.

DC Olwage will appear before Winchester Crown Court on December 1.

The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed and DC Olwage has been suspended.

The matter has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Detective Chief Superintendent Donna Smith, Directorate of Professional Standards, said: “The arrest of DC Olwage follows a comprehensive investigation by detectives from Hertfordshire Police and we will continue to offer them every support as their enquiries continue.

“He was suspended following his arrest for this serious and concerning offence. He has been charged and will now face criminal proceedings.

“It is important that nothing is said or published that could pose a risk to those proceedings.”

The Specialist Operations Directorate are responsible for national security and counter terrorism operations.

The Gazette led a bid by the press to challenge an application by his solicitor to have DC Olwage's address hidden from the public.

The address had been omitted from the Metropolitan Police's statement this morning, and Mr Chandler applied for a reporting restriction banning the identification of his address.

But The Gazette challenged the application, stating the principles of open justice, that reporting restrictions in this matter cannot be used for the "thoughts and feelings" of defendants, and it cannot be used to shield family members of the defendant from publicity of the case.

The application was supported by other journalists in attendance, including from the London Evening Standard, Daily Mail and Hyde News and Pictures.

District Judge Pattinson side in favour of the press, stating: "There is a very strong interest in there being open justice.

"Allegations of a sexual nature often attract adverse publicity but I must be very careful not to put a police officer in any different category from another member of the public. It would be not right for me to do that.

"One of the well known cases on press restriction deals with that issue.

"I’ve decided that in this case I must refuse the defence application."