Town website: The sordid truth
Today, the Mail carries this comment piece about HU17.net publisher Paul Smith's links to pornography websites.
READERS of this newspaper will be understandably alarmed to learn today that a man running a community website focused on Beverley is linked to a host of hardcore pornography sites.
Beverley resident Paul Smith has used his skills in website creation, design and development to set up HU17.net, a website focused on news, sport and community events in the town.
The site earned Mr Smith credibility and connections in Beverley. He even became a member of a partnership group promoting the town.
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However, behind the veneer of respectability are some very unpleasant activities indeed. Mr Smith has been making money out of building pornographic websites.
He has built a vast array of hardcore sex sites, all registered in his company’s name and available on the Internet until they were suddenly closed after we confronted Mr Smith with our findings earlier this week.
We had heard rumours of Mr Smith’s sordid activities and became particularly concerned when his Beverley website was endorsed by East Riding Council.
We decided to investigate, as we would in any such circumstances. The result is the revelations we publish today.
What Mr Smith has done is not illegal, but it is certainly not consistent with publishing a responsible local website carrying reports, pictures and videos of community events and activities, many featuring children. It is in the public interest that people know the truth about the man behind HU17.net
Mr Smith claimed in an interview with our reporter that he merely created the porn sites and had nothing to do with the photographs and video footage that appear on them. We are not in a position to dispute that. Nevertheless, he was clearly aware of the sordid nature of that content.
He says he has left his unpleasant past behind him. But, if so, why did so many sites still exist that were registered to a company of which he is the sole director and shareholder?
And why, when approached by our undercover reporter, did Mr Smith so readily respond to the request to build a website featuring naked pictures promoting escort services? It is interesting that Mr Smith asked our reporter to keep the business arrangement “between themselves”.
Clearly, a number of organisations were unaware of Mr Smith’s clandestine activities when they endorsed HU17.net. But now that we have exposed the truth behind Mr Smith’s Internet interests, people and organisations in the town are in a position to decide whether he is an appropriate person to be operating a website that purports to be “all about Beverley”.
The Mail has kept the comments facility on this story to allow debate to continue, but offensive postings will be removed.