Ex-British Army officer paid P500,000 to watch online abuse of PH kids

MANILA, Philippines – A former British Army officer is set to land in jail after investigators were able to prove that he paid a woman in the Philippines £8,584* (around P577,486) to watch Filipino children sexually abused online.

Andrew Whiddett made 31 payments to her totaling £6,425 (P431,641) between January 2015 and January 2016. And he made another 18 payments to her totaling £2,158 (P144,977) between April 2016 and July 2017, the British National Crime Agency (NCA) said in a statement on Thursday, April 25.

In one instance on November 21, 2015, Whiddett paid £31.41 (P2,111) to watch a 9-year-old girl abused. (READ: Philippines top global source of child pornography – Unicef)

On April 24, Wednesday, at a trial in London's Croydon Crown Court, the 70-year-old former lieutenant colonel, admitted live-streaming offenses and making indecent images of children. He pleaded guilty to 6 sexual abuse charges.

He was convicted the same day and the BBC reported: "A judge warned the 70-year-old, of Minerva Crescent, Portsmouth, he would be jailed when sentenced on 22 May."

The NCA statement recounted a 25-minute conversation with the woman from the Philippines on September 28, 2016, when Whiddett appeared to plan on meeting and sexually abusing a child in person.

Whiddett apparently asked for a girl and commented “need to do more teaching”, “look forward to touch”, “yes darling, need to open her mind”, and “lots of teaching before I arrive.”

Travel records show he flew to Manila, Philippines, on October 21, 2016. It remains unclear whether the trip was for this supposedly planned encounter with the child.

The NCA said Whiddett had online exchanges with other Filipino “child sex abuse facilitators.” In his online conversations,  he said “nice pics”, “do you think I bad asking for them”, “If I visit would you let me see daughter”, and “If I visit what you allow me to do”.

Whiddett’s trial

Whiddett, who has no previous convictions, was arrested on October 31, 2017 at Heathrow Airport in London.

Ever since his trial began, he has admitted to sending 158 payments to the Philippines, but claimed they were for live adult sex shows.

After retiring from the British Army as a lieutenant colonel, Whiddett worked as a private contractor as head of security at the British Embassy in Baghdad. He was awarded in November 2015 an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his service in Northern Ireland.

“Andrew Whiddett was directly responsible for the soul-destroying abuse of children thousands of miles away from him. He thought he could get away with abusing Filipino children from the comfort of his own home,” said NCA senior investigating officer Gary Fennelly.

According to the NCA, they are in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the International Justice Mission to continue to track down more child abuse facilitators in the Philippines and sexual predators abroad. (READ: How we can end child pornography today)

Just in February the United Kingdom, Philippine, and Australian law enforcement agencies launched the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC)—the first international center to battle the high number of online sexual exploitation cases of Filipino children. – Rappler.com

*£1 = P67.34

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.