A policeman has been found guilty of gross misconduct after posting paywalled pornographic images of himself online to raise money for a hair transplant.
Harry Edwards, 25, based in Watford, failed to declare to his chief constable that he was raking in money on the side from his OnlyFans account, where he offered pay-per-view pictures and videos of a sexual nature.
The officer, who was employed by Hertfordshire Constabulary before resigning last September, told a misconduct panel he had planned to use the money he earned from his side hustle for a hair transplant to remedy his receding hairline.
Mr Edwards said he had tried to preserve his anonymity by using a face-modifying application to alter the photos.
However, Mr Edwards was recognised by an acquaintance who viewed the pornographic content and reported it to the officer’s superiors.
Jenny Oborne, representing Hertfordshire Constabulary, told the panel:
‘The allegation relates to the operation of an OnlyFans account and a second allegation is of failing to declare a business interest to the chief constable.
‘The existence of his OnlyFans account came to the attention of the police via a member of the public.
‘It became apparent that Mr Edwards was using the account to upload and sell sexualised images.
‘The website is subscription-based, where users can sell original content – the use that account was for content that was sexual in nature.
‘He had been using the pseudonym Brett Hunter.
‘He had advertised the page under the alias on Twitter.
‘In a pinned tweet he wrote: ‘Lockdown has been long, let’s make it messy’ with a hyperlink to the OnlyFans account.
‘The site remained active for a number of months,’ said Ms Oborne.
‘The amount made was $62 dollars, which equates to about £45.
‘It’s not apparent what content that money was received from – it is likely to have been more than one source, because OnlyFans was advertised as three dollars entry.’
Edwards admitted breaching his duties and responsibilities as a police constable and breaching conduct from March 21 to July 1, 2020, at the start of the two-day misconduct hearing.
The hearing was told that the admission was because Edwards behaved in a manner that might bring the police service into disrepute in that he opened and operated an account on the OnlyFans social media platform in the name of ‘Brett Hunter’.
The panel also heard that Edwards failed to carry out his duties and responsibilities diligently, in that he held a business interest in the OnlyFans account without the prior authorisation of the chief constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary.
Mr Edwards spoke to the misconduct panel directly, saying: ‘I used the pseudonym to hide my identity because I didn’t want anyone else, such as friends and family, to know what I was doing.
‘I also felt embarrassment.
‘Not all of the posts were sexual – some were topless pictures and some were pictures of me in my clothes.
‘I did it because the start-up was cost-free and I could do it in my own room.
‘At the time, during lockdown, overtime in the police was not an option.
‘I didn’t realise (it was a breach of conduct) at the time.
‘I closed the account because I think I realised “what the hell am I doing?” – It got to a point where I wasn’t making any money whatsoever.
‘I had a reality check.
‘I cropped most of the pictures to take out my face.
‘I used an app to change certain features – I made my nose smaller and my face thinner.
‘The photos however do identify me.
‘The money I received from this account I would have used for my hair transplant.
‘My use of OnlyFans has left me feeling disgusted.
‘It has ruined friendships with people, it has ruined my career and it has strained relationships with my partner’s parents.
‘It has actually got to the point where if anyone mentions OnlyFans as a general topic, I can’t deal with it.’
A lawyer defending Edwards, said:
‘This is a pay-per-view site – he accepts he received money from people to view his content.
‘However OnlyFans accounts are also used for other means such as fitness accounts, showing diet plans and workouts.
‘Mr Edwards turned to OnlyFans for additional income, for a hair transplant resulting from his low self-esteem.
‘He was reported not because he was identified on the site, but identified as a user of the site by someone he knew personally.’
Edwards, who now works as an operations manager, had resigned from the Hertfordshire force in September 2021 – since the investigation began – but maintained his leaving was not due to fear of dismissal.
Panel Chairman Darren Snow, sitting alongside Superintendent Sue Jameson and independent panel member, Liz McEwan, ruled that the allegation of the operating the OnlyFans was gross misconduct, and failing to declare it as a business interest was misconduct.
Mr Snow said: ‘We are perplexed that Mr Edwards did not explore other options of gaining income. For the panel it is a strange move to make for a police officer.’