he Metropolitan Police have been criticised for a “dereliction of duty” over failing to investigate a British paedophile who has been on the run since 2017.
Convicted paedophile Daniel Erickson-Hull is thought to be living in a deprived neighbourhood in the city of Sliven, in Bulgaria, where he poses as a missionary and youth worker.
It is feared he has abused children while there, with witnesses saying they reported evidence of offending but the Metropolitan Police has failed to act.
Former prosecutor Nazir Afzal told a BBC Radio 4 programme that he suspects “potentially hundreds of children [have been] abused by this suspect.”
The Metropolitan Police has said it is not investigating Erickson-Hill but for anyone with information to get in touch.
The 46-year-old, from Plaistow in east London, was jailed in 2017 for making and possessing hundreds of indecent images of children.
After being released from prison, part of his conditions meant Erickson-Hull had to sign the sex offenders’ register and was barred from travelling abroad without notifying the authorities.
He failed to meet either of these conditions before travelling to Bulgaria in 2017.
The Metropolitan Police has issued a European Arrest Warrant seeking his extradition back to the UK.
But in Bulgaria, Erickson-Hull’s breaches are not viewed as a crime because the country does not have a sex offenders’ register, and therefore are not sending him back to the UK.
He has been living in a deprived neighbourhood in the industrial city of Sliven, a place he has visited since 2015.
In a special broadcast, BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 have investigated allegations of sexual abuse by Erickson-Hill, thought to span more than half a decade.
One former volunteer, Texas native Dawn Gibbs, told the broadcaster she had walked in on him in bed with a group of boys in 2019.
She also said a group of children confided in her about being abused by Erickson-Hull, with his youngest alleged victim around 10 years old.
Ms Gibbs claimed she told the Metropolitan Police about his actions but did not receive a reply.
According to the BBC, the force can investigate child sex abuse committed by British offenders abroad through Section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act but no investigation has taken place.
Mr Afzal, who is former lead prosecutor for child abuse cases at the Crown Prosecution Service, told BBC Radio 4: “This is horrific industrial level sexual abuse.
“It would not surprise me if we’re talking about potentially hundreds of children abused by this suspect.”
The Metropolitan Police told the programme: “We would encourage anyone who has information about suspected offences in London to contact the Metropolitan Police.
“If offences reported to us are alleged to have taken place in a different country then we will share this with the relevant police force.
“We are not aware of any new Metropolitan Police investigations in this case.”
Mr Afzal said: “The police’s statement is a dereliction of duty when it comes to a British citizen whom we’ve already convicted, whom we’ve allowed to leave the country, who appears to be abusing children on a on a wholesale industrial scale in a very vulnerable community in Bulgaria.
“The police here have a duty to investigate this thoroughly.”
File on 4: The Paedophile Preacher will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on March 1 at 8pm.