Former Redbridge Council staffer charged with child sexual exploitation crimes in Australia
- Credit: Ken Mears
A former employee in the Redbridge Council leader's office, who moved back to Australia to work for a Labor MP, has been charged with child sexual exploitation crimes in Adelaide.
Ben Waters, 38, was arrested on Tuesday, March 30 by Australian Federal Police and South Australia Police and subsequently charged with four counts of possessing child exploitation material, two of which were aggravated charges.
He was also charged with one count of using a carriage service to produce child abuse material.
Mr Waters worked in Redbridge Council from March 2016 to May 2019, including as policy assistant in council leader Jas Athwal's office.
Since then, after moving back to Australia, he served as an adviser to Hurtle Vale MP Nat Cook.
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He was sacked from that job after he was arrested in a joint South Australian and federal police investigation into child abuse.
A spokesperson for Redbridge Council said: “The council is aware of the police charges in Australia against Ben Waters.
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"Mr Waters was a council employee between 2016 and 2019 therefore, we have notified our local authority designated officer who will liaise with the police on behalf of the council.
"We are shocked by the news of these charges and, of course, stand ready to cooperate fully with any investigation. It would not be appropriate to comment further during live legal proceedings.”
In a LinkedIn profile with Mr Waters' name and picture, he is also listed as working as a campaigner in the Ilford North election from February to March 2015.
A 37-year-old man from Port Lincoln was also arrested and charged with five counts of child abuse-related offences.
In a statement, MP Nat Cook said she was "shocked" to learn of the charges against her former staffer.
“As soon as I was made aware of the charges, I took immediate action and advised the Department of Treasury and Finance and requested that his employment be immediately terminated and that all access to buildings and IT be blocked,” she said.
“I also advised the Labor party who I understand held an emergency state executive meeting this morning and expelled this person as a member.”