‘I didn’t realise he was a perv,’ says blind businessman

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A blind man due to collect his MBE next month has apologised after “inadvertently” setting up a business with a convicted sex offender.

Neil Barnfather founded the prestigious-sounding One Eighth Foundation early last year to help disabled young people and adults all over the world.

He appointed former Tory councillor and nursery school governor Andrew Lamont as a fellow director.

But Mr Lamont, who is partially sighted, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence in a London court in 2012 for downloading more than 200 images of girls as young as eight.

He was also found guilty of possessing extreme pornography involving animals.

Said father-of-three Mr Barnfather: “I had no idea about this when we set up the business. I found out last September and was horrified.”

“I know it may sound strange that I didn’t know he was on the sex offenders’ register but how was I meant to find out about his past? I’m blind - how can I read the newspapers?”

Mr Barnfather said stress from “an incredibly messy divorce” prevented him from having time to remove Mr Lamont from the One Eighth Foundation, which is a Community Interest Company as well as a limited company.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds because the company is dormant. It’s never done anything because, due to the divorce, I’ve never had time to get it off the ground,” said 32-year-old Mr Barnfather, who remarried last month.

The founder of 15 business, two of which are currently active, he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list this June for services to telecoms industry and to visually impaired people.

“I was due to collect my MBE in October but because of all my problems I’ve delayed it until next year,” he said.