[Content Warning: The following report includes graphic details regarding crimes committed against children and animals]
On Friday morning, Bloody Elbow editor Zane Simon received a Twitter message with two article links. Clicking through, Simon found horrific news about his then-colleague Bloody Elbow contributor and podcast host Iain Kidd.
The articles from two local Scottish publications had been published on July 24th, 2018 and September 13th, 2018, but had gone unnoticed by wider MMA audiences for months. They stated that Kidd had been arrested for and convicted of downloading and possessing child pornography over the span of 13 years.
A Twitter user identifying themselves as Dusty Andrews (@Fight_Expert) sent Simon the links, along with an online profile that appeared to verify that the Iain Kidd mentioned in the articles was the same Iain Kidd who was under a freelance contract with Vox Media (owner of Bloody Elbow and SB Nation).
Andrews wrote on Twitter on Thursday that he discovered the links when he did a Google search on Kidd after the two engaged in a back-and-forth Twitter argument about MMA fighter Greg Hardy. Andrews linked one of the articles to Kidd publicly in the form of a Twitter reply, and shared them with another person on Twitter. The links quickly spread on Twitter, gaining momentum throughout Friday.
As soon as Simon received the links Friday morning, he evaluated the veracity of the outlets, the consistency of the reporting, and the general body of work for the journalist with the Evening Times byline.
Once it became clear to Simon that the reports appeared to be factual, he brought them to the attention of the Bloody Elbow editorial team through that team’s dedicated Slack channel.
Those first exchanges between Bloody Elbow’s editors are presented below in the form of screenshots. The images show the moments immediately after Simon shared links to the Evening Times and Planet Radio articles at 12:25 PM ET on December 7th (all the screenshots presented in this article have time stamps using US Central Time).
After Bloody Elbow founding editor Nate Wilcox (using the screen name ‘kidnate’) requested a formal email to forward to executives at Vox Media, Simon sent the following at 12:45 PM ET:
”It has been brought to my attention, via several publicly released reports that one of our writers, Iain Kidd, has apparently recently been arrested on charges of downloading and owning child pornography. There does not appear to be an easy way to verify these claims beyond the published articles, which do not appear to come from the best sources, but do appear to cover a consistent story over a number of months, or by confronting the writer directly about the veracity of the information within. At no time it seems has the writer in question publicly addressed these reports either to deny or admit to them. Nor has he done so privately with staff.”
After this, Simon and other members of the editorial team attempted to confirm more details that corroborated the fact that the Kidd mentioned in the articles and the Kidd who worked at Bloody Elbow were the same person. Meanwhile Vox Media reached out to Glasgow police in an attempt to verify Kidd’s identity.
When Bloody Elbow’s editorial staff shared their findings with Vox Media, they were swiftly granted their request to end Kidd’s contract with Bloody Elbow and remove him from the masthead, as well as from any associated platforms. The company also instructed the team to not respond publicly until there was full confirmation.
Around this time, Kidd deleted his social media accounts.
On Saturday afternoon, Bloody Elbow’s editorial team began giving personal statements about Kidd through their personal social media accounts. Prior to this other Bloody Elbow contributors, who had not received instruction from Vox Media regarding public disclosures, released their own statements regarding Kidd.
At 6:55 PM ET on Saturday, John Ness, director of team brands for Vox Media, released an official statement about Kidd on BloodyElbow.com.
On Friday, Bloody Elbow became aware of news reports linking one of our writers to criminal activities including possession of child pornography. As a result, Bloody Elbow and SB Nation terminated his contract that same day.
SB Nation and Bloody Elbow strongly condemn the types of activities reported and encourage our readers and listeners to visit Protect Children in Canada, Stop It Now in Scotland, and Darkness 2 Light in the United States for more information to support victims.
On Friday evening, Kidd sent private messages to his former Bloody Elbow contributor and podcast co-host, Stephie Haynes via Skype. She never responded. Kidd then messaged Haynes again early Sunday morning. The message seemed to further confirm his identity as the individual who had been convicted of possessing child pornography.
A screen shot of that message from Kidd is presented below:
Kidd’s message, which Haynes received at 4:10 AM ET on December 9th, reads:
Just wanted to reach out to clear a few things up. First, I never filmed anyone or anything underage, ever. I also never in any way touched anyone underage. Ever.
I didn’t tell you anything that was going on because I wanted you to be able to honestly say you had no idea about any of it and completely wash your hands of me.
Haynes never responded to Kidd’s message and has since blocked Kidd on Skype. When giving Bloody Elbow permission to publish her screenshot, Haynes gave the following statement:
“It is important to me that the image is included in our post because I, and several of my colleagues, have been accused of possibly having previous knowledge of Iain Kidd’s heinous activities. I absolutely did not have a clue of his criminal doings before this past Friday. I unequivocally condemn his actions. The real victims here are the children that were abused, and it is they that deserve our sympathy and compassion.”
Most of what we know comes from two published reports – ‘Business partners at Hillington face jail over indecent images’ from Planet Radio’s Clyde 1, and ‘Paedophiles Robert McDermitt, Iain Kidd and Fillip Hannisdal caught with indecent images of children’ from the Evening Times.
Information regarding Kidd’s crimes is sparse. The original articles sent to Simon, along with a third article published on Planet Radio titled ‘Pair spared jail for downloading indecent images of children’ are the only original sources Bloody Elbow discovered.
While the stories came to MMA fans’ attention in the last few days, according to reports, Kidd had been downloading and collecting indecent images of children since 2005. The authorities only became aware of his crimes in 2017, and he apparently wasn’t publicly named until July of this year. The published reports went unnoticed by those familiar with his work covering mixed martial arts.
Those articles outline that Kidd, 30, was arrested along with his business partner, Fillip Hannisdal, 31, in July. The arrest came after police were tipped off that pornographic pictures of children were being downloaded and distributed from the house Kidd and Hannisdal shared in Hillington, Scotland.
Hannisdal is a Norwegian national who began working with Kidd around 2010. Hannisdal and Kidd operate a company called Dragonbyte Technologies, which they incorporated in 2011.
The reports said a search warrant for Kidd and Hannisdal’s residence led to forensic computer searches that would reveal that both men owned hundreds of illegal pictures of children, as well as other pornographic images of extreme nature such as bestiality.
The Evening Times reported that some of the images discovered by police were classified as Category A. According to the UK’s Sexual Offense Guideline (Section Six: Indecent images of Children) Category A is the highest level of severity for indecent images of children. This category includes images that involve penetrative sexual activity or sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
According to the published reports, Kidd had almost 984 still images and 496 moving, and 7,689 pictures of extreme pornography. Hannisdal had 170 still pictures, 50 moving and 163 images, which the court heard depicted sexually activity involving people and animals. There was no indication of the number of victims involved.
In early September, Kidd and Hannisdal appeared together at the Glasgow Sheriff’s Court for sentencing. Kidd admitted to charges of downloading and possessing indecent images of children between July 2005 and June 2017, and a charge of possessing extreme pornographic images between April 2007 and August 2017. Hannisdal also admitted to committing the same three charges between September 2014 and August 2017.
According to the published reports, both Kidd and Hannisdal were given three-year community payback orders with the condition they will be supervised in the community and demonstrate good behavior.
In addition, Kidd and Hannisdal were also given a Restriction of Liberty Order, in which for six months they have to stay in their homes between 7:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
Kidd and Hannisdal were also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for three years and were prohibited from unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16. Both men have also had restrictions placed on their computing and internet browsing habits, which include them not being allowed to use Firefox or any browsers that do not retain user web history. They are also not allowed to install any software that can remove computer files and must provide their internet history instantly on request.
Kidd and Hannisdal were also ordered to seek treatment with the Moving Forward Making Changes program designed to address people with sexual offending behavior.
The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 states that the starting point for sentencing someone guilty of possession of indecent images of children is one year in custody and a range of 26 weeks to two years. Distribution of indecent images of children carries a recommended minimum sentence of three years in custody and a range of two to five years.
Kidd and Hannisdal’s sentences suggest their charges were reduced to lower categories before they were convicted.
Bloody Elbow has reached out to Glasgow’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for more information regarding Kidd’s arrest and sentencing, but have yet to receive a response.
Bloody Elbow’s founding editor Nate Wilcox said, “Bloody Elbow, SB Nation and Vox Media all unequivocally condemn the actions of Kidd, the exploitation of children and animals and deeply regret not having been aware of this situation sooner and are thankful that a reader informed us as soon as he made his discovery.”
Support for survivors and victims of child exploitation and sexual assault (and emergency hotlines) can be found with the following organizations:
Child Welfare Information Agency.
National Child Abuse Hotline, (1-800) 4-A-Child or (1-800) 422-4453
Runaway Helpline, 116 000 (call or text), [email protected]
The Survivors Trust, 0808 801 0818.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation
Kids Help Phone
Hotlines for reporting alleged child exploitation can be found below:
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, (1-800)_843-5678
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 0808 800 5000