GLOUCESTERSHIRE County Council was aware of historic sex offences against children by Keith Harding but had “no power” to stop him running a museum in Northleach.

Mr Harding, who died from bowel cancer in June this year, was convicted of indecent assault against four children aged eight and nine in the late 1950s and was a 'schedule 1' offender, meaning his convictions remained on his police file for life.

He moved to Northleach with his wife and family in 1987 and opened Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music.

Vicki Butler, deputy director for safeguarding and care at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "Mr Harding’s past offences happened outside the county more than 50 years ago and we have no power to regulate or prevent a private business being set up.

"When he became known to us in the 90s, together with the police and other partners, we carried out an investigation and took appropriate action at the time.”

According to the BBC, Mr Harding was part of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) and knew Jimmy Saville.

Vicki Butler said: “In April this year it was brought to our attention that Mr Harding was historically involved with the PIE group and we worked with the police to establish the current situation.

“By this time the museum was closed and Mr Harding was seriously ill and has since died."

If a similar case were to arise, the council said it would be able to work with partner agencies to assess the risk and consider what action to take.

Born in Nottinghamshire, Mr Harding was educated at Oakley Hall in Cirencester.