A MAN has been charged with sexual grooming after he arranged to meet a 14-year-old girl.

Tony Lamport, aged 21 and of no fixed abode, was arrested outside the main entrance of Basingstoke hospital on Thursday.

Paedophile hunters, working under the banner of SKO – Safeguarding Kids Online, confronted Mr Lamport who had been talking to the girl since January 4.

The confrontation was live-streamed as Mr Lamport said the conversation was “a joke”, adding: “I wouldn’t have actually done anything.”

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In the video which has been widely shared on social media it was revealed that Mr Lamport had told the girl that he would take her into the woods, rape her and sexually assault her.

He also said that he has "messaged loads of girls, young girls and asked them to meet me but I've never actually met them."

The stream began at about 2pm on Thursday afternoon, and lasts for roughly 30 minutes.

A police spokesperson said that he was charged and remanded in custody. He will appear at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on Thursday.

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What is the law on paedophile hunters?

There are currently no laws against vigilante groups from forming and in recent years, a number of self-organised groups have formed to expose paedohpiles.

While there are no direct laws against the operation of vigilante groups, some techniques which could potentially be used during 'snares' could be crossing the legal line.

For example, the paedeophile hunters often confront the people they have caught. If these interactions cross the line, they could face the force of the law themselves. False imprisonment, kidnapping, battery, affray and assault are all criminal offences.

In June 2017, two men were charged with affray after they attacked a man while he was being confronted by “paedophile hunters”, Kent Online reported.

The dangers posed by vigilantes also extend beyond the actual confrontations.

Videos of such showdowns usually get thousands of views, likes and shares online and are often accompanied by a stream of heated comments.

Many fear publicly “outing” suspected paedophiles against this backdrop could expose suspects and their families to retaliation and encourage further amateur witch-hunts.

What does the court of law make of vigilante groups?

Self-described “paedophile hunters” welcomed a landmark court ruling earlier this year which allowed them to continue to pose as children online to catch sexual predators.

Legal teams acting for two men allegedly snared by Dark Justice claimed prosecutions using evidence gathered by such groups ‘diminished the integrity of the court process’.

But in a detailed judgement given at Newcastle Crown Court in April, Mr Justice Langstaff ruled there was no legal requirement for the activities of Dark Justice to be subject to controls, the Guardian reported .

Defence teams argued evidence gathered by Dark Justice should be governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which public bodies are bound by.

But Langstaff concluded the members of Dark Justice had “acted as private citizens throughout” and, as such, “authorisation of them by any public authority to act as a covert human intelligence source was and is not required by law”.