PC Pro reveals false claims of child porn investigation

June 23, 2005

The UK’s biggest ever crackdown on Internet paedophiles has been driven by misleading intelligence, causing dozens of innocent people to be falsely accused, according to PC Pro magazine. Writing exclusively in the new August issue, Duncan Campbell (an expert witness in the defence of Operation Ore suspects) says prosecutions against many of the UK’s 7,272 Operation Ore suspects were based on flawed evidence received from US officials.The high-profile investigation began in 2002 when US investigators handed UK police the credit card details of people they claimed had subscribed to child porn. But Campbell says the list also included people who subscribed to legal sites, leading to prosecutions against computer users who had never possessed an offending picture.’The most critical computer evidence produced in Operation Ore, I have found, was flawed,’ says Campbell. ‘The mistakes meant huge quantities of police, technical and social work resources were misdirected to some futile and ill-founded investigations. But the worse result was damage to innocent lives, and the welfare of families and children.’Some prosecutions have centred on what’s been claimed in court to be the front page of an adult website which prosecutors said was dominated by a direct link to child pornography.But new evidence revealed in PC Pro shows that many subscribers could not have seen the page, while US investigators had only seen the link to the child pornography on one occasion.The report also criticises the media witch-hunt that’s increased the pressure on UK police to get results against huge numbers of British computer users.’Until now, Operation Ore has been widely publicised as an indisputable breakthrough in the fight against child porn, but the computer evidence has been misused,’ says Paul Trotter, news and features editor of PC Pro.’Computer forensics shows that the illegal websites could not be reached from the front page of the legal websites many people subscribed to, and this puts question marks over a number of prosecutions.’PC Pro’s exclusive investigation is included in the August issue (#130) of PC Pro, available in stores from Thursday 23 June.

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