Just imagine the life
shattering consequences of being innocent and accused of child porn
offences. Those responsible for such unfounded accusations are
destroying lives. They are proving themselves to be no better than the
criminals they are pursuing.
It has been talked about for a long time that a
payment to Landslide was to allow access to a many websites, Only some
of these contained child porn and in general subscribers paid the credit
card operation to access perfectly legal adult sites. It appears that
someone simply lied that these adult subscribers knew in advance about
the child porn sites that were also in the package. The devastation
caused by such lies is immeasurable as is that caused by the
prolonged refusal to accept the evidence by our own persecution service.
Shame on them all.
Dozens of men accused of downloading child pornography from the
internet may have been wrongly prosecuted, according to expert
prosecution and defence witnesses.
New evidence suggests that Operation Ore, Britain’s biggest child
pornography investigation, may have prosecuted innocent men on the basis
of discredited American police testimony and questionable forensic
Jim Bates, a computer expert who has served as a witness for the
prosecution or the defence in more than 100 child porn cases, says many
Ore cases are now likely to collapse or be overturned in the Court of
Appeal. It has been a shambles from the word go, he said.
The nationwide police investigation was launched three years ago after a
list of 7,200 British suspects was supplied to British police by
American authorities. The men on the list stand accused of having used
their credit cards to pay for child porn through Landslide, a sex
website that operated in Texas from 1996-9.
The accusations have led to 33 suicides, most recently that of Commodore
David White, the commander of British forces in Gibraltar. He was found
dead in his swimming pool on January 8.
Bates believes records of credit card transactions on the site are
unreliable and therefore the names of alleged subscribers cannot be used
Thomas Reedy, the man who set up the website, was investigated by the
FBI in the 1990s for credit card fraud. I am convinced that a massive
fraud has been perpetrated at Landslide and an unknown number of
subscriptions are fake, said Bates.
He cites the case of Dr Paul Grout, a senior accident specialist at Hull
Royal Infirmary, who was falsely accused of accessing child porn. Grout,
who was praised for his help at the 2001 Selby rail crash, lost his
£70,000-a-year job because of the allegations. Many of his friends
“drifted off” and he and his wife Susie endured huge strains on their
It was not until his case came to Hull crown court in April last year
that the Yorkshire doctor was able to prove his innocence. His lawyers
showed that, while Grout had used his credit card to pay for a meal in a
restaurant in Yorkshire, someone else had been using it 5,000 miles away
in Lake Tahoe, America.
In a case that legal experts believe may prove a landmark judgment,
Judge David Bentley threw out the prosecution argument. In his judgment,
Bentley dismissed some police evidence as “utter nonsense”. He said the
way the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had held back some information
vital to Grout’s defence had “stunk of unfairness”.
Another computer user wrongly accused of downloading child pornography
was Robert Del Naja, frontman of the group Massive Attack. His arrest in
February 2003 was leaked to the media but the case against him was
dropped less than a month later.
One police officer, Peter Johnston, became so disillusioned at what he
described as the Ore “witch-hunt” that he resigned from his job with
In a letter to The Sunday Times, Johnston said:
I began to doubt the
validity of the evidence surrounding the circumstances of the initial
investigation in America . . . I found it difficult to rationalise how
offenders had been identified solely on a credit card number.
Bates believes that evidence, highlighted by Duncan Campbell, an
investigative journalist and an expert witness in some Ore cases, could
lead to many cases being dropped.
In an article in last week’s Sunday Times, Campbell revealed that sworn
statements provided in British courts by two American detectives who
initiated Operation Ore could no longer be relied upon.
The two, Dallas detective Steve Nelson and US postal inspector Michael
Mead, had claimed that everyone who went to Landslide always did so
through a front-page screen button saying “Click Here (for) Child Porn”.
But Campbell has established that the button was never on the website’s
front page. Instead it was on an advertisement for another website
buried deep in the Landslide website.
That discovery has effectively removed a key plank of many of the Ore
prosecutions where no actual child porn was found. Those prosecutions
were based on the assertion that evidence that someone had paid to
access Landslide automatically meant that they had paid to access child
Steve Barker, a solicitor who acts for one Operation Ore suspect in a
High Court appeal, said that in many prosecutions police were unable to
disprove defendants had simply accessed legal adult porn rather than
paedophile material. In other cases, child porn might have been accessed
accidentally by those looking for adult porn.
The CPS has also disclosed that an internal inquiry has raised serious
questions over the evidence provided by Brian Underhill, a key police
witness in some 600 Ore cases. The CPS said it would now disclose the
doubts raised by its inquiry to defence solicitors before future trials
The CPS last week defended its role in the hundreds of successful cases
in which defendants had pleaded guilty. A spokeswoman said:
was considered on its own merits and the evidence provided by police has
been subject to thorough scrutiny.