Fatal flaws in Operation Ore - the full story
Two years ago, PC Pro revealed how thousands of Britons were falsely branded paedophiles. Now Duncan Campbell finds they were really victims of crime themselves
In 2005, PC Pro revealed how computer evidence used against 7,272 people in the UK accused of being paedophiles had been founded on falsehoods. The misleading evidence, which claimed that every user of a Texas porn portal had to click on a banner advertising child porn to access illegal websites, was withdrawn last summer.
'It's specifically not alleged that [the accused] would have... seen a banner saying "Click Here Child Porn",' a British court was told.
The climb-down came too late for many: between then and now, the death toll of those who have killed themselves under pressure of the investigations in 'Operation Ore' has risen from 33 to 39.
Hundreds of police raids across Britain found no evidence that many suspects possessed, or were even interested in, child pornography. Because of the huge volume of computers and disks seized for examination, police high-tech crime capabilities were reportedly crippled for years.
Now, PC Pro can exclusively reveal that not only did police evidence in Operation Ore pretend users had asked for 'child porn', but that many of the Britons who have been publicly branded dangerous paedophiles were merely victims of systematic credit card fraud - some of it run by a Mafia crime family - and had never subscribed to the websites.