Remember Operation Ore? When the UK police were given a list of 7,000 Evil Internet Paedos, arrested and charged them, leaked their names to the papers, and claimed that every last one of them was an evil nonce who shouldn’t be allowed near children?
Well, it turns out that many of the people on the list were innocent (longer version of the same article here in PDF format). Perhaps even most of them: the police made no attempts to check for credit card fraud, which is estimated to account for 50% of total cards used. They also cheerfully lied in court that everyone who got caught up in the scandal had deliberately clicked a link saying “click here for child porn”, when in fact there was no such link.
39 people caught up in the investigation in the UK alone have since committed suicide.
You’d've thought that this might create some kind of outrage – campaign groups, media storms, etc. In fact, aside from Duncan Campbell’s dedicated pursuit in PC Pro and the Guardian, and a few follow-on stories in the specialist IT press, there has been no media coverage at all of the fact that the police systematically lied to ruin the lives of thousands of innocent people.
Why not? I think this exchange from the first series of Blackadder might sum it up:
Officer: Who will defend the accused… [Percy stands] …and thus condemn himself to certain burning at the stake as a partner in Satan if the accused is found guilty? [Percy sits, acting quite interested in his book and quill]
Baldrick: Lord Percy will defend His Royal Highness [motions at Percy to stand]
Percy: Oh, yes, yes, me, sorry, yes… Hello…
Witchsmeller: [arriving, carrying a Bible] Witch! [The crowd gasps] Witchsmeller: Witch!! [The crowd gasps] Witchsmeller: [now in front of Percy] WITCH!!! [The crowd cheers]
Witchsmeller: [to Harry] My Lord, will you force us to listen to the pleadings of a man who may be a witch himself? [The crowd gasps]
Harry: You know, you’re absolutely right. Yes, well, that concludes the case for the defence.
In the face of that kind of public attitude, congratulations to Mr Campbell – and to Alex at the Yorkshire Ranter for making some further good points. And if you run a blog yourself – or a newspaper, or anything, then for God’s sake tell people about this terrible, terrible miscarriage of justice.
As a side note, Dr Melissa Deary is certainly a witch. What kind of fucking criminologist thinks that people should be presumed guilty until proven innocent? -
“Let’s get some perspective on what we’re dealing with here, a rising and extremely pernicious crime against children. If the police contact people whose credit card details appeared on Landslide’s list, then let them prove these details were stolen if that is indeed the case. Such “inconvenience” is worth it to clamp down on this horrific crime.” – Dr Melissa Dearey, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Hull
(it’s also worth side noting, while on the subject of Dr Dearey’s utter ignorance, that none of the alleged crimes prosecuted in the UK under Operation Ore involved the abuse of a child, and indeed that there is no evidence whatsoever that child sexual abuse is on the rise.)