In January 2003, several UK newspapers reported that “two former Labour ministers” were on a list of 7,272 Operation Ore suspects that had been leaked to News International title the Sunday Times.
None of the papers named the two former ministers, but on 2nd February 2003, the News of the World (another News International title) reported that Peter Mandelson had been one of the names on the list, but the article went on to clear Mr Mandelson’s name – “There is no suggestion that the real Peter Mandelson is involved“.
It turned out that there had been a ‘mix up’ and the ‘Peter Mandelson’ on the Ore list wasn’t in fact the former Labour minister, but a student from West Wales (or maybe South Wales?), whose credit card had allegedly been stolen and then used by the thief to access the ‘Real Lolita’ website.
According to the News of the World’s Dominic Herbert, police discovered that the thief adopted the user name ‘Peter Mandelson’ during a “top-level secret inquiry”.
“And before moving in on him, cops had to carry out a top-level secret inquiry to make sure Mr Mandelson was not involved.”
The News of the World ran two versions of the story which appeared in different editions, one with Dominic Herbert’s byline and one with no byline:
Student ‘surfed for porn using Mandy’s name’
by Dominic Herbert
A WELSH student has been quizzed by cops for allegedly surfing child porn sites using the name of former Cabinet minister Peter Mandelson.
He has been targeted as part of the Operation Ore probe into more than 7,000 British users of a sick internet portal in America.
And before moving in on him, cops had to carry out a top-level secret inquiry to make sure Mr Mandelson was not involved.
Police working their way through a suspects list supplied by the FBI were stunned to find the former Trade Secretary’s name.
Several high-profile figures, including rock legend Pete Townshend, had already become embroiled in the investigation.
But police found that Mr Mandelson’s name had only been given when a site called Real Lolita was entered. There was a different name on the credit card used to access pictures of sex abuse involving children as young as six.
They raided the student’s home in west Wales and took away his computer for examination. So far nothing has been found.
There is no suggestion that the real Peter Mandelson is involved.
A police source said: “There was an immediate top level and very discreet inquiry carried out when Mr Mandelson’s name came up.
“This is the difficulty of this operation when people use false names.”
A relative of the student said: “There’s no way he did this. What I think has happened is that someone has stolen our credit card details and used them to get on to this site.”