Archive

Operation Ore

News of the World, 28th December 2003

CYBER-COPS hunting sex perverts who surf the internet for kiddie porn face being closed down because of a cash crisis.Officers from the National Crime Squad have created fake websites to trap paedophiles looking for vile child abuse pictures.

But the scheme could collapse if the government does not come up with the £10 million needed to fund it for the next three years.

Launched a week ago as part of Operation Pin, the NCS’s ground-breaking Virtual

Global Task Force targets online perverts using the bogus websites.

Instead of fuelling their sick fantasies, the perverts’ details are logged, so they can be traced. The initiative is being supported by the FBI, Australian Federal Police, Canadian Police and Interpol.

But a National Crime Squad source revealed last night: “This scheme was set up without any additional funding.

“We need around £10 million to keep it running for three years. If we don’t get it we’re in serious trouble.

“At the moment this scheme is operating on goodwill -everybody is working above and beyond what is required because we are committed to rescuing children.

“But we are pulled in so many directions it is incredibly difficult to juggle without more cash from the Government.”

Police gathered details of 7,200 internet perverts during Operation Ore, but cops hope this new scheme will flush out repeat offenders and those who have not been identified.

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble from the National Crime Squad, who headed up Operation Ore in the UK, said: “We’ve created cyber cops who walk the beat online, tracking down everyone looking at child porn.

“There’s no excuse for anyone entering these sites. It creates demand for the material -and every image means a child is being abused.”

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News of the World, 24th August 2003

BRITAIN’S top paedophile-busting police squad is to be broken up in a devastating secret reshuffle.

The shock move, uncovered by the News of the World, last night sparked outrage among worried child protection experts, politicians and top Home Office advisers.

Amazingly it comes in the week when the need for top-quality policing was dramatically highlighted by the dropping of a child porn case against Soham cop Brian Stevens, pictured right, after a series of Operation Ore investigation blunders.

All nine crack detectives in Scotland Yard’s elite paedophile unit-featured in award-winning BBC TV series The Hunt For Britain’s Paedophiles-have been told they will be moved to other duties by the end of the year.

This is despite having over 50 years’ vital experience in the squad between them AND a string of successes-including the high-profile Operation Doorknock raid on pervert Keith Romig’s east London house in 2000, led by Det Con Andy Murray, that led to the smashing of a vile abuse ring.

Operation Ore-processing thousands of leads from US internet porn sites-relies on the team’s long-term knowledge of faces and names to identify those posing the greatest threat.

Nevertheless the unit’s head, Det Chief Inspector Matt Sarti, called his men in last month and told them their posts would in future be filled on a three-year rota basis.

But after we blew the whistle Home Secretary David Blunkett was last night said to be “concerned” at the plan and vowed to raise it with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens. And Alisdair Gillespie, one of Mr Blunkett’s advisers on child protection, declared: “I know the Yard unit very well-they are the best of the best. The decision to break them up is absolutely ludicrous.”

Professor Gillespie, who is also a principal lecturer in law at Teesside University, added: “It takes a great deal of experience and skill to trap these paedophiles and ensure a conviction.

“These officers are so dedicated some are even doing masters degrees in the subject. It’s outrageous to allow them only a few years in the job-they’re taking away all the expertise in one go. And it will have an impact nationally because other forces look to them for advice. This link is essential to protect our children.”

One senior member of the Yard squad agreed: “Children are being put at risk by these changes. We can’t understand why it’s happening-they don’t rotate people in the Flying Squad.”

Tory MP Sir Paul Beresford-a leading activist on paedophile issues-slammed the Yard decision. “I’ll be raising this with the unit’s head and the minister involved,” he pledged.

“This job takes expertise that can’t be acquired in a few weeks.”

Last night retired Det Superintendent Mike Hames, the squad’s boss for five years, also called on the Met to change its mind.

“If you get rid of the best people in one go, everyone else will be floundering around,” he said.

And former Det Chief Inspector Bob McLachlan, who headed the unit from 1998 until retiring last year, insisted: “This is a scandal. Any change in the current set-up will put policing predatory paedophiles back 10 years.”

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:

Story 1

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.”

Story 2

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News of the World, 12th January 2003

COPS have swooped on a suspected paedophile ring at Edinburgh’s Napier University.

They launched an immediate probe after a lecturer was targeted during Operation Ore.

When detectives seized his computer, they found he was circulating images to colleagues.

Disturbingly, the ring is believed to extend to other universities but, as yet, no charges have been brought against any of the staff.