Breach of justice as a Suicide Trigger
Please note that I am using justice in the sense of police investigation plus caught hearings.
Betrayal of trust can also be seen as being your own worst enemy, by misplacing your trust. Be streetwise!
Massive miscarriage of justice
By Louise Shorter, from insidetime issue November 2010
Legal action set to take place in the Court of Appeal in London could pave the way for hundreds of child pornography convictions, secured during Operation Ore, to be overturned in what is being described by campaigners as a massive miscarriage of justice.
Operation Ore, the codename for the police investigation which began in 2002, was launched after information supplied by US law enforcement agencies purported to show that more than 7,000 UK men used their credit cards to access online child pornography sites. It netted high profile figures such as The Who guitarist Pete Townshend and fed the nation’s fear that paedophilia is endemic throughout modern cyber-savvy society.
But the police operation which ran for more than five years is steeped in controversy, with critics claiming the computer database of users’ names and credit card details was riddled with fraud. Defence experts say the fraud being perpetuated was simple and effective: owners of websites including legal adult pornography re-used credit card details supplied to them to sign up for their illegal services, child pornography. Chris Saltrese, the solicitor representing Anthony O’Shea whose case will be heard at the Appeal Court this month, says: “there are hundreds of people who’ve been convicted of one of the worst crimes imaginable. Lives and families have been destroyed. But the evidence now shows that many of those convicted weren’t paedophiles at all. They were victims of straightforward online credit card fraud.”
Anthony O’Shea’s house was one of more than 4,000 homes raided during the police operation which ultimately led to 2,000 convictions and 140 children being removed from their homes. Though no illegal paedophile material was found on Mr O’Shea’s computer, his credit card had been used attempting to pay for access to sites. In 2005 he was convicted, sentenced to 5 months in jail and placed on the sex offender register for 7 years. His life, he says, and that of his wife, children, sibling and parents have all been destroyed.
Throughout all of the original trials, defence teams were denied access to the full computer database which provided the list of credit card details on which the Ore prosecutions were brought. Taking more than 5 years to secure sight of the database, a defence expert who has examined it now claims “indicators of fraud are present in abundance.” Those indicators include evidence that subscribers paid to access these illegal sites but then failed to view the material paid for, and that credit cards were used to pay for multiple subscriptions even though only one was required.
Last month, in a separate case, a London based businessman, Chris Singam, was awarded $180,000 damages after charges of downloading child pornography were thrown out two weeks before the case was due to be heard in court. Having lost his business, been threatened and ostracised, Mr Singam was eventually told the computer evidence the CPS relied on was “flawed”; his computer had been infected with a virus.
To date, 39 men caught up in Operation Ore are said to have committed suicide.
Louise Shorter was the Producer/Director of the BBC’s long running miscarriage of justice series Rough Justice for 10 years. She now runs a small investigative unit called Inside Justice for Inside Time and aims to secure publicity in the wider media for prisoners who claim they have been wrongly convicted. Submissions to this unit should, where possible, be sent via your solicitor to Louise Shorter at Inside Time.
Comments about this article
11/11/2010 Michael – email@example.com
Operation Ore lead to Operation Auxin in Australia using the same ‘evidence’ under exactly the same sensational media attention and 6 accused committed suicide with 2 weeks of being charged.
Politicians and senior police blatantly breached accused persons rights in media interviews and anecdotal evidence is that many of the accused pleaded guilty after detectives incorrectly told them that no prison sentence would be involved.
Remembering that the great majority of those accused were people who had never encountered the law before and took police advice at face value.
I know one person who not only lost their career but home due to legal costs as lawyers deliberately delayed and delayed trials to put as much distance between the orginal media reports and final court date, he says he was astonished to see the then state Premier and the most senior policeman lie on TV and state that all accused had been offered psychiatric assistance when he says the complete opposite happened. His arresting officers not only refused him his normal depression and anxiety medicine, they continually joked about suicide to him.
The outcome of this appeal will be interesting. It was always my belief that Ore would come crashing down at some stage.
25/11/2010 Steven Battram
So the men who download child porn are now expert credit card fraudsters, and most of the men Operatiion Ore uncovered are victims of fraud and not sex offenders.
Did these fraudsters use the credit card details for exotic holidays or any other fraudulant uses, like buying expensive consmer goods.
No doubt there was fraudulant uses, but the majority of the offenders Operation Ore uncovered? I find that hard to believe on the evidence at present.
29/11/2010 Geoff White – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.gwhite.info
Just to update on this – Mr O’Shea’s appeal was heard on 11/12 November – their Lordships reserved judgement, which is expected in the New Year. Having attended the hearing I’m doubtful that he will win his appeal, but you never know.
I produced a report for ITV’s News at Ten which contained some new evidence on this – there’s a link on the ITV News website.
Also, a word of caution on the suicide numbers – in Dec 2004 ACPO confirmed 32 deaths – I’ve tried to verify a figure for the number of subsequent suicides but not managed it – if anyone can point me in the direction of a reliable figure I’d be much obliged.