back to article Operation Ore was based on flawed evidence from the start

Britain’s biggest ever computer crime investigation, Operation Ore, was flawed by a catalogue of “discrepancies, errors and uncertainties”, disclosed reports of two national police conferences seen by The Register reveal. The police memoranda show that within months of the operation launching in April 2002, detectives who …

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  2. doperative
    Boffin

    flawed evidence ?

    The flawed evidence relying on Credit Card receipts that the perps could claim were stolen over the Internet. What they should have done was tag the images with digital signatures and use the presence of such images on the perps hard-drive in evidence ..

    1. The Original Ash
      FAIL

      Fail troll fails

      Anybody with the most basic knowledge of browsers knows that, firstly, they cache pages for fast loading. This is a feature from the dark days of 28.8kbps modems where pages with pictures took upwards of 30 seconds to load. Caching made sure that the page was available quickly next time.

      Secondly, anybody with the most basic knowledge of browsers knows that they load the whole page requested, and there's no way of knowing the content of that page until it is requested. The top of the page could be My Little Pony Play Ground Adventure Ride for 3 - 5 year olds flash game, the lower portion (which you wouldn't scroll down to if you only wanted to play the game) could be all manner of horrific content. This goes without saying that scripts, single-pixel forced size images, pop ups, pop unders, frames, cross sight scripting, flash, blaa blaa blaa which can load images into your web cache without you noticing.

      The mere presence of images in itself is not an indication of meaningful perusal of such content any more than walking by a TV in a shop window showing a car chase is an indication that you are a car thief.

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    3. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Sigh

      i can't imagine why the police are treated with suspicion and fear these days as opposed to being respected like when I were a lad?

      1. Zippy the Pinhead
        Thumb Up

        @ sigh

        Wait let me fix your statement

        <sarcasm on>

        i can't imagine why the police are treated with suspicion and fear these days as opposed to being respected like when I were a lad?

        </sarcasm off>

        There fixed it!

  3. Peladon

    Think of the....

    Think of the children.

    Think of the children who may never believe a parent was not in fact a paedophile, however much that parent may continue to protest their innocence.

    Think of the children who may have been given a good kicking by their dear friends in the playground for being from one of 'those' families.

    Think of the children (I have no evidence or data, I admit) whose parents may have been unable to continue their relationship because one of them was 'a paedophile'.

    Think of the children who may have been taken into care.

    Think of the children who suffered because a !@#@!$ great big rock was pushed down a hill for reasons that seemed good to those who pushed it, but were unlikely to be mowed down in its path.

    Think of the children - and ask what should happen to a system that appears to have comprehensively condonded and concealed flaws of evidence and process and the contrary opinions of those inside that system.

    Think of the children - and then ask your local Chief Constable, your local Member of Parliament, your local 'bloke down the pub' whether it was worth it.

    And when they tell you it was, because no matter how many were improperly pursued, there was a good chance one or two actually guilty of the activities in question were caught, think of yourself. Ask yourself if you agree - but before you answer -

    Think of the children.

    1. Keith T

      In north amercia one profession is frequently at the forfront of family abuse statistics

      I don't know about the UK, but in North America one profession is frequently at the forfront of family abuse statistics.

      Just usually the don't abuse them while on the job, being paid by taxpayers, and with the aid of crown prosecutors and opportunistic politicians and district attorneys.

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Well given the US disgust

      with the way UK plod clodhopped all over their carefully gathered evidence, and their subsequent decision to be very careful as to what they share with the UK, it's inevitable that some guilty will go unpunished.

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      2. The Original Ash

        Re: Well given the US disgust

        Indeed. It's also inevitable that some of the innocent will have their names dragged through the mud, lives ruined beyond repair. Once happy homes will be broken, intelligent and employable people will become workplace kryptonite.

        The innocent suffer, either way.

      3. Rob Crawford

        <sigh> Grow up and learn to read Mr Anon coward

        Considering the flawed evidence (actually lies) from the US investigator who faked the portal page.

        No doubt the perfection of the US legal system prevented any innocents from being targeted?

        Lets face it in the US anybody who is NOT rich & white who pleads non guilty is completely fucked.

        Due to the plea bargain culture many US citizens believe that anybody brought before the courts must be guilty, after all (who would plea bargain if they where innocent and) the conviction rates say so. The prevalent view really is you are blamed for wasting the courts time if you plead not guilty and will be punished to the maximum extent.

        At one point due to the number of UK citizens who accepted cautions (/me waves Pete Townsend) the operation was considered a great success at the time.

        Considering the number of people in the UK who accepted cautions (without realising (or it being fully explained) that they where essentially pleading guilty) because their credit card details where found on a porn gateway (which (ironically) was only created to comply with US legislation)

      4. unitron
        FAIL

        Carefully gathered?

        From the description of the actions of that Dallas detective, it sounds more like carefully fabricated evidence.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Why the downvotes ?

        I was just trying to say that it's pretty certain that as a result of the mishandling of OO, there will have been people who should have been charged that weren't. Why is that so bad ?

    2. The Original Ash
      Thumb Down

      @Gordon 10

      "The worry that real Paedo's now have grounds for appeal, release and compensation."

      Pray tell, how do you know which are the ones who are guilty yet acquitted, and the ones who are actually innocent? By definition, acquittal is innocence of wrongdoing through lack of evidence.

      I'm under no illusion that the system is perfect, and has no hope of successfully prosecuting 100% of criminals, but It certainly scares me far more that there's the potential for innocent people to be prosecuted than a scarce few may be released mistakenly, and I'm not specifically referring to any type of crime here. To think any other way begs for all people to be tagged monitored, and imprisoned "just in case", and that's a police state.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Disagree

        Regardless of whether it's too many innocents getting punished or too many guilty (in fact, not necessarily in law) going unpunished both are signs of the justice system not working properly.

      2. Keith T

        The real child abusers were never in the dock

        The real child abusers were never in the dock.

  6. Cameron Colley

    How many children were saved?

    The thing that seems to be missing from all the reports I see about this is how many children were taken from abusive situations, and how many people were jailed for abusing them. Did this exercise in police arrogance and abuse actually help anyone anywhere?

    One thing I do know for certain is that I shall never help the police in their enquiries -- because it is evident, from this and the various abuses carried out under the guise of "anti-terrorism", that they are no longer interested in upholding the law or protecting anyone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why You Shouldn't Talk To The Police.

      "One thing I do know for certain is that I shall never help the police in their enquiries -- because it is evident, from this and the various abuses carried out under the guise of "anti-terrorism", that they are no longer interested in upholding the law or protecting anyone."

      Here is a really interesting talk on this subject.

      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=97484157416073610#

      1. The Original Ash
        Unhappy

        A quick look at your name...

        ... is all the information needed; Your video is Norfolk 'n' Goode. The very first six words of the first image in the video are "In Praise of **THE FIFTH AMENDMENT**..."

        This is the UK. We have no ratified Constitution, and we have no Amendments to it. Our officers do not state at arrest that evidence can and will be used *against* you in a court of law. They say "If may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything say do may be given in evidence."

        This is not America. The advice is not pertinent here. If you are put in a situation where you are formally questioned by police, ask for a court appointed legal representative and do not answer any questions except to confirm your identity. If you're asked further questions, reply (if applicable) "I'm very sorry, but I've not been in this situation before. I don't feel comfortable answering questions without first speaking to a solicitor.'

        TL;DR: That video's useless to Brits.

        1. Cameron Colley

          @The Original Ash

          I wouldn't say the video is useless to us Brits. The ideas involved should make one think about giving evidence to the police and how/when/whether to answer their questions. As legal advice, you're right, it's useless -- but as something to bear in mind it's a good explanation of why saying anything can get you into trouble. In fact, tack on your advice to make it country specific and it's worth a watch.

          1. Jane Fae

            Up to a point

            The problem with the US advice is that it is only half right for the UK. Yes: it is absolutely true that talking too much to the police in the early stages of questioning could well damage any form of defence you try to run at a later date. So the obvious advice is NOT to talk to them.

            Unfortunately, not talking may also damage your defence at a later date. That is because if you have an innocent explanation for your actions and that explanation is not forthcoming until long after you had a chance to give it, there is a good chance that a smart prosecutor will argue that it was concocted between you and your Defence Counsel after the event.

            <sigh>

            Damned if you do: damned if you don't.

            Also complicating is that for some offences, the duty sol will be well out of their depth, and advise individuals to plead one way or another without really understanding the depth of the law they are dealing with. I'd guess the best possible way forward is to say something along the lines of above, stating you'll answer questions fully as soon as a sol arrives - and then use your phone call NOT to get someone from the local roster, but to phone a friend and to ask them to find a dedicated lawyer (i.e., an expert in the law you are deemed to have breached) to turn out.

            jane

        2. LittleTyke

          Video

          Still great fun, though.

  7. Demosthenese

    perjury?

    No longer a crime for the police and associated agencies.

    The prime characteristic of a police state is that the police are not themselves subject to the rule of law.

    1. Sam Liddicott

      An individual officer

      Often an individual officer does not need to perjure himself when the system of officers can perjure itself. No human can be found to have lied, but the false information can still make it to the jury.

      1. Keith T

        With all the signing and testimony

        Someone has to certify the evidence and others had to sign to maintain the chain of custody.

        There will have been lots of individual perjury and obstruction of justice, and lots of evidence of it in paper work and court transcripts.

        It doesn't matter. Criminal law on perjury doesn't apply to police or crown witnesses due to established custom, and while that is not in writing anywhere, newspapers in common law countries are full of the precedents.

        Remember that if you are called to serve as a juror.

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  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trauma Consultant...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/yorkslincs/series6/computer_doctor.shtml

    The trauma consultant appears to have been particularly badly treated. The above link dates back to 2004, but has an interview with him. Well worth a read.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...another website to view...

      http://ore-exposed.obu-investigators.com/The_Grout_Case.html

      I have no idea of how accurate this website's information is, but it's certainly something to consider alongside the previous BBC page...

      The consultant appears to have been totally obstructed by the Humberside Police whilst trying to defend himself...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stolen credit cards?

    You will get you arrested, and your computer seized if:

    * Someone uses your stolen credit card details to access child porn

    * A hacked website contains hidden/embedded link to child porn

    * Spam sent to you contain child porn

    * Someone hacking into your computing and access child porn

    * Some file sharing software can access child porn on behalf of someone else.

    * Someone just makes malicious allegations against you

    * An underage kid texts/emails you explicit images by mistake

    * You have revealing baby photos (you abuse yourself by just looking at them!)

    Lock-up the pedophiles, but don't try to incriminate the innocent just to make law enforcement look good. They seem to be doing the complete opposite.

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  12. laird cummings
    Coat

    Python-esque

    I suddenly learn that Monty Python is a documentary, not comedy...

    Right, I'm on my way - no need to shove!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thanks to Duncan Campbell and The Reg...

    ...for continuing to cover the Ore scandal. This is such a huge travesty of justice that surely one day justice will finally be done and those in the Police force who so wilfully perverted the course of justice will eventually be held to account, made to explain their actions?

    In the meantime,The Register remains one of the few brave media outlets prepared to openly revisit and question this worrying story time and again in the interests of truth. Thanks for having the balls to stand up and do your jobs as journalists when so many of your colleagues in the national media refuse, or fall short of their duties to their readers.

    1. Alan Firminger

      No

      Sometimes justice gets done but the coppers involved get promoted.

  14. Rippy
    WTF?

    Vigorous moderation

    25% of posts "deleted by moderator"?

    Is this one frothing commentard or a real hot-button issue?

    G.

    1. lIsRT

      abc and/or 123

      Probably "for legal reasons".

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Interesting

        That mine was posted long enough to get a reply then deleted. They must have reviewed it twice.

  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Meanwhile...

    ... the real victims of Operation Ore, ie the innocent people who were coerced into accepting Cautions (effectively admitting guilt for something they didn't do) are still suffering the shame and damage to their reputations that this witch hunt has caused.

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  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    interesting

    *lots* of deleteds. Rude, unsupportive or just grossly offensive.

    I agree that *had* this investigation been properly run tagged images with embedded (steganographic?) identifiers would have been found on the PCs of *real* culprits.

    But then a *proper* investigation would have picked up the *faked* home page "proving" all subscribers must have known they were getting CP.

    However that might not have played so well in the media as "15 people in UK buy *lots* of CP with hundreds of stolen credit card details"

    Not forgetting the ever calm tones of CEOP predicting Paedogeddon on the streets of the UK.

    BTW Is this The Duncan Cambell? I thought he'd retired years ago.

  18. Eeep !
    Grenade

    Just make wrong doers apologise publicly(?)

    Surely it would be OK if everybody responsible for the injustice apologised publicly on prime time TV - every police officer involved in the case (not a particular individual, their collegues for going along with it, everyone, possibly every officer if necessary) - and their management (who obviously would be involved because of poor management practices) - and ministers with any relevance ("any" in the broadest possible sense) and the Prime Minister(s) (at the time and all during dodginess because these sort of cases go on for a long time)

    And I mean that the TV advert time be paid for by those featured apologising, not the tax payer who had already paid for the apologisers to commit the injustice.

    1. Josh 15

      As long as you include

      ...all the racketeers from the 'child protection' industry who were so quick to tailgate the Ore sensation and attempt to make capital out of it for their own agendas.

      I recall the two very wel-known choldren's charities seemed especially vocal on the issue at the time and both did their bit to stake their claim and mark out out their territory - which must have paid off nicely as Ore rolled out and the £multimillion CEOP, as a direct result of the subsequent hysteria, was created - which then handily 'partnered' with such organisations.

      Every moral panic needs it's useful idiots. Ore seemed to have no shortage of them.

    2. Fatman
      FAIL

      RE: ..apologised publicly on prime time TV - every police officer involved ...

      NOT GOOD ENOUGH SIR!!

      I, for one feel that these slimy bastards ought to be thrown into the most vile dungeon, and WELD THE DOORS SHUT!!!

      They should NEVER see the light of day again for the remainder of their miserable lives.

      They should be fed urine and excrement.

      FAIL, because that is what the justice system has done to many of those charged.

  19. Eugene Goodrich

    Misquoting by the Met?

    "Better twenty innocent men be jailed than one pedophile go free."

  20. rob_m

    Very upsetting

    We trust these people, and I feel they have betrayed my trust.

    They got it wrong in so many ways, and even more worryingly, it appears there was a complete and total absence of checks and balances in the system.

    I wonder what the overall compensation required will amount to, due to these systemic problems. This is public money, that could, and should, be put to better use.

    When you consider the penalties for tax fraud, which is essentially depriving the state from funds, I can see how a different approach here has resulted in a similar position; I would argue the people responsible should be jailed, under a similar regime.

  21. Keith T

    Members of any other profession ...

    It seems likely to me that members of any profession or trade other than policing would have been charged with perjury, obstruction of justice, perverting the course of justice, filing false police statements, etc., etc.

    It seems to me, and I might be wrong, these aren't honest mistakes to be handled through civil law suits, but alleged potential crimes committed by individuals who happen to be police.

    If our criminal justice system is good enough for citizens, it should be good enough for those citizens working within it.

  22. Keith T

    In what way are cops preying on powerless defenceless victims

    In what way are cops preying on powerless defenseless victims any better then pedophiles preying on powerless defenseless victims?

    And like the priesthood, those with power protect each other from the law.

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    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      If vital evidence is shown to be flawed

      how can we trust the remainder, as it is provided by the same organization which deliberately provided the flawed evidence? If your case is really strong, why include "evidence" you know is tainted?

      The claim is not that everybody was innocent, the claim is very serious errors were made, and not corrected. The latter is more serious. I am quite happy to accept policemen may make errors. However, if you discover you made an error, and then do not try to correct it, but lie to cover up your error, willfully risking convicting the innocent, little can excuse you.

      I do not hold with the Patricians notion that, as everybody is guilty of something, justice is served "on average", and it is merely a bonus if the actual perpetrator is punished.

      Just my thoughts.

  24. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @JS19: "is this *the* Duncan Campbell?"

    Confusingly, there are two of them:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Campbell_%28The_Guardian%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Campbell_%28journalist%29

    The one *not* associated with the Guardian covered Operation Ore (and Echelon and similar technopolitics stuff) and I *assume* is the one that wrote this article (as well as the PC Pro article from 2005: "expert witness Duncan Campbell reveals that many prosecutions were founded on falsehoods").

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      AC@09:30

      You're right. 2 Journalists, Both left of centre and about the same age. Confusion practically guaranteed.

      Thanks for that. I remember him from the ABC trial and it is the same guy.

      I'm rather pleased to see him still working.

  26. Alan Firminger

    M'lud

    If a prosecution depends upon the wording on a link then it has to be shown that this wording was present at the time the accused clicked on it.

    How can anyone do that ?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Time to dust of the FOI forms

    "CEOP said: "We will not be making any further comments on this operation or its various investigations unless required to do so by a court of law or a law enforcement organisation.""

    They are a public body, a few well worded FOI requests should supply the required information.

    One could also suggest that members of Reg's team contact their MP, to see if they would be kind enough to ask those questions in the house (see copper try and not answer those!, especially if the Home Sec. is narked at them as well)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Disclosure

    "The judge ordered them to acquit the doctor, saying that the way information vital to the defence had been held back "stunk of unfairness". Claims made by NCS witnesses were, he said, "utter nonsense"."

    It is a very worrying trend the shear frequency of items coming to light where the police and cps have failed to comply with the disclosure rules, by hiding evidence that may adversely effect thier conviction stats.

    We should not be having to rely on the Judge to keep state prosecuters honest.

    "utter nonence" I presume means that the judge did not he could get them for perjury. (which would be investigate by the police and a decision to prosecute made by the CPS - conflict of interest anybody)

  29. doperative
    Big Brother

    flawed evidence 18 thumbsdown

    Would any of the 18 (?) of you care to explain what it is you disagree about in the original post.

    http://i53.tinypic.com/jz6rus.png

    > The flawed evidence relying on Credit Card receipts that the perps could claim were stolen over the Internet. What they should have done was tag the images with digital signatures and use the presence of such images on the perps hard-drive in evidence ..

    .

    1. PT

      I will

      I think my disagreement is adequately expressed by the follow-up from The Original Ash. But thank you for reminding me to go back and review your post so I could give it a thumbs-down.

      I do not love Big Brother, nor am I a supporter of the Thought Police. Your original post is nothing more than advice on a more reliable way to fit people up next time.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @doperative

      You might like to review the subject of this article. It's not how to be a better detective. It's about the *real* level of investigation was so *poor* it should have been obvious *most* of those cases should have been dropped *before* they got to court.

      Your comments echo the ones on a report on the UK's national ANPR camera network and how its development was a failure of effective network design and project management. #

      The point of *that* article was that most people were not asked if they *wanted* a national system tracking *every* car license plate for at least 5 years (or longer if they can get the upgrade funding) or *any* explanation of *why* it was needed in the *first* place.

      Most people don't want an *efficient* police state.

      They don't want *any* kind of police state.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "see copper try and not answer those!"

    Parts of the police have succeeded with being economical with the truth in Parliament on many previous occasions, an obvious recent one being the Parliamentary queries wrt News of the World's interception of other people's phone messages. That *may* be about to change (John Yates looks at risk) but I'm not counting my chickens till they cross the bridge.

  31. Benedict

    the titles goes here

    I was taking my GCSE's just before operation ore, and my IT teacher got snagged, and not for just viewing. Judging by his behavior in the class he most likely guilty.

  32. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    More deleted's than Gene Hackmans HR file

    in Enemy of the State.

    Joking apart I've ever been deleted once.

    Was it naming an MP I suspected of being shown CP?

    My proposed reaction to finding a group of MP's in some distress?

    Who knows

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even worse

    That acquited doctor still has to go on the sex offenders register for life and is still bound by law to present himself as a registered sex offender.

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