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Thirty-two of the men arrested during UK child porn investigation Operation Ore have committed suicide, police said yesterday. The men were reportedly unable to cope with the shame of their arrests.

The revelation has prompted calls that anyone arrested for such offenses be granted anonymity until they are proven to be guilty. However, the Home Office says it sees no need to change the law.

Operation Ore began in the UK around two years ago when the FBI turned over the details of 7,200 British child porn suspects to UK police. The details came from the subscriber lists of an American child porn aggregator, which provided access to 300 child porn sites in exchange for £21 per month.

A total of 3,729 of the men on the list have now been arrested. Of these, around 1,600 have been charged and a further 1,200 convicted.

Rock star Pete Townsend was one of those named on the list. He admitted to subscribing to the service but maintained that he was doing research for a book on the subject. He told The Daily Mail that the shame of the arrest nearly drove him to suicide. "If I had had a gun, I would have shot myself," he said.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said that it did its best to handle allegations of involvement in child pornography as sensitively as possible, but that it would not be deterred from enforcing the law.

Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, spokesman for ACPO, commented: "These are very, very emotive, difficult cases to investigate, and for those caught up in it, the embarrassment and shame can be very high. But we cannot turn a blind eye to these sort of offences." ®

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