Operation Ore was based on flawed evidence from the start
Cops raised concerns ahead of national meeting in 2003
Interpretations and justifications
New evidence, exclusively available to The Register, shows that NCS knew that claims about the "Child Porn" home page were wrong – even before being told of computer evidence found by local police investigators.
Former NCS Detective Constable and SOCA agent Sharon Girling has admitted that NCS knew about the error before detectives from around Britain were called together in London and given the false information. "By February ," Girling said in a recorded telephone conversation, "we were aware that that wasn’t the case.
"It was an interpretation," she added. She said: "The 'Click Here Child Porn' certainly wasn't available" to potential subscribers to web porn sites.
Asked specifically if she disputed that an innocuous image of a landslide on a mountain was the real home page, Girling replied: “Absolutely not.” (The real Landslide front page and the banner image used instead were illustrated in PC Pro’s August 2005 report, Operation Ore exposed)
Despite this, from February 2003 on, NCS and CPS circulated nationally a "Generic Incitement File" claiming that "the Landslide home page ... included the words 'CLICK HERE CHILD PORN'".
Girling told The Register that she "was not in a position to respond", and referred questions to CEOP.
NCS officers also concealed a videotape recording of website browsing made by the Dallas detective Steven Nelson, and which also showed that he had concocted the "home page".
The way Nelson had made up website evidence was revealed in 2005 but was never admitted by NCS.
NCS first claimed that there had no copy of his videotape, then claimed that it was "too grainy to see".
The tape has never been examined in court cases.
Meanwhile, Detective Nelson refused to give evidence in the UK, and retired, claiming that he had to nurse his sick wife. His place was taken by a second US agent, who was asked in a court case where the child porn banner had come from. He replied. "I do not remember, sir, I'm sorry, the specific URL".
Another disclosed police document, provided in response to a Freedom of Information application, was written by a woman detective who had been ordered to arrest and prosecute a consultant surgeon in 2002. She catalogued more than 20 "discrepancies, errors and uncertainties" in the NCS-provided evidence.
The surgeon, a Hull trauma consultant, was nevertheless arrested and prosecuted. Police invaded his house "like stormtroopers", according to his wife, causing "18 months of sheer hell".
No pictures were found. The surgeon was sacked from his job, suspended as a doctor, suffered a stroke, and was put on trial as a paedophile in April 2004.
The trial jury was never told that Humberside police had challenged the NCS evidence, or that they had not been given all the evidence.
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". ®