RONNIE'S TORMENT; For nearly a year, Ronnie Barker's son Adam has been on the run from child porn charges. Here, we reveal the real story of Adam's disappearance …
and the terrible toll it has taken on his family
Byline: RICHARD PENDLEBURY;STEPHEN WRIGHT Daily Mail 9 April 2005
THE typewritten letter began innocuously enough: 'Dear Mummy and Daddy.' What followed was coldly matter-of-fact, yet utterly devastating. It read: 'I need to tell you that some time ago the police came to my house looking for images of underage children on my computer. I was arrested.
'I must apologise for being foolish and thank you for being great parents.
You bear no responsibility for what has happened.
'I have come to the conclusion that rather than wait and find out what will happen, I will go away. You must understand that I won't be able to contact you for quite some time.
'Rest assured I will not harm myself; I would rather come back.
'Lots of love, ADAM.' The Mail can exclusively reveal that this is the way in which Adam Barker, the 37-year-old actor son of British comedy legend Ronnie Barker, broke to his parents the news of his arrest for allegedly possessing child pornography and then prepared them for his flight from justice.
He has been missing for almost a year and his family say there has been no contact since he went.
Adam's apparent shameful secret and decision to become a fugitive has devastated his 75-year- old father, one of the best-loved figures in the world of showbusiness.
Friends fear for Ronnie Barker's health. Plagued by heart trouble, his haggard appearance and uncertain delivery on the recently launched series The Two Ronnies Sketchbook, in which he reprises his classic partnership with Ronnie Corbett, has shocked his legion of fans.
Off-screen, the comedian - an intensely private man, devoted to his family and home - has found the spotlight focused on his affairs in the most distressing circumstances, and he faces the agonising prospect of perhaps never seeing his youngest child again.
Furthermore, if Adam does make contact, his father will face the conflict between paternal love and loyalty and the moral obligation to report it to the police. As this picture shows, the strain is all too obvious.
Adam Barker was one of 7,000 British men identified by Operation Ore, a police swoop on subscribers to an American internet portal which allowed access to a number of vile child porn sites across Europe and Asia. So far, at least 33 Ore suspects in the UK have chosen to kill themselves rather than face punishment and the public humiliation.
Hundreds of others have been put on the sex offenders' register and received sentences of up to five years' imprisonment.
Such is the backlog of cases that the majority of suspects have yet to be dealt with by the courts.
Adam Barker was among them and he knew the knock was coming. But after apparently making a half-hearted attempt to destroy the physical evidence of his interest in child pornography, he made a more profound decision.
He would not only run away from his shame, but completely disappear. It is not an easy task to accomplish but, 12 months on, Barker has, so far, succeeded in dropping off the radar of everyday life.
Police believe he may have had at least professional advice, if not more substantial help, to disappear so successfully.
Of course, he leaves behind the victims, and not only the children whose images he allegedly bought.
The close-knit Barker family has been subjected to regular visits by detectives still desperate for any clue that could lead them to Adam.
Officers' investigations have taken them to the Continent, where they strongly believe Adam to be hiding and where both his father and brother have family homes.
Now, helped by a number of family friends and legal sources, the Mail can tell, for the first time in detail, the extraordinary story of the calculated 'disappearance' of Adam Valentine Barker.
The chubby Old Harrovian is the youngest child of Ronnie Barker and Joy, his wife of 47 years. The Barkers' other son, Larry, 45, is a successful advertising executive - so successful, in fact, that he has recently upped sticks from his Oxfordshire family home, moving with his wife and two children to a chateau and vineyard near Bordeaux.
As we shall see later, this location has proved of some interest to British police.
The Barkers' daughter, Charlotte, 42, followed her father into showbusiness, but her acting career has failed to flourish despite Ronnie's best efforts.
While Adam has enjoyed a greater profile than his sister, he has been only a minor character actor in TV series such as Wycliffe and Monarch Of The Glen.
He reached his largest audience, albeit fleetingly, as a doomed Royal Navy sonar operator in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
Adam and Charlotte lived alone, a few doors away from each other on the same quiet street in Ealing, West London.
And it was in his terrace cottage that he allegedly indulged his paedophile interests.
In late February 2003, Scotland Yard was informed by American law enforcement agencies, via the UK's National Crime Squad, that a man called Adam Barker had used his Barclays Visa card to pay for child porn on the internet.
The transactions had apparently taken place in 1999. The Mail understands that on one occasion Barker had paid about [pounds sterling]20 to access one computer site; on another he had used the credit card to pay [pounds sterling]6 to view another paedophile site.
Metropolitan police officers visited Barker's home in June 2003. He was arrested and taken to Southall police station for interview where, the Mail understands, he was far from co-operative.
Searching his home, officers are said to have found a number of computer hard drives which had been smashed in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.
It was only as they made their search that police realised that the man they'd arrested was the son of Ronnie Barker: with a large number of photographs and memorabilia, the house was a shrine to the loving father whom Adam Barker, even in early middle age, still called 'Daddy'.
Rock star Pete Townshend had been arrested for similar offences in connection with Operation Ore only months earlier, for which The Who guitarist received a caution.
The furore surrounding that case did not encourage police to fast-track Barker's investigation. They did not want to be seen to be treating him any differently from the thousands of suspects who would not make headlines.
So it was only ten months later, in April last year, that experts got round to analysing the computer equipment
It was damning: police managed to recover 1,200 images of child porn, including a small percentage of 'Grade 5' , which is deemed to be paedophile pornography of the worst kind, showing adults engaged in sex with children.
Up to this stage, Barker had been answering the terms of his bail.
Indeed, in late 2003 and early 2004, he was deeply involved in what may prove to have been his final theatrical role.
Justifying War was the Tricycle Theatre's re-enactment of the Hutton Inquiry and Barker played a junior barrister, one of the legal team exploring events leading up to the suicide of Iraq weapons expert Dr David Kelly.
Barker was a suspected paedophile, not a whistleblower like Dr Kelly, but he too greatly feared public exposure.
While he must have recognised the similarities with his own position, it seemed he had no intention of following Dr Kelly to an early grave.
Around the same time as the porn was identified in spring last year, solicitors acting for Ronnie Barker's family contacted police to say they had received an extraordinary letter from Adam, the main contents of which we have divulged.
The details are so sensitive that Scotland Yard will not even acknowledge its existence, let alone discuss its contents.
Here was the first warning sign that Adam Barker had a plan. What is striking about the letter, say the legal sources, aside from its content and curiously detached tone, is that it was typewritten and therefore beyond the analysis of caligraphists. It was not even possible to say, for sure, whether Barker had written it.
But by June 23 last year, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that it had enough evidence to prosecute Adam Barker.
The following day he was due to appear again at Southall police station to answer bail. If he had, he would have been charged, but, of course, he never appeared. A warrant was drawn up for his arrest and, belatedly, the chase was on.
When Charlotte let officers into her brother's home shortly afterwards, it was clear that his had not been some panicked, spur-of-the-moment flight.
Adam Barker had emptied the house of much of his portable personal belongings, including his clothes and passport. The Mail understands that his financial affairs had been carefully put in order. His family were asked to dispose of his car, a VW Golf.
Since then Adam has, to all intents and purposes, vanished from the face of the earth.
None of his debit or credit cards has been used, nor have any calls been made on his mobile phone. Calls to it are met with a recorded request to leave a text message.
These are basic rules for anyone on the run and police believe he may have sought professional advice from security or private investigation experts on how to disappear.
With a passport and ready cash, Barker could have passed unnoticed through a ferry terminal on his way to the Continent. Police suspect he may well have considerable funds held in offshore accounts.
It is to Barker's advantage that he is a loner, happy with his own company.
But he is also an actor, used to playing a part. Detectives believe that he could well have changed not only his appearance, which is so like a younger version of his father, but also his identity.
Bob Moffatt, a former detective superintendent in the Metropolitan Police's murder squad and an expert in tracking fugitives, said that the delay in analysing Adam Barker's computer had given the actor plenty of time to plan his escape.
'With the right amount of warning, you can get good advice from friends, associates or even professionals about what to do with your money, where to buy property, and how to make contact with loved ones without coming to the attention of the authorities,' he says.
'Someone planning to go on the run would normally consider how to retain their assets, how to move money to offshore accounts which cannot be traced easily by the police, and choose a country to live in which has non-existent or difficult extradition procedures.
'Then it is a question of keeping your head down and waiting for the hue and cry back home to abate.' But Mr Moffatt is convinced Barker will eventually surface.
'A life on the run is not a happy one,' he said. 'You are constantly looking over your shoulder.
'History has shown us that most fugitives turn up sooner or later. The Great Train Robbers - Ronnie Biggs, Bruce Reynolds and Buster Edwards - all re-emerged after going on the run, as did the disgraced politician John Stonehouse and the murderer Kenneth Noye.
'Barker may have it in his mind that if he returns in a few years' time, the police could decide it is no longer in the public interest to prosecute him.'
So where is he? Without any hard clues, police inquiries have turned towards France, where an extradition warrant is already in place.
Barker spoke fluent French and is believed to have been a frequent visitor to Paris. What is more, his brother Larry's new home and their parents' holiday home are only a few miles apart in the south-west of the country.
This week, the extremely frail looking comedian, who has lived for the past 20 years in a Cotswolds village, was supervising the unloading of furniture at the holiday house near Cognac. His daughter was also believed to be with him.
A friend of the family told the Mail: 'Ronnie was devastated by the disappearance of Adam.
It shattered him physically and emotionally and I think that has contributed to his ill health. He is suffering from heart trouble.
'The family says they have had absolutely no contact at all with Adam. That is even the word from those closest to him.
'I do know that the police have been in contact with the family again recently. I don't know if there was something specific but I was told it was not just because the first anniversary of the disappearance was coming up.'
Intriguingly, local people have reported seeing a British man of distinctive appearance, answering the description of Adam Barker, in the area of the Barker family's French homes up until a few weeks ago. And a child porn site has recently appeared in France, hosted by someone calling themselves Adam Barker.
Two red herrings - or proof that the fugitive has gone to ground in wine country? In truth, he could be anywhere in the world.
So far he has been lucky, but for how long is Adam Barker prepared to play his hardest role yet?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 10:20 AM
Advocate Peter Ferbrache/ Guernsey. Family member looking for his family connections...
Advocate Peter Ferbrache/ Guernsey. Family member looking for his family connections...
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 9:53 AM
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 6:17 AM
Public servant on 'child sex' charges - but we're barred from telling you anything about him
By Martin Delgado
Last updated at 12:22 PM on 27th March 2011
A public servant has appeared in court on charges believed to be connected to child-sex offences under a draconian restriction which means nothing can be said about him.
The Mail on Sunday is aware of his job but cannot disclose any information about the man, who can be referred to only as ‘X’.
Bizarrely, a second defendant in the case has not been granted anonymity.
The concealment of the identity of the public servant is believed to be an unprecedented move in a criminal case of this kind.
It is not known on what basis he was granted anonymity.
Restrictions have been used in other cases like those of child-killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson - the boys were convicted of murdering toddler James Bulger
Other restrictions have been used to conceal the identity of child-killer Mary Bell, and Jon Venables and Robert Thompson – the boys convicted of murdering toddler James Bulger.
In these cases, however, there were full and open trials and anonymity was imposed only after court proceedings had concluded.
This time, the restriction has been imposed before any trial, and, unusually, for only one of the defendants.
However, there is deep concern in legal circles about
the increasing imposition of restrictions on reporting and the creeping spread of secret justice.
This case is bound to cause particular controversy because of the man’s job and the seriousness of the charges against him.
There has been increasing concern during the past year about the super-injunctions that have been used in a number of high-profile privacy cases, often brought by highly paid footballers and other celebrities in an attempt to save themselves from embarrassment after extra-marital affairs.
Super-injunctions are so far-reaching that the media are prohibited from even revealing their existence.
The man, who is understood to be in his mid-30s, is in custody after being arrested in the past few months.
He and his co-accused are understood to be facing a total of up to 70 charges. ‘X’ appeared before magistrates in December and is due to make another pre-trial appearance at a Crown Court later this week.
We can only refer to him as ‘X’ for legal reasons.
The case is being handled by the Crown Prosecution Service but a CPS lawyer refused to talk to a Mail on Sunday reporter yesterday.
The Ministry of Justice said it held no information about the case.
The police force leading the inquiry initially said it would provide this newspaper
with information about the charges facing the two men, but then failed to return our calls.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1370388/Public-servant-child-sex-charges--barred-telling-him.html#ixzz1HnvgVO4b
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 6:00 AM
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Operation Ore (Staffordshire)Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do not adjourn.- (Angela Watkinson.)
10.15 pmRobert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab): May I begin my thanking Mr Speaker for granting this debate? Those watching and listening will no doubt wonder why I want to raise something that happened such a long time ago. The simple answer is that my constituents have had to wait such a long time for an apology, and indeed are still awaiting an apology from Staffordshire police. I hope that following the debate the current chief constable, who is an honourable man, will move to ensure that that wrong is corrected without further delay.
I want to say something about Operation Ore in general. All aspects of child pornography are horrific, and I pay tribute to all agencies that act to stamp out that appalling crime. The victims of those crimes need so much more than just sympathy. However, Operation Ore was not handled well: thousands of people were falsely accused, leading to 100,000 children being wrongly removed from their homes, people's reputations wrongly being destroyed and, tragically, a number of people committing suicide. It is with that in mind that I turn to the circumstances of a constituent who, quite understandably, wishes to remain anonymous. Staffordshire police are fully aware of the case and know to whom I refer.
I wish to take the opportunity presented by the debate to raise the case of that constituent, who in December 2002 was arrested by Staffordshire police as part of Operation Ore, the British part of the global operation against internet child pornography. When I conclude my remarks, I will seek a number of reassurances from the Minister, whom I am grateful to see here this evening to respond to the debate.
Almost four years before the circumstances of December 2002, in January 1999, my constituent reported that his Barclaycard had been stolen. He reported it to a police station in Stoke-on-Trent, which issued him with a crime number, and to Barclaycard, from which he received a refund of £179.76 for some unlawful transactions made in the period between the theft of the card and his reporting it at the police station.
However, on 12 December 2002, eight officers arrived at my constituent's home early in the morning amid a high police presence. Vans were parked for most of the day outside his home, which he shared with his parents, understandably arousing a great deal of interest in the neighbourhood. During the day a considerable amount of property, including computer equipment, was removed from the home. He was arrested on the grounds that the Barclaycard registered to him had been used in 1999 to access a website containing child pornography. I reiterate that it was in January 1999 that he had reported the theft to the police.
My constituent suffers from ulserative colitis, for which he had been taking prescribed medicine, which he informed the police doctor about early in his detention. His medication was brought to the police station promptly but was withheld from him until he was released at 7 o'clock that evening. As a result of the stress of his arrest and the withholding of his medication, his medical
On 13 December 2002, the following day, my constituent was able to provide Staffordshire police with evidence that he had, indeed, reported the theft of his credit card in January 1999, and of the resulting refund from Barclaycard. As a result, no charges have ever been brought against him, and on 18 December 2002 all the property that had been seized on 12 December was returned. The police had checked the credit card database, but incredibly only back to 2002; the incident to which it related took place in 1999.
After much deliberation, during which the family tried to rebuild their standing in the community and to move on from the awful experience, my constituent and his parents decided in February 2003 to make formal complaints to Staffordshire police for wrongful arrest. These were acknowledged in writing on 25 February 2003 by the then deputy chief constable, David Swift, who informed both parties that their complaints had been passed to the force's professional standards unit, where it would be handled by a Mr Hulse. On 6 March 2003, DCC Swift wrote again to my constituent's parents, asking them to contact an Inspector Humphries within 14 days, which they did.
My constituent and his parents met the inspector in March 2003 and were told that, as my constituent had been the person arrested, any complaint should come from him. Therefore, the parents withdrew their complaint. My constituent was also persuaded not to pursue a formal complaint-he was told that this would be interpreted as a personal attack on the police officers-but to go down the route of an informal complaint.
Later that month, my constituent's parents engaged a firm of local solicitors, and, during a meeting with Mr Hulse, he informed my constituent that, owing to a change in the police computer system, only records dating back to 2002 had been checked prior to his arrest, therefore the 1999 report of the theft of his credit card had not shown up. My constituents were advised by their solicitor that it would thus be difficult to proceed further with any complaint, as negligence would need to be proved, and that that would be an expensive undertaking for which legal aid would not be available.
In June 2003, my constituent's parents wrote to the Metropolitan police, the lead force on Operation Ore, but their letter was merely forwarded to Staffordshire police, who informed them in July 2003 that the matter was now being dealt with by a detective inspector from the local CID.
In September 2003, my constituents engaged new solicitors, and a formal complaint for wrongful arrest was made on 1 October 2003, which Staffordshire police once again referred to the PSU in a letter dated 10 October. On 17 October, my constituent received a further letter informing him that Inspector Humphries was again handling their complaint.
There exists a withdrawal of complaint form, dated 24 October 2003, which apparently has been signed by my constituent. My constituent remains adamant to this day, however, that at no time did he agree to withdraw his complaint, sign any such document or
In February 2004, my constituents' solicitors informed Staffordshire police of their intention to seek damages for wrongful arrest and imprisonment, and that was acknowledged by Staffordshire police on 24 February 2004 and by the force's insurers on 5 March 2004. In June 2004, my constituent was asked to provide some proof of his inability to work, and he was able to provide some evidence.
On 25 October 2004, however, Staffordshire police's legal adviser, a Mr Griffiths, wrote to my constituents rejecting their claim, stating that in his opinion the arrest of my constituent had been lawful for the following reasons. First, my constituent did not inform the arresting officer of the 1999 theft of his credit card until part way through his first interview, not at the time of his arrest. Given the circumstances, it took some time for my constituent to be made aware of what he had been arrested for and all the implications of it. Secondly, the use of a credit card raised a prima facie case of suspicion, and the report of the theft of the card was not in itself proof of theft. Thirdly, officers had reasonable cause to suspect that my constituent was, according to Mr Griffiths's letter,
15 Mar 2011 : Column 276
have the inclination to withdraw his complaint. Staffordshire police appear to have no record of the original complaint, just the withdrawal of it, and in addition there are factual errors on the withdrawal form. In an effort to try to resolve that particular aspect of the case, I sought to view the original withdrawal form, and was told in no uncertain terms by the solicitors for Staffordshire police, "Who are you to be even considering reviewing such a document?" I am sure that the Minister will agree that so far the whole issue is of great concern.15 Mar 2011 : Column 275
condition worsened, necessitating a medical referral to a consultant in order to rebalance the medication. It is only in recent years that his health has improved following the stress of that incident.
"merely trying to pass the blame onto others."
Unfortunately, in January 2005, my constituents' solicitors advised that they could see no reasonable chance of progressing the complaint further, and closed their file. In August 2005, my constituent made another formal complaint, this time on the ground of failure to provide prescribed medication. On 29 September 2005, Mr Griffiths wrote to my constituent, advising him that if he wanted to pursue the complaints, he should do so through legal representatives. In October 2005, my constituent complained further, to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which informed my constituent by letter on 18 October that the IPCC had arranged for my constituent to be contacted by Staffordshire police to discuss the issue. According to my constituent, however, no such contact was ever made.
The years were now rolling on, and in December 2005, my constituent received a letter from the then Deputy Chief Constable Lee of Staffordshire police upholding the initial rejection of my constituent's complaint, at which time my constituent asked the IPCC to undertake
In August 2006, my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), in his then role as Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, advised me that the Home Office could not become involved in the specifics of the case as it was an operational matter for Staffordshire police, and that he had forwarded my representations to Staffordshire police. He also suggested that any complaints about the IPCC be initially taken up with the IPCC caseworker. My constituent made a further complaint to the IPCC about its refusal to take up the complaint, but that was subsequently rejected. During 2007, again following further representations from me, Staffordshire police refused to reconsider my constituent's early complaints. I was also, somewhat disturbingly, advised by the IPCC that it had no record of my constituent's case file.
Having spent some time setting out the background to the case and the reasons behind the continuing anger and unhappiness of my constituent and his parents at the system of making a complaint against the police, I would like to ask the Minister to give me some reassurance on five specific points. First, will he use his good offices to persuade Staffordshire police to apologise, at long last, to my constituent and his parents, if for no other reason than for withholding the prescribed medication, for which I can see no justification?
Secondly, will the Minister assure me that, in future, all records-not just those from 2002 onwards-will be checked prior to any arrest, so that no other innocent person and their family has to suffer the trauma and indignity experienced by my constituent and his parents? Thirdly, will the Minister clarify whether he believes it correct that any complaint made before the creation of the IPCC cannot be pursued by it, and will he tell me what, if any, recourse is open to any other complainants in a similar situation?
Fourthly, is the Minister happy that, when a complaint is made either against an officer or, as in this instance, against a police force in general, it is handled in a way that is liable to produce an outcome that leaves the complainant feeling less than reassured? Fifthly, will he send the message today to all police forces that, when a mistake is found to have been made, a swift apology must be forthcoming? This is a dreadful case of sloppy practice leading to an injustice, yet, even now, all my constituent really wants is an apology.
Child pornography is an appalling crime, and those who are guilty rightly face public shame as well as the full force of the law. However, those who have committed no crime and who are wrongly accused also face public anger and horror. The police should therefore behave with the greatest level of professionalism. In this case, that professionalism was sadly lacking. I hope that the Minister will be able to respond to my five points, and that, despite what the force's solicitors have said, Staffordshire police will make a full apology to my constituent and seek to right this wrong.
10.29 pmThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Brokenshire): Let me start by congratulating the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Robert Flello) on securing this debate and on bringing this important matter to the attention of the House. I certainly understand his desire to highlight the specific case of his constituent, and he has clearly followed up with great care the various issues that have been raised with him. I hope he will recognise that it is difficult for me to respond specifically on an individual case of this nature. I also hope, however, that he will appreciate that this provides me with an opportunity to comment on Operation Ore and on a number of steps that the Government are taking to tackle the issue of illegal images on line and the wider work of child protection generally. I note the five points that he has highlighted, and I will seek to address some of them in the course of my comments.
It might be helpful if I give the House a brief overview of Operation Ore. As the hon. Gentleman has explained, this was, at the time, an investigation into the activities of individuals on a scale that we had not seen before. In September 1999, the United States Postal Inspection Service searched the premises of an American-based online trading company known as Landslide Inc, which was providing access for payment to adult pornography and child abuse images. Material was seized which included a database containing the list of subscribers.
In September 2001, Landslide Inc transaction information was received by the National Crime Squad, a precursor agency of CEOP-the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. The information was originally received within the National Criminal Intelligence Service, but following an initial assessment it was passed to the National Crime Squad. The NCS took responsibility for national co-ordination in dealing with the dissemination of the subscriber data. This included a co-ordinated approach to the categorisation and prioritisation of individual suspects based on their potential access to children. The transaction data consisted of information submitted by a customer in purchasing access to the websites, which included their name, address, credit card number, e-mail address and a customer-selected password. In April 2004, following the first incitement case, further forensic work revealed the capture of the subscriber IP address and the credit card verification logs.
In the majority of Operation Ore cases, police forces have used the data from Landslide Inc to commence investigations into the suspected possession of indecent images of a child.
There is a common misconception about these cases being linked under an overall programme of investigation. I want to make it clear that the decision whether to proceed in each individual case was a matter for the police force concerned, and that once the individual packages were released to the forces, it was the responsibility of individual chief constables to decide whether to undertake investigations. Following investigation, forces considered whether offences had been committed and warranted judicial proceedings. Each case was independently scrutinised by the local Crown Prosecution Service, and in those cases where suspects elected for trial, the evidence was obviously further tested by the courts. To the best of our knowledge, no cases were brought on the basis of credit card data alone.
We understand that about 2,700 individuals have been convicted of these offences. This figure includes more than 700 admitting their guilt in receiving a formal caution. In almost 2,300 cases, child abuse images were discovered. In 22% of all dissemination cases following an investigation, the police service took no further action. Importantly, more than 154 children were safeguarded.
As I have already indicated, it would not be appropriate for me to discuss individual cases in this debate, but I want to be clear that it is my understanding that the investigation process followed by the police in these cases was the same as for any other type of crime, and that following a thorough investigation, decisions were made on whether to proceed with a prosecution, or other action, taking all relevant factors into account.
I appreciate the points made by the hon. Gentleman and recognise the sensitivities for people who are arrested or accused of such crimes. An additional factor that the police have to consider in such cases is whether there is a direct and continuing threat to children from those who have been accused of a crime. It is a matter for the investigating officers, in conjunction with local children's services, what action they take having considered that question. The hon. Gentleman has highlighted his desire and his constituent's desire to receive an apology from Staffordshire police. That is a matter for Staffordshire police. The hon. Gentleman has put on the record the chronology of the events, the issues he has and his constituent's concerns. I am sure that those points will be heard by Staffordshire police as a consequence of this debate.
The police and CEOP have standard guidelines for dealing with these investigations, which include recommendations for handling interviews and arrests. Although it is right that we consider the effect of the accusation on the person who is accused, that needs to be balanced with the risk posed to children. A member of the public who is dissatisfied with the behaviour of individual officers or a force may complain to the relevant police force or to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. The IPCC has a dual purpose to act as an overall guardian to the police complaints system, ensuring its effectiveness and efficiency, and also to take a role in individual cases. It is entirely independent of the police and the Government. The hon. Gentleman raised a specific point about the IPCC's ability to take on individual cases that predate its creation. I hope that it is satisfactory to him if I respond later with further details on that issue.
The broader issue of illegal images is sadly one that persists. I would like to take this opportunity to set out the approach that we will take to that problem. I believe
I recognise the support for the Internet Watch Foundation and the action taken by responsible internet service providers to prevent inadvertent access by the public to such images. That is an example of how industry and others can make a significant contribution to tackling this problem. I valued the opportunity this afternoon to attend the launch of the IWF's three-year strategy and the publication of its annual report on its work to take down such images, working closely with law enforcement and other agencies. The Government strongly support this model for tackling illegal images. We believe that it works and we would like to see other countries take action to achieve the same ends.
The work of the IWF and the industry, allied with that of the police and CEOP, has helped virtually to eradicate the content in question from servers hosted in the UK, although there is clearly still work to be done. We will continue to support the work of CEOP, which does so much to help to protect children. It has been a great success, and it has helped to safeguard a significant number of children and apprehend people who would seek to harm them.
I wish to reassure the House of two things. The first is the seriousness with which the Government take the protection of children. In that context, we will continue to support the work of the police and CEOP to protect children from the threats posed to them. Like the hon. Gentleman, I thank them and congratulate them on their work to ensure that children are safer. Secondly, we will ensure that should an operation on the scale of Operation Ore be required again, the UK has in place a robust structure to deal with it. We will ensure that cases are handled in accordance with the law.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important issue in general, and equally for raising the case of his individual constituent. He has made his points very clearly, and he has certainly followed the case through for his constituent. I am sure that hon. Members who are in the House this evening, and people outside, will have heard the points he has raised tonight and will take notice of them.
Question put and agreed to .
10.40 pmHouse adjourned.
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that we all have a responsibility to help to make the internet a safer place for the public. I support the self-regulatory model developed in the UK by the internet industry and law enforcement to provide a structure for the reporting of such images, the analysis of them, and action to track down those responsible or prevent access to them.15 Mar 2011 : Column 277
an investigation into why no pre-2002 records search had taken place, as such a search would have shown that the credit card had been reported stolen in January 1999. Unfortunately, the IPCC wrote back to say that, as the original complaint predated the IPCC's formation and fell under the auspices of the Police Complaints Authority, it was unable, under law, to accept the complaint.
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 3:37 AM