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back to article Judge hits police with massive bill over false Operation Ore charges

A man wrongly accused in Britain's largest ever child pornography investigation has won damages in the High Court after an eight-year legal battle. Jeremy Clifford, 51, from Watford, was arrested and falsely charged in 2003 as part of Operation Ore. His credit card details had been found among those of thousands of British …

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Damn right on bigger damages

£7 for every day of your life that has been ruined is a pisstake.

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Possibly the worst thing you could be associated or charged with

and they pay £20k damages?? You would probably get more from the council tripping up over a broken flag...

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How illegal?

Bear in mind that I could quite possibly have illegal images on my hard drive going around legitimate sites - 'UK' illegal is not 'global' illegal. A hentai image? Any anime showing a 'supposedly' young girl in a compromising situation?

BDSM where it looks like the other person is not enjoying it? Tony the tiger having sexual congress with a human woman? The Olympic logo?

Without knowing WHAT images were on that disk we can't judge him - check your hard disk sometimes and make a judgement. Unless you stick to the Cbeebies website you could be harbouring 'illegal' images as well.

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AC@14:53

"Blackstone's formulation is the principle: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer","

Sadly the UK under nuLabor seemed to favor Stalin's view that better a 100 innocents go to jail than 1 guilty man goes unpunished.

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@John Smith 19

Actually, nu Labour seemed to mostly take the view that everyone had done something wrong so the worst that could happen was someone getting locked up for the wrong crime.

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DJV
Grenade

BASTARDS!

See title.

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Quite Right Too

For a full essay on those affected by the perjurious Ore, check out Inquisition 21 web site.

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.. and DC Hopkins needs a damn good kicking

as well, for deliberately ruining a life to "protect his own position". Words fail me.

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and what's more

"Despite this, the officer, Detective Constable Brian Hopkins, pressed three charges of possession of indecent images of children. Mr Justice Mackay said he cut a "rather pathetic figure" in the witness box, having initially claimed he could not give evidence because of a psychiatric condition."

He did have a psychiatric condition - he's a lying, deceitful, malicious little prick who would rather ruin someone's life than do the right thing (and his duty to uphold the law).

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An apparently contagious condition caused by a "staff virus"

An apparently contagious condition easily transmitted staff meetings by a staff virus, since it apparently lead the rest of his department to support the malicious charges.

The poor dears should be sent to police the sheep on some tiny remote uninhabited Scottish Isle while they recover.

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WTF?

This is the bit that gets my blood boiling:

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: "Legal advice was taken beforehand and it was advised and expected that we had a reasonable chance of winning our case."

They knew that they were wrong to prosecute against expert evidence in the first place and they knew that their prosecution had caused real damage to an innocent person and yet they still fought the case because they thought they'd get away with it.

How fucking dare they...

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Anonymous Coward

"Just Cause" corruption

In the '70's the police in Birmingham cost the "lives" of the Birmingham 6. There was also the "Carl Bridgewater Affair". Other Police Forces did the same on the basis - and continue to do so - see Private Eye - that the arrestee had done it they just didn't have enough evidence.

The police appear to have, in their arrogance, learned nothing and now put the public purse to greater expense in their benighted desire to "think of the children".

How many more genuine nasty creeps have escaped justice while the police defend the indefensible with Our taxes.

Will any senior officer be held to account, lose their livelihood or suffer public opprobrium becasue of this debacle? They might get a bit of a set back in their Knighthood or MBE/CBE... or what have you.

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Unhappy

Damage limitation

The possibility also exists that it was fought purely to limit the damages. 20k may actually be low and the police secretly happy with it.

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@AC

"Will any senior officer be held to account, lose their livelihood or suffer public opprobrium becasue of this debacle?"

Don't be silly, Hopkins will be on the golf course somewhere enjoying being pensioned off early.

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Anonymous Coward

Trouble is, the police probably will not have learned from this.

Why? The taxpayer foots the bill.

This kind of abuse of power will continue until there are definite and personal consequences to the entire chain of police command involved.

The New Labour Government also decided to push through more and more ways for the police to make someone's life miserable and utterly destroy their career - with fewer and fewer checks against it happening.

And ACPO seems to wonder why the common man has so little respect for the police.

Maybe they should use their 20% cuts to get rid of the trash?

There are a lot of really amazing police officers who do a very tough job extremely well for very little reward - but such petty officers like this destroy the entire Force's credibility and make the job so much harder for everyone else.

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Pirate

A modern day witchfinder general.

Sadly, unlike the original, he probably won't get pleurosy.

Just remember folks, this is where crying 'think of the children' leads.

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Poor bloke

Not only is the recompense inadequate, I've no doubt that he's now well known by the constabulary and whilst they may not try to fit him up any more.

I'm damn sure he won't be given the benefit of the doubt. Ever.

Call me a cynic, but I reckon there's a few coppers out there clenching their fists thinking this is one that got away.

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@AC 14:16

"IIRC he also won't be able to use the fast-track visa system for a holiday in the USA".

Well, given his present circumstances he probably couldn't afford a holiday. Besides, since the malicious and baseless prosecution against him originated in the fabrication of evidence by an American policeman, I doubt if he would want to go anywhere near that country.

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@AC 14:16

'As Home Secretary David Blunkett said "buying a child an icecream is sufficient for a police investigation". He also said "No innocent person should have any fears about the outcome of their investigation"'.

Which is why many of us will never again buy a child an ice cream (with the possible exception of our own children - provided there are no witnesses, of course). Or, indeed, speak to a child, help a child, or even look at a child.

No good deed goes unpunished.

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Unhappy

Makes sense.

The more attention focused on the (25% of) perverts out on the street, the less gets focused on those (75%) inside the house.

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Stop

Dont Blame the US

It relieves our own home grown morons of the culpability they deserve.

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@Tom Welsh

"No innocent person....."

That's true - it has been my experience (previously posted here, anonymously, of course) that in this Stazi-like country you are presumed guilty until proven guilty. If there is not sufficient evidence to sustain that proof, then modify and mis-represent the evidence until it is sufficient.

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Unhappy

decimal point?

2.5% perverts on the steet

97.5% pervs in the house.

there fixed it for you :-S

now to fix the real problem

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Legal Advice

"Legal advice was taken beforehand and it was advised and expected that we had a reasonable chance of winning our case."

And you didn't spot the vested interest here. Of course the lawyers 'believe' you have a reasonable chance when it is a guaranteed unreasonable payday for them.

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WTF?

Since when do the police decide anyway?

I thought it was the job of CPS to decide if cases were worth prosecuting.

Police collect evidence, CPS assess it for potential of conviction against public interest, courts prosecute. That's the separation of power. Police have no place in deciding if a case is worthy of prosecution.

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Anonymous Coward

Not entirely true

Although the CPS do generally give the go-nogo, the Police are able to persue prosecution in _some_ cases regardless of what the CPS say.

I was, however, under the impression this was only in fairly trivial cases, not sure accusing someone of being a pedo quite falls under the category trivial!

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cps probably let it through

I would imagine the cps were given something like...

"cant get these images without clicking on the child porn banner" bit mentioned in the other ORE story

"we found these images" (not mentioning they were thumbnails)

"credit card has been used on the sting sites" (not mentioning the disputed CC charges)

given those lines and the large number of other "similar" cases resulting from ORE I would imagine it got the green light from the cps fairly easily

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Since when do the police decide anyway?

CPS not to blame. DC Hopkins did not tell them all that he should have. He suppressed the evidence of his forensic expert.

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Hmm

I wonder what the additional serious charge was? Not in any way to blacken Mr Clifford's character, just an interesting look into the way Plod's mind seems to work: "Get him in front of a jury charged with two things, and hope they're sufficiently swayed to find him guilty of the lesser one".

It's very, very scary to see that someone *known* to be innocent is pursued just so a copper doesn't look stupid. That on top of the mess that was Operation Ore is quite chilling.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

I might be completely wrong here but isn't there some sort of conspiracy offence if you pay for child porn? The idea seems to ring a bell but it could have just been some speculation I heard rather than an actual offence.

The evidence relating to the credit card fraud would have cast serious doubt on any such offence if it is on the statutes.

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Have we tapped CEOP's Jim Gamble for a comment?

I think we should. Didn't he say that Ore was the subject of many false conspiracy theories, or something like that?

I'd just really like to get his view on this.

Aw, go on. Ask him.

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FAIL

I somehow expect...

....that he'd come up with some weasel-worded get out for himself about this one.

The whole thing is absolutely disgusting, I'd like to see the responsible officers dealt with very harshly especially in the cases where they managed to shame innocent people into committing suicide.

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Unhappy

I wonder if there's a manslaughter charge available

in the cases where the pursued individual committed suicide.

Corporate Manslaughter is supposed to cover cases where death wasn't intended by an organisation but was the outcome due to their action or inaction, so it doesn't seem like much of a stretch.

To me that feels like a much shorter stretch than the incredibly slim evidence Operation Ore was originally based upon.

Harassment charges are definitely applicable - though I think those have to apply to an individual, rather than a corporate entity - and good luck finding an individual to pin it on.

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@Ally J

Don't you know, he was Thinking Of The Children! That's all the reason he needs!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong headline

The headline makes it sounds like the guy got a big settlement -- £20,000 is nothing.

Headline should be: Police Destroy Man's Life -- Judge Awards Token Payment

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or rather

Judge Rules Police Maliciously Destroy Man's Life By Obstructing Justice -- Judge Awards Token Payment

And that is the thing, this is not just a civil matter, there is the very serious criminal act of Obstruction of Justice, made worse because it was committed by a police officer on duty.

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Megaphone

Yet again they trot out 'Lessons will be learned'

When what people want to hear is 'Heads will roll.'

Never happens though.

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title

Marginally less unlikely is "Deputy heads will roll"

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Only £20k?!

I'm not a big fan of huge damages claims. Usually they're rubbish. But 8 years of this crap, trashed mental health, a whole bunch of no good for your family, and the loss of your business - come on! Loss of earnings alone is going to be more than that when his business went under.

OTOH, if he's had decent advice then he'll screw them to hell and gone on costs. Costs isn't just your legal team, it's also the time you've spent on this. Document every second you spend on this kind of thing, multiply by the hourly rate in your dayjob, and present your bill.

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Unhappy

sorry

*your* time is worth absolutely nothing. I know this from bitter experience both taking someone to court (successfully) and also being taken to court (and successfully defending myself).

Telephone calls, taxi journeys, letters (stamps, paper, ink) are all costs, and can be recovered. But your time is "free". The only people whos time is worth anything are - wait for it - lawyers and barristers.

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Big Brother

Price of Justice

Not only is your time free, as a citizen it costs you 20% more to get justice than it does for a corporate body.

This is because the solicitor's service are VAT'd, and companies and public bodies can usually get the VAT back.

Would also note the morality of taxing access to justice.

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