Operation Sledgehammer was a campaign carried out by the Austrian police in 2009 claiming to have ‘broken an Internet child porn ring that stretched across 170 countries’. That the UK did not figure prominently in its own version afterwards appears to be because of disastrous mistakes made by CEOP.
Lawyers at the CPS have had a good year. The Operation Ore appeal was dismissed in the High Court and news of an almighty mess-up in the very recent UK involvement in Operation Sledgehammer did not get leaked to the outside world.
This was not the Sledgehammer operation which tackled organised crime groups in County Durham and Darlington, but the UK’s follow on to the 2009 Austrian police’s Operation Sledgehammer which claimed the breaking of a child porn ring in 170 countries. When one remembers the trumpeting of the police in Operation Ore, their silence over Sledgehammer must appear deafening.
CEOP under its then leader Jim Gamble managed Sledgehammer and despite hundreds of arrests got it so wrong that the head of the cyber crime unit in Nottingham wrote a report, since kept secret but issued widely to national forces, warning of the mistakes made by CEOP.
CPS lawyers have been overheard agreeing that the information in the Nottingham report should have been revealed to defence solicitors, but that justice was probably done anyway as the accused were probably ‘sick people’. They have also privately agreed that the report, should it get out, is dynamite.
It is now in the interest of justice to obtain the Nottingham report either through an FOI request or in a case brought against the police for arrest under Sledgehammer.
Was this the reason for Jim Gamble's sudden resignation last year? Did someone on high say, "Not another Operation Ore!"