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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Internet Investigation Report

Annex 1: Overview of process and evidence obtained by the Inquiry

1. Definition of scope

The Internet investigation is an inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated by the internet.

The scope of this investigation is as follows:

1. The Inquiry will investigate the nature and extent of the use of the internet and other digital communications technology (collectively ‘the internet’) to facilitate child sexual abuse, including by way of sharing indecent images of children; viewing or directing the abuse of children via online streaming or video conferencing; grooming or otherwise coordinating contact offences against children; or by any other means. The investigation shall incorporate case specific investigations and a review of existing information available from published and unpublished reports and reviews, court cases, and previous investigations.

2. In doing so, the Inquiry will consider the experiences of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet, and investigate the adequacy of:

2.1. government policy relevant to the protection of children from sexual abuse facilitated by the internet;

2.2. the relevant statutory and regulatory framework applicable to internet service providers, providers of online platforms, and other relevant software companies;

2.3. the response of internet service providers, providers of online platforms, and other relevant software companies to child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet;

2.4. the response of law enforcement agencies to child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet;

2.5. the response of the criminal justice system to child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet.[1]

2. Core participants and legal representatives

Counsel to this investigation:

Jacqueline Carey
Eesvan Krishnan

 

Complainant core participants:

IN-A1, IN-A2, IN-A3 (Phase two)
Counsel William Chapman
Solicitor David Greenwood and Kieran Chatterton (Switalskis)

 

Institutional core participants:

National Crime Agency (NCA) (Phase one and phase two)
Counsel Neil Sheldon QC
Solicitor Sarah Pritchard and Karen Park (NCA)
National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) (Phase one and phase two)
Counsel Debra Powell QC and James Berry
Solicitor Craig Sutherland and Ian Coleman (East Midlands Police Legal Services)
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Metropolitan Police Service) (Phase one and phase two)
Counsel Jason Beer QC (Phase one)
Christopher Butterfield (Phase two)
Solicitor Metropolitan Police Service’s Directorate of Legal Services
Home Office (Phase one and phase two)
Counsel Tom Kark QC (Phase one)
Nicholas Griffin QC (Phase two)
Solicitor Daniel Rapport (Government Legal Department)
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) (Phase two)
Counsel Peter Alcock
Solicitor Charles Arrand and Joanne Sear (Shoosmiths)

 

3. Evidence received by the Inquiry

Number of witness statements obtained:
96
Organisations and individuals to which requests for documentation or witness statements were sent:
Apple
Avon and Somerset Constabulary
BT
Child Redress International (CRI)
Coadec
College of Policing
Cumbria Constabulary
Eastern Region Specialist Operation Unit (ERSOU)
Facebook
Google
Greater Manchester Police
Gwent Police
Home Office
IN-A1
IN-A2
IN-A3
IN-H1
IN-X1 and IN-X2, Dark Justice
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
James (Jim) Gamble QPM
John Carr OBE
Kent Police
Kik
Lorin LaFave
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)
Microsoft
National Crime Agency (NCA)
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
Norfolk Constabulary
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC)
Tink Palmer, Marie Collins Foundation
West Midlands Police (WMP)

 

4. Disclosure of documents

Total number of pages disclosed: 17,347

 

5. Public hearings including preliminary hearings

Preliminary hearings
1 19 September 2017
2 1 November 2018
Public hearings: Phase one
Days 1–5 22–26 January 2018
Public hearings: Phase two
Days 1–5 13–17 May 2019
Days 6–8 20–22 May 2019
Day 9 24 May 2019

 

6. List of witnesses

Surname Forename Title Called, read, summarised or adduced Hearing day
LaFave Lorin Ms Called 1 of phase one
Palmer Gillian (Tink) Ms Called 1 of phase one
Gamble James (Jim) Mr Called 2 of phase one
Niven Keith Mr Called 2, 3 of phase one
Bailey Simon Chief Constable Called 3 of phase one
6 of phase two
Murray Alex Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Read 4 of phase one
Smith Richard Commander Called
Read
4 of phase one
6 of phase two
Blaker Anthony Assistant Chief Constable Read 4 of phase one
White William Detective Superintendent Called 4 of phase one
Ford Debbie Assistant Chief Constable Read 4 of phase one
Webster Mark Assistant Chief Constable Called 5 of phase one
Ackland Emma Acting Assistant Chief Constable Read 5 of phase one
Kirk Rhiannon Acting Assistant Chief Constable Read 5 of phase one
IN-A3 Called 1 of phase two
IN-A1 Read 1 of phase two
IN-A2 Read 1 of phase two
IN-H1 Called 2 of phase two
de Bailliencourt Julie Ms Called 2 of phase two
Polinsky Melissa Ms Called 3 of phase two
Milward Hugh Mr Called 3, 4 of phase two
Canegallo Kristie Ms Called 4 of phase two
Brown Kevin Mr Called 5 of phase two
Roberts Michael Mr Read 5 of phase two
Hargreaves Susan (Susie) Ms Called 5 of phase two
Jones Robert Mr Called 6 of phase two
IN-X1 Read 6 of phase two
IN-X2 Read 6 of phase two
Smith Richard Commander Read 6 of phase two
Papaleontiou Christian Mr Called 8 of phase two
Carr John Mr Called 8 of phase two
Stower Anthony (Tony) Mr Called 8 of phase two
Binford W Warren H Professor Read 8 of phase two

 

7. Restriction orders

On 23 March 2018, the Chair issued an updated restriction order under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 granting anonymity to all core participants who allege they are the victim and survivor of sexual offences (referred to as complainant core participants). The order prohibited:

  1. the disclosure or publication of any information that identifies, names or gives the address of a complainant who is a core participant; and
  2. the disclosure or publication of any still or moving image of a complainant core participant.

This order meant that any complainant core participant within this investigation was granted anonymity, unless they did not wish to remain anonymous. That order was amended on 7 March 2019, but only to vary the circumstances in which a complainant core participant may themselves disclose their own core participant status.[2]

On 7 March 2019, the Chair issued a restriction order under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 to protect the identity of IN-X1 and IN-X2 who established Dark Justice. The order prohibits the disclosure and publication of any information that identifies or tends to identify IN-X1 or IN-X2. The order does not prohibit disclosure of this information to the core participants in the Internet investigation, namely: the National Crime Agency (NCA), the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Home Office, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Metropolitan Police Service), the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), IN-A1, IN-A2 and IN-A3.[3]

In addition to the restriction orders granting anonymity to individuals whose identity has been redacted or ciphered by the Inquiry, the Chair issued a number of restriction orders to prohibit the disclosure and/or publication of evidence that was relevant to the proceedings but which had been assessed as being too sensitive to put into the public domain. The restriction orders relate predominantly to sensitive detection techniques deployed by law enforcement and industry.[4] Some of the evidence subject to these restriction orders was heard in private or ‘closed’ sessions.

8. Broadcasting

The Chair directed that the proceedings would be broadcast, as has occurred in respect of public hearings in other investigations.

9. Redactions and ciphering

The material obtained for this investigation was redacted and, where appropriate, ciphers were applied, in accordance with the Inquiry’s Protocol on Redaction of Documents (the Protocol).[5] This meant that (in accordance with Annex A of the Protocol), for example, absent specific consent to the contrary, the identities of complainants and victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and other children were redacted. If the Inquiry considered that their identity appeared to be sufficiently relevant to the investigation, a cipher was applied.

Pursuant to the Protocol, the identities of individuals convicted of child sexual abuse (including those who have accepted a police caution for offences related to child sexual abuse)­ were not generally redacted unless the naming of the individual would risk the identification of their victim, in which case a cipher would be applied.

The Protocol also addresses the position in respect of individuals accused, but not convicted, of child sexual or other physical abuse against a child, and provides that their identities should be redacted and a cipher applied. However, where the allegations against an individual are so widely known that redaction would serve no meaningful purpose (for example where the individual’s name has been published in the regulated media in connection with allegations of abuse), the Protocol provides that the Inquiry may decide not to redact their identity.

Finally, the Protocol recognises that, while the Inquiry will not distinguish as a matter of course between individuals who are known or believed to be deceased and those who are or are believed to be alive, the Inquiry may take the fact that an individual is deceased into account when considering whether or not to apply redactions in a particular instance.

The Protocol anticipates that it may be necessary for core participants to be aware of the identity of individuals whose identity has been redacted and in respect of whom a cipher has been applied, if the same is relevant to their interest in the investigation.

10. Warning letters

Rule 13 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 provides:

(1) The chairman may send a warning letter to any person –

a. he considers may be, or who has been, subject to criticism in the inquiry proceedings; or

b. about whom criticism may be inferred from evidence that has been given during the inquiry proceedings; or

c. who may be subject to criticism in the report, or any interim report.

(2) The recipient of a warning letter may disclose it to his recognised legal representative.

(3) The inquiry panel must not include any explicit or significant criticism of a person in the report, or in any interim report, unless –

a. the chairman has sent that person a warning letter; and

b. the person has been given a reasonable opportunity to respond to the warning letter.

In accordance with rule 13, warning letters were sent as appropriate to those who were covered by the provisions of rule 13, and the Chair and Panel considered the responses to those letters before finalising the report.

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