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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Campaign warns against net paedophiles
Paedophiles are using the internet to lure young people
Children's charity the NSPCC has launched a campaign aimed at protecting children from coming into contact with paedophiles via internet chatrooms.

The safety initiative, launched by television presenter Carol Vorderman on Tuesday, includes an appeal to the government to fund a public awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of the internet for children.

The government is moving in the right direction to make the internet safer

Mary Marsh, NSPCC
Ms Vorderman said: "The abuse of children via the internet is a real and growing threat. It's time to tighten the Net."

During the launch, the Countdown star also revealed she was asked to give an introduction to an anti-paedophile campaign video for the spoof Brass Eye documentary.

She said she declined to get involved in the project which hoaxed fellow stars such as Phil Collins and Phillipa Forrester.

Wonderland case

Ms Vorderman said the NSPCC campaign was sparked by the case of seven British paedophiles, members of the "Wonderland Club", jailed in February for trading horrific images of child pornography.

She said: "Earlier this year, we were shocked by the so-called Wonderland Club, three of whom will be released from prison this summer.

"This case brought to light the real tragedy behind the use of the internet to trade pornographic images of children."
Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman is heading the NSPCC campaign

Ms Vorderman, a member of the government task force for child protection on the internet, said she wanted changes to the law to safeguard children online.

She called for more resources for police, extra training for the judiciary and more emphasis on what the internet industry should do in terms of self-regulation, such as warnings in chatrooms.

The NSPCC wants 50,000 campaigners to send postcards to Home Secretary David Blunkett calling for funds for a public awareness campaign about the dangers lurking in cyberspace.

The charity wants a kitemark scheme providing parents with advice about internet service providers and the level of access they offer to pornographic sites.

It is also pressuring the industry to sell personal computers with child safety software pre-installed.

NSPCC chief executive Mary Marsh said: "The government is moving in the right direction to make the internet safer.

"We would like to see the government honour its election pledge 'to make Britain the safest country for children to access the internet'."

Brass Eye controversy

Ms Vorderman said the controversial Brass Eye spoof of media coverage of paedophiles, which sparked a raft of complaints, had made "some valid points".

"However, there were scenes in it which weren't about puncturing egos or mimicking what goes on in other TV documentaries," she added.

I reserve my wrath for paedophiles not Chris Morris

Carol Vorderman

"The only people who would have been bruised by these scenes were the abused themselves and I don't call that satire."

"But I reserve my wrath for paedophiles not Chris Morris," she added.

Ms Vorderman also disclosed that several years ago Countdown producers had unwittingly recorded an episode with a convicted sex offender.

The victim contacted Channel 4 after reading in her local paper that he was to appear on the programme.

She said: "The bosses refused to broadcast it and quite rightly so. That programme should not have been shown."

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10 Jul 01 | Entertainment
Street star highlights net risks
01 Feb 01 | Wales
Boy cleared of net 'rape'
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