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Thursday, January 7, 1999 Published at 22:51 GMT


Eight in court over Internet porn

Over 40 people were arrested during "Operation Cathedral"

Eight men have appeared in court following a worldwide investigation into an alleged Internet paedophile ring.

The eight were charged with conspiring to distribute indecent images of children.

The men were charged after a British led operation, known as "Operation Cathedral", in 12 countries last September against alleged members of the "Wonderland Club".

[ image: Police are considering whether to publish images to find children]
Police are considering whether to publish images to find children
Those appearing at Hastings magistrates' court on Thursday were: Ahmed Ali, 28, a taxi driver from London; Ian Baldock, 28, a computer consultant from St Leonards, East Sussex; Andrew Barlow, 23, unemployed, of Bletchley in Milton Keynes; Gavin Seagers, 27, a computer consultant from Dartford, Kent.

Also appearing in court were: Antoni Skinner, 34, a computer consultant from Cheltenham; Frederick Stephens, 44, a taxi driver from Hayes, Middlesex; David Hines, 28, unemployed, from Bognor Regis in West Sussex; and Steven Ellis, 40, unemployed, from Norwich.

The men were remanded on conditional bail until 5 March. A ninth man, a computer consultant from Maidenhead, is due to appear before Maidenhead magistrates on charges of possession and distribution of indecent images of children on 12 January.

Police still searching for victims

Detectives are still trying to trace the children appearing in the pictures which were distributed over the Internet.

So far none has been located and police say it is impossible to say where in the world the images might have come from.

They are still considering whether to publish some of the images in a bid to track down the children, who could be in need of help. However, a decision has yet to be made.

During Operation Cathedral more than 40 people were arrested on 2 September in the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United States.

It was the biggest international investigation led by UK officers, who seized computer equipment, 750,000 computer images of children and 200 computerised videos.

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