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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Innocent man branded child abuser
News of the World has been criticised for its campaign
A man has been mistakenly accused of being a paedophile after a sex offender with the same name was identified in the News of the World newspaper.

Michael Horgan, 55, has been given police protection after letters branding him a child abuser were sent to 500 houses close to his home in south London.

He attacked the News of the World's campaign to "name and shame" paedophiles and said the paper should "take advice from the people... who know what they are doing."


This malicious letter has caused Mr Horgan and his family considerable distress

Steve Lamb, Lewisham police
The campaign follows the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.

In a statement, the News of the World has repeated its call for vigilance and not vigilantism.

The leaflets were sent by an unknown group called Antimatter and warned parents with children or those living near a school to be aware that a convicted child molester lived in the area.

The letters also listed Mr Horgan's home address.

'Malicious letter'

Mr Horgan said: "The police are treating it very seriously. At first I thought it was a hoax. My mother brought a letter in - she was in a state of shock."

In the letter, the group Antimatter said it provided "a service to the community".

Police are trying to trace the source of the letters.

Detective Inspector Steve Lamb of Lewisham CID said: "This malicious letter has caused Mr Horgan and his family considerable distress.

"It has taken up an enormous amount of police time in countering the allegation, and at considerable expense to the tax payer."

The police are monitoring the actual paedophile listed in the News of the World as a matter of routine.

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See also:

02 Aug 00 | Unions 2000
Paedophile warning over child carers
24 Jul 00 | UK
To name and shame
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