No evidence against man in child porn inquiry who 'killed himself'

The Navy suspended Commodore David White, commander of British forces in Gibraltar, after police placed him under investigation over allegations that he bought pornographic images from a website in the US. Within 24 hours he was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Mount Barbary.

The inquest into his death heard that computer equipment and a camera memory chip belonging to Commodore White had yielded no evidence that he downloaded child pornography, and a letter was written by Ministry of Defence police to Naval Command on 5 January this year indicating that there were "no substantive criminal offences" to warrant pressing charges. But the Second Sea Lord, Sir James Burnell-Nugent, feared that the media would report the case and on 7 January removed him from his post anyway.

Despite accepting the news in a "steady fashion", the commodore was dead the next day. His brother Rupert told the inquest that the news of his removal had caused his "mental collapse", and that he was in "a state of catatonic shock".

The head of the Royal Navy, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, expressed his "deep regret" over Commodore White's death yesterday, after the inquest recorded an open verdict.

The coroner, Charles Pitto, said there was insufficient evidence to conclude whether the commodore's death was accidental or suicide. If it was suicide, it would have taken to 34 the total number of people who have killed themselves after being identified as suspects by Operation Ore, Britain's biggest child-sex probe. The nationwide police investigation was launched three years ago after a list of 7,200 British suspects was handed to British police by US authorities. The men on the list are accused of using credit cards to pay for child porn through Landslide, a sex website that operated in Texas from 1996-99.

The results have seemed impressive. Nearly 4,000 people have been arrested, some 1,600 have been charged and 1,200 convicted. But the operation has placed some apparently innocent individuals under suspicion. In one case at Hull Crown Court last year, a distinguished hospital consultant was acquitted after it emerged that hackers had used his credit card on Landslide. The judge dismissed some police evidence as "utter nonsense".

Robert Del Naja, frontman of the group Massive Attack, was also wrongly accused of downloading child pornography. His arrest in 2003 was leaked to the media, but the case was dropped. The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, the most high-profile name to emerge so far from the Ore list, was not charged because he had not downloaded any pictures, and said he had been doing research for a book about child abuse.

The inquest heard Commodore White had reached the peak of his military career. During the 1990s he was on the military staff at Nato HQ in Brussels and was promoted to Captain in 1997, when he became the assistant director for naval operations during the Kosovo conflict. In 2001, he was appointed captain of the Second Submarine Squadron, and was in charge of Trafalgar class submarines. He never married, but was seen as very sociable.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?