Abuser named by paper held after going to ground

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The Independent Online

A convicted paedophile who went to ground after being identified in the News of the World's campaign to "name and shame" was yesterday arrested on Tenerife.

A convicted paedophile who went to ground after being identified in the News of the World's campaign to "name and shame" was yesterday arrested on Tenerife.

Earlier this week, Cleveland Police criticised the newspaper for its crusade, which was launched after the murder of Sarah Payne. They said it would jeopardise their attempts to arrest and extradite Stephen Glen Featherstone, who they have been trying to trace for several months.

Yesterday detectives repeated their criticism that the campaign would drive paedophiles into hiding and give rise to groups of vigilantes. They claimed that Featherstone, who was working in a bar on the Spanish island, only left his job after he was made aware of the campaign.

Inspector Shane Sellers, of Cleveland's Child Protection Unit, said: "We knew where he was and the protracted legal process to get him back to Teesside was ongoing.

"It is my view that our whole operation was endangered by this newspaper. Featherstone quit his job on Monday and was preparing to flee to a new haven where he would undoubtedly have been a danger to children.

"He could easily have set up a new identity and been free to prey on more victims until the law caught up with him again."

Featherstone, formerly ofBillingham, Teesside, had been on the run since being convicted at Teesside Crown Court last November of six counts of indecent assaults against two girls under the age of 16.

The former swimming instructor, known as Glen, was ordered to be put on the sex offenders' register and should have answered bail last December for sentencing.

Featherstone had been traced to his hideaway after months of searching when his picture was published against the wishes of Cleveland Police.

The News of the World said in a statement that it rejected any claim that it had jeopardised a police operation. "On the contrary, the fugitive Stephen Featherstone, who had been sought since December 1999, was apprehended as a direct result of our report, two days after we published his picture and details."

Despite the paper's determination to continue its campaign - and as The Mirror announced its support - there were more calls for it to be scrapped yesterday. Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham, said the paper was creating new victims without protecting children.

Her remarks came as police began investigating a hate-mail campaign accusing an innocent man of being a paedophile after a sex offender with the same name was identified in the paper.

Michael Horgan and his family, from Brockley, south London, are in police protection and receiving hourly check-up calls.

Five hundred homes close to the 55-year-old RAC patrolman's home received a letter on Wednesday warning them to be on their guard because he was a twice-convicted child molester.

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