Paedophile campaign blamed for arson attack

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The Independent Online

Police believe an arson attack on a flat in Norwich, forcing an innocent family to flee unharmed, is linked to the News of the World's "naming and shaming" campaign against paedophiles.

Police believe an arson attack on a flat in Norwich, forcing an innocent family to flee unharmed, is linked to the News of the World's "naming and shaming" campaign against paedophiles.

A father and his three children escaped the attack on their home after burning paper was pushed through a downstairs window as they slept. Police believe it was aimed at a now-imprisoned paedophile who previously lived in the flat.

The father was able to get his children - all aged under three years - out of the flat unhurt as the property began to fill with smoke in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The property had previously been owned by Roy Reynolds, a sex offender who has been in prison since November 1998.

Reynolds, who was not among those named in the News of the World's recent campaign to name and shame child sex offenders, was jailed for life for a series of assaults on young boys dating back to 1970. His address is thought to have been published in a local newspaper at the time of his conviction.

Inspector Brian Pincher, of Norwich police, said: "Someone may well have set fire to the flat thinking Mr Reynolds was there. He wasn't.

"This is clearly a case where something tragic could have happened to a father and three young children and we could have been dealing with four deaths. It is possible someone was taking vigilante action against Reynolds, but it could have resulted in the murder of a family."

The attack came as it was revealed that the Government is poised to introduce new powers for the police to help them keep track of paedophiles. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, is expected to announce a series of powers later this month, which could allow police to photograph and question people on the sex offenders' register.

They may even be granted the power to enter their homes and search their properties though the Government is expected to stop short of introducing a so-called Sarah's Law, which would make public the names and addresses of sex offenders. Demand for such a law has grown since the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.

Mike O'Brien, a Home Office minister, yesterday told GMTV: "We are looking at very tough police powers to deal with paedophiles.

"We are looking at the detail of the review that we've already announced into the sexual offences legislation, and we will be announcing in due course that we will move forward to deal with the public concern, that we need to have a very tough line to protect children. We will protect children against paedophiles."

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