BitTorrent Admin Continues Fight Against Police Abuse

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At the beginning of 2011 two administrators of FileSoup – the longest standing BitTorrent community – had their case dropped by the authorities and were free men once again. But that was not the end of the story for one of the admins. In his quest for justice, Steve Lanning appealed the unsatisfactory police investigation by filing more than 50 complaints, and is claiming that the police are covering up many mistakes.

filesoupFounded in 2003, UK-based FileSoup is one of the original torrent sites. It outlived many of the sites that sprung up around the time and developed a great community in the years that followed.

The site never ran into any significant problems with copyright holders, but this quickly changed in the summer of 2009 when police and the Hollywood-backed Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) conducted a raid on the home address of the site’s owner Steve Lanning, known online as ‘TheGeeker’.

The arrest came as a total surprise to Lanning, who felt that the police didn’t follow the rules as they should have. In addition to blindly acting on biased information provided to them by a self-interested anti-piracy group, Lanning summed up a total 56 complaints which he filed at the complaints commission late August 2009, shortly after his arrest.

Earlier this year the authorities dropped Lanning’s case (and the case of a fellow admin) because the evidence was solely provided by FACT and thus unreliable. While this was a huge relief and a welcome victory for Lanning, he was still waiting for a response to the 56 complaints filed earlier.

A few weeks ago he finally heard back from the police investigator, but it was by no means the response hoped for by Lanning. In a brief reply the police investigator reduced the 56 complaints down to just 3, and only in one case did the police admit a mistake was made.

“Mr Lanning was not given the right to telephone someone after the restriction had been lifted. The Sergeant in question will receive management action which will be in the form of words of advice from his line manager,” the police investigator writes.

Needless to say, Lanning wasn’t too happy with the fact that the other 53 complaints were simply ignored. He says he has evidence to back up every single complaint but for some reason the police investigator didn’t even consider them.

“There are no words that can adequately describe exactly how I am feeling right now, they have blatantly lied, and as if that isn’t bad enough, they have ignored the evidence which proves all of my complaints against them …and we are supposed to trust the police? Is this what people can expect of our justice system? Unbelievable!” Lanning told TorrentFreak in a comment.

Lanning’s complaints

After giving it some thought Lanning has now decided to fight the result of the police investigation, hoping that they will then take a closer look at the complaints. He has filed an appeal with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

“I am following through with this as a matter of principle, what they have done and the way they have done it is reprehensible, the police being used and manipulated by a private organisation for their own ends is totally wrong in so many ways,” Lanning told us.

“The police failed to follow their own policies and procedures as set out in the Police And Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), they abused their authority and the legal system, not only that, the way I was treated and the way I now feel, they violated any trust I might have had in them, everyone should be appalled, it could be you next time!”

“What makes this whole situation even worse is that they are now lying to try and cover this whole fiasco up. I have evidence proving that they lied, they also have evidence proving they are lying, hmmm… what do you reckon on the chances of them mysteriously losing or erasing that evidence all of a sudden?” FileSoup’s owner said.

Some might wonder why Lanning would continue to follow this up even though his case was dropped earlier this year. He is a free man now and no longer at risk of being prosecuted for his involvement with FileSoup. Lanning, however, wants to see the police admit their alleged wrongdoings.

The arrest, the police investigation and the court case made a huge impact on the BitTorrent admin’s personal life. Many of his belongings taken during the raid were trashed or never returned, but the emotional roller-coaster and the failed attempts to have his many complaints heard have also taken their toll.

“I am after justice, it’s plain and simple, those who have done wrong need to be held accountable and those wrongs put right, the system needs to be changed drastically and things put in place to avoid this happening again in the future,” Lanning said.

“It’s about time that somebody physically makes a stand for their principles to stop this type of abuse from happening, if that someone has to be me, well then so be it.”


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