The Groucho Club is a well-known private members club located on Dean Street in London’s Soho.
Its members are mostly drawn from the publishing, media, entertainment and arts industries.
The Club is widely considered to be the original and first contemporary private club of its kind.
The club operates as two registered companies:
1) The Groucho Club Ltd
Company Number: 05836917
Formerly known as Newincco 553 Ltd
2) The Groucho London Club Ltd
Company Number: 01802099
Formerly known as Sandtern PLC
The Groucho Club forum was embrolied in a child-pornography scandal in 2010.
According to Presspoint:
” On the 10th of November 2010 it was discovered that an online member’s forum operating under the name of the Groucho Club forum was being used over a prolonged period of time by a network of paedophiles.
The forum contained hundreds of web pages and links to pornographic videos and images of young children and infants available for sex.
This discovery was made by award winning filmmaker and writer Tyrone D Murphy while investigating the sale of alcohol through the Groucho Club’s website for Chapter 13 of his book ‘The Groucho Gate Affair’.
The filmmaker immediately reported the discovery to the Metropolitan Police Service and to CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
The search terms on Google that led to the discovery of the child exploitation was ‘Site:thegrouchoclub.com’ and ‘Site:thegrouchoclub.co.uk’.
These search terms on Google will only list all the web pages within a specific domain. Murphy also discovered that the evidence of the offensive content was being deleted from the website forum, and the links on the Goggle listings were now forwarded to a home page of the Groucho Club’s own website.
However, the evidence was also stored on cache pages (snapshot) by the search engine Google of the Groucho Club forum and the illegal content.
Within a week of the report to the Police, Murphy discovered that the cache pages were now also being discreetly deleted. The preservation of the evidence at this stage was crucial to assist any criminal investigation and prosecute the offenders.
Murphy again contacted the Metropolitan Police Service and CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) several times by telephone and e mail as a matter of extreme urgency, and he relayed his concerns that the evidence was now being destroyed.
On the third of December Murphy discovered that the cache pages and links were still being deleted as almost all of the cache pages were now deleted and nothing appeared to have been done to preserve the evidence.
The filmmaker then wrote to the commander Simon Bray of the Metropolitan Police Service and to Peter Davies the chief executive of CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre). On the sixteenth December 2010 Mr Murphy received a reply from CEOP about his report.
The letter stated that Murphy’s report to CEOP was processed in accordance with CEOP standard operational procedure and forwarded to the Police for investigation.
The letter also stated that the Police have concluded their investigation into the matter and have decided to take no further action on this occasion.
Despite Murphy sending 24 emails, 4 letters and numerous telephone calls to the Police and CEOP, he was neither consulted nor interviewed by the Police about the forum.
Murphy said “This forum attracted the lowest form of individuals in society; the sheer scale of the illegal activity on the Groucho Club forum is overwhelming”.
On the fourth of January 2010 Murphy contacted the Groucho Club’s Managing Director Mr Matt Hobbs for a comment.
When Mr Hobbs was informed of the evidence, he stated
“I have no idea about any domain other than the www.thegrouchoclub.com which was the property of the club and have no knowledge of the domain www.thegrouchoclub.co.uk or the forum and the explicit content”.
Murphy asked Hobbs’s to search Google while they were on the telephone so Mr Hobbs could view the evidence for himself; Mr Hobbs refused. He stated to Murphy he was going to contact the Police. Murphy promptly informed him he had done so already months earlier.
Although Mr Matt Hobbs appeared clueless about the domain name www.thegrouchoclub.co.uk, Murphy contacted Nominet, the UK domain registry authority in relation to the domain name www.thegrouchoclub.co.uk.
He was informed by Nominet that the domain was registered on the 22 of July 2009 in the name of the Groucho Club Limited by the former Managing Director Margaret Levin.”
” Murphy, who won a libel action instigated against him by the Groucho Club has been writing a book about the Groucho Club for the past year and a half says “when you discover something so fundamentally wrong. So perverse you have a moral duty to put it right especially when the safety of children are concerned”
Isn’t it time the police looked again at the disturbing case of the Groucho Club forum?