Pedophile Gang Harasses Vigilante
A vigilante in London whose efforts brought 28 sex offenders to justice is now reportedly being harassed by a pedophile gang. In this image, the social networking site Facebook is displayed on a laptop screen, in London, England, March 25, 2009. Getty Images/Dan Kitwood

A vigilante in London whose efforts brought 28 sex offenders to justice is now reportedly being harassed by a pedophile gang that is out to get revenge by portraying him as a child sex offender.

Thirty-eight-year-old Josh Blakely was forced to stop his work as a pedophile hunter after a six-month-long hate campaign, allegedly by pedophiles, through false social media profiles created using doctored images. Blakely, who is from West Kensington, London, was even afraid to step out of his own house for fear that someone would recognize him as a pedophile and a sex offender.

“People attack sex offenders in their society and people might think I am a sex offender if they see this online. It’s taken my identity away from me, it’s taken my freedom away from me. They control my life,” he said.

According to Blakely, members in the pedophile ring stole his pictures to create more than dozens of fake social media accounts, videos, photoshopped pictures and websites that showed him to be a pedophile as they feared he would target them next.

“They even posted up my home address and made threats to come and get me,” he said.

Blakely fear they might try to set him up next, making it look like he was trying to groom a child. They might use that as evidence for an arrest and possible imprisonment, which is "really scary for me,” he said.

Even after reporting the images, videos and social media pages multiple times, the ring continued to put up new Twitter profiles, YouTube accounts and LiveLeak videos that described him as a "nonce," a British slang for a sex offender, and a member of a child porn pedophile ring.

Even finding a job has become hard for Blakely as when a potential employer tries to Google him, “Sex offender” is the first thing that pops up.

“I became well-known and respect in the community through the good work we were doing catching these pedophiles,” he said. “However looking back, I think I left myself open to threat without realising it. I opened myself up to too much.”

Blakely used the name Public Justice PHL to hunt pedophiles. “I never did it to get famous and never got paid for what I did. I did it purely to ensure these kids got justice and to make sure these people weren’t out there doing this,” he said.

Blakely took the issue to the police but “they don’t take it very seriously.”

“[We] can confirm officers from Hammersmith and Fulham are investigating allegations of malicious communications via social media,” a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said. “The allegations were reported by the male victim on 25 Feb 2018. A number of inquiries are currently ongoing. The victim has been updated as to the status of the investigation and advised that allegations of this nature can take time to investigate. There have been no arrests.”

Google confirmed it had taken some action on the issue and was in contact with Blakely. He said Google could not remove some of the content due to “public interest.”

“They presumably think I am a sex offender,” Blakely said.

“There is no place for bullying or harassment on Facebook, which is why we have spent over a decade introducing new features and tools to keep people safe and have a positive experience,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We encourage Mr Blakely to continue reporting any incidents of trolling so we can remove content which violate our standards, as we have done previously.”