The accused have denied the allegations made against them from the very beginning and the fact that courts have found no basis to those allegations raises some important questions about the police investigation.

Gill Rutherford, the Thompsons lawyer who has represented the majority of people investigated and all 15 wrongly accused which have been taken to Court , called on the police to reflect on their handling of the investigation.

"If allegations are made against individuals they must of course be investigated. But the fact that the police investigation paid no heed to the overwhelming evidence that my clients were innocent raises serious doubts about the fairness of the way in which the investigation was conducted.

"I am of course extremely pleased to have been able to defend these clients and to have seen justice done and their names cleared. But the fact is that Operation Rose has not only caused needless suffering and distress to 15 innocent people and their extended families and friends which has impacted on their right to respect for private and family life, but has also been a scandalous waste of public money."