Rogue investigators guilty of data breaches
14 December 2017
A FIRM of loss adjusters has been found guilty of unlawfully disclosing personal data illegally obtained by senior members of their staff and private investigators.
A director and senior employee of the Kent-based firm, Woodgate and Clark Ltd, and the private investigators themselves have also been found guilty.
A jury at Maidstone Crown Court returned 15 guilty verdicts yesterday in relation to the charges, brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The case is part of a wider ongoing investigation by the ICO into alleged data protection offences involving corporate clients suspected of using the services of rogue private investigators.
The jury convicted the two private investigators of unlawfully obtaining a person’s financial information, including details of their banking transactions, and disclosing it to Woodgate and Clark Ltd, which then disclosed it to an insurer client.
The ICO brought charges relating to breaches of section 55 of the Data Protection Act, for which the following verdicts were returned:
- Private investigator Daniel Summers (convicted in his absence) – two charges of unlawful obtaining of personal data x2: Guilty, Unlawful disclosing of personal data x2: Guilty;
- Private investigator Adam John Spears- Unlawful obtaining of personal data x2: Guilty, Unlawful disclosing of personal data x2: Guilty;
- Colum Tudball, senior loss adjuster at Woodgate and Clark – Unlawful obtaining of personal data x2: Guilty;
- Michael Woodgate, director at Woodgate and Clark – Unlawful obtaining of personal data x2: One not guilty and one guilty verdict, unlawful disclosing of personal data x2: Guilty;
- Woodgate and Clark Ltd – Unlawful obtaining of personal data x2: Not guilty, unlawful disclosing of personal data x2: Guilty
The defendants have been ordered to serve financial means by 22 December, with sentencing due on 5 January 2018.
The ICO’s investigation started in 2013 after the Serious Organised Crime Agency handed it a list of ‘blue chip’ clients of criminal private investigators.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “This case is a strand of an important ICO investigation that our team has put a great deal of work into and we welcome the verdict.
“The illegal trade in confidential personal information threatens people’s privacy and security and it’s right that the actions of those involved should be punished.”