Investigator falls foul of data law

Alison Laferia reports

In the first case of its kind, the Data Protection Registrar has brought a successful prosecution for unlawfully obtaining and selling personal data.

The case concerned a part-time private investigator who was convicted last month of procuring the disclosure of personal data and selling the information in contravention of the Data Protection Act.

The investigator was paid by a client to obtain the name and address of the registered keeper of a motor vehicle, which he did by requesting the information on a false pretext from the Driver and Licensing Agency.

He pleaded guilty at Woodspring Magistrates Court in Weston-Super-Mare and was ordered to pay £500 for procuring the information, £1,000 for selling it and £500 in costs.

This is the first time the registrar, Elizabeth France, has brought a prosecution for these offences.

She said: "This is an important case which shows it is possible for me to take action against those who use deception to obtain personal information to which they are not entitled."