Record Data Breach Fines Imposed

12th January 2018 Commercial

The Information Commissioner's Office has reported on the outcome of criminal prosecutions brought under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Woodgate & Clark, a firm of loss adjusters, was 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 firm and the private investigators themselves were also found guilty.

The case is part of a wider ongoing investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the ICO into alleged data protection offences involving 'blue chip' companies suspected of using the services of rogue private investigators.

JMW represented the victim, Michael Cookson, whose financial information the Jury decided was illegally accessed, in a civil claim against Woodgate & Clark and one of the private investigators involved, John Spears. We are unable to discuss the outcome of the civil claim for legal reasons.

The criminal proceedings are notable due to the level of fines imposed by Maidstone Crown Court. The fines collectively totalled £150,000 (across the various defendants).

It remains to be seen whether the ICO will bring prosecutions against other organisations and individuals arising from the wider investigation.

*Mr Cookson was represented in his civil claim by Nick McAleenan, Partner and Head of JMW's Data Privacy Team

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Nick McAleenan is a Partner located in Manchester in our Media & Reputation Management; Data Protection & Privacy department

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