Six men have been sentenced for conspiring to breach the Data Protection Act while working for a private investigation firm which tricked other organisations into revealing personal details about their customers.
Adrian Stanton, 40 and Barry Spencer, 41, ran ICU Investigations Ltd in Feltham, Middlesex. The pair were convicted last November for routinely fooling organisations such as utility companies, GP surgeries and TV Licensing into revealing personal data about individuals they were trying to track down.
Allianz Insurance, Brighton & Hove City Council, Leeds Building Society and Dee Valley Water were among the organisations that were duped by ICU, with nearly 2,000 separate offences recorded between 1 April 2009 to 12 May 2010.
Stanton was fined a total of £7,500 and £6,107 prosecution costs while Spencer is being sentenced as a separate defendant on 4 April 2014. Five employees of the firm who had already pleaded guilty to the charges have also been fined at Isleworth Crown Court.
"Private investigators must learn they are not above the law. While the majority of private investigators go about their business in an honest manner, unscrupulous operators such as ICU Investigations Ltd taint the industry and blight the reputations of their counterparts," said Damian Moran, criminal investigations team manager at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
"These men knew they were breaking the law, but did so anyway, presumably confident they would not be caught. That faith was misplaced, and they and their employees will now face the consequences of their actions."