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Information Commissioner's Office publishes list of newspapers and magazines involved in the Operation Motorman scandal

The Information Commissioner's Office has now published an updated report entitled What Price Privacy Now ? (.pdf). Apart from adducing testimony from various trades bodies about the ICO proposal to increase the penalty under section 55 of the Data protection Act, to a criminal one of up to 2 years in prison, rather than the paltry fines, levied now, the report also reveals the names of the most active newspapers and magazines involved in the Operation Motorman case:

PublicationNumber of transactionsNumber of journalists / clients positively identified using services
Daily Mail 952 58
Sunday People 802 50
Daily Mirror 681 45
Mail on Sunday 266 33
News of the World 182 19
Sunday Mirror 143 25
Best Magazine 134 20
Evening Standard 130 1
The Observer 103 4
Daily Sport 62 4
Sunday Times 52 7
The People 37 19
Daily Express 36 7
Weekend Magazine (Daily Mail) 30 4
Sunday Express 29 8
The Sun 24 4
Closer Magazine 22 5
Sunday Sport 15 1
Night and Day (Mail on Sunday) 9 2
Sunday Business News 8 1
Daily Record 7 2
Saturday (Express) 7 1
Sunday Mirror Magazine 6 1
Real Magazine 4 1
Woman’s Own 4 2
Daily Mirror Magazine 3 2
Mail in Ireland 3 1
Daily Star 2 4
Marie Claire 2 1
Personal Magazine 1 1
Sunday World 1 1

N.B. This table only refers to one firm of private investigators, in the period between 2000 and 2003. Other firms may have been used to different extents by these publications, and by those which do not appear on this list.

Why are the likes of Woman's Own or Marie Claire magazines, employing private investigators to illegally gather personal data ?

It seems that the 4 conspirators in this Operation Motorman case (the ICO's investigation into the Data Protection Act offences) and the related Operation Glade (the Police investigation into the Police National Computer offences) were charged and convicted in April 2005, but they were not even fined, let alone sent to prison, and were instead given a 2 year conditional discharge, according to this not very prominent report in The Guardian:

What would you consider to be a fair punishment for possibly 11,000 breaches of the Data Protection Act, and the circumvention of the security of the Police National Computer ? 10 years in prison perhaps ?

Police data sold to newspapers

Claire Cozens and Chris Tryhorn
Saturday April 16, 2005
The Guardian

Two national newspapers paid to receive confidential information from the police national computer, a court heard yesterday.

Articles from the Sunday Mirror and the Mail on Sunday were used in evidence against two former police employees and two private investigators charged with offences involving the sale of police information to the press.

The court was told that Stephen Whittamore, a 56-year-old private investigator with links to the national press, provided "very personal and confidential details" about a series of high-profile figures, including the EastEnders actors Charlie Brooks and Jessie Wallace; Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union; and Clifton Tomlinson, son of the actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Riel Karmy-Jones, prosecuting, told Blackfriars crown court in central London that Mr Whittamore had received the information "through a chain" made up of the three other defendants: the private investigator John Boyall, 52; Alan King, a 59-year-old retired police officer; and Paul Marshall, 39, a former civilian communications officer who was based at Tooting police station in London.

See also the The Independent's original report of the Operation Glade arrests on 2003 of 3 of the 4 conspirators: "The detectives, aged 51 and 54, were arrested at their homes, in New Milton, Hampshire, and Caterham, Surrey" and the "38-year-old member of the Metropolitan Police civil staff, who worked in Wandsworth, west London, was arrested at his home in south London"

Mr Marshall and Mr King both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, while Mr Whittamore and Mr Boyall pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of breaching the Data Protection Act. All four were given a two-year conditional discharge.
A 2 year conditional discharge i.e. no fine and no prison sentence, for possibly 11,000 breaches of the Data Protection Act and for breaching the security of the Police National Computer, for profit, sends the wrong signal entirely The Information Commissioner does not seem to be planing to prosecute any of the 305 journalists or their newspaper employers , or the other law firms and Local Authority customers, "in the public interest". .

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