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Tag: Operation Motorman

Lessons from Motorman, Part 4: Investigative Journalism and Conclusion – Julian Petley

TabloidsBut the ICO were not the only ones furious with Dacre and co over their lobbying against custodial penalties under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. Writing in the Guardian, 7 April 2008, the paper’s investigations editor David Leigh stated that: ‘Rarely has there been a more disgraceful behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign’ than the one outlined above. He continued: ‘Tabloid newspapers want the right to commit crimes with impunity …  And they have the brazenness to complain that this campaign is designed to protect “investigative journalism”’. Continue reading

Lessons from Motorman, Part 3, Government action and inaction – Julian Petley

ICO LogoNotwithstanding the representations of the PCC and others the proposal to toughen the sanctions for infringing the DPA were endorsed by the DCMS Committee, which stated that ‘we believe that sufficient safeguards exist to protect legitimate investigative journalism and do not believe that the introduction of custodial sentences for offences under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 would have the chilling effect claimed by the press”.  It also noted with approval the fact that the government had in February 2007 proposed to amend Section 60 of the DPA (via the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which was then going through Parliament) so as to introduce exactly the sanction recommended by the ICO. Continue reading

Lessons from Motorman, Part 1: Whittamore, the PCC and Operation Glade – Julian Petley

Motorman FilesIn March 2003, investigators from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), raided the offices of a private detective, Steve Whittamore.  As Tom Watson and Martin Hickman put it:  “They were amazed at what they discovered: Britain’s best-selling newspapers and magazines were driving a thriving black market in illegal data, requesting (and receiving) ex-directory numbers, car registration numbers, health records and criminal records. The targets ranged from glamorous actresses such as Elizabeth Hurley to the families of victims of newsworthy crimes, such as the parents of Holly Wells, a child murdered by the paedophile Ian Huntley at Soham, Cambridgeshire, in 2002. (28-9). Continue reading

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