Thursday, 26 January 2012

Independent: 'Press faces new wave of legal action if Operation Motorman victims are named by ICO'

News organisations responsible for more than 17,000 dubious personal information checks carried out by a disgraced private detective could face civil litigation under plans to notify victims that they were targeted, the Independent reports today.

It says Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, is facing a legal challenge to release details of victims identified in Operation Motorman, the investigation into the activities of private eye Steve Whittamore, who was convicted of illegally accessing personal data in 2005.

The Independent adds: "Acting on legal advice, the campaign group Hacked Off has written to Mr Graham, demanding he inform the thousands of people who are listed in Whittamore files held by the Information Commissioner's Office as having been the targets of apparently illicit searches, including criminal-records checks, vehicle-registration inquiries and information 'blags'.

"Newspaper groups have in recent months been given access to the files by the ICO. In its letter, seen by the Independent, Hacked Off argues that targets should be notified so they have an opportunity to challenge claims by the news groups that the searches were done in the public interest."

The Independent claims: "If the ICO refuses to notify the people who were targeted by Whittamore, Hacked Off and its supporters will likely seek to have that decision subjected to judicial review."

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