Thursday 26 January 2012

IC: It would be 'phenomenal undertaking' to contact all those named in the Motorman files

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told the Leveson Inquiry today it would be a "phenomenal undertaking" to contact all those named in the Operation Motorman files as having been targets of private investigators acting for newspapers.

But he said individuals were able to make legal access requests for information.

Graham told Leveson that some of the information covered by Operation Motorman was "deeply obscure" and not everyone named was a famous celebrity.

Campaign group Hacked Off had written to Graham asking him to inform the thousands of people who are listed in the Operation Motorman 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'. (See post below)

The Hacked Off letter to Graham says: "We are writing to ask you to take steps to notify those who were subjects of data-mining by the national press where you are in possession of such knowledge by virtue of the information that you obtained in Operation Motorman. Such individuals should be told that information had been sought on them, possibly illegally; what information that was; and who (newspaper and journalist) procured it."

Graham told Leveson that a number of individuals have had access to the Motorman files as a result of court orders and "subject access requests" could be made via lawyers.

He suggested that to contact some people named in the files but about whom there was very little detail could be a greater breach of privacy because people would think "there's no smoke without fire".

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