Private investigators, public traps
Private investigators may be useful for obtaining vital evidence but they need to be carefully managed, warn Andrew Keltie and Nina Moffat of Baker & McKenzie. A salutary example is Hewlett-Packard – the world’s largest PC manufacturer was caught up in a scandal involving boardroom leaks and ‘pretexting’ – while London law firm Mischon de Reya experienced negative publicity following the case of Hughes v Carratu International plc  EWHC 1791.
Andrew Keltie (+44 (20) 7919 1376, andrew, email@example.com) is a partner and Nina Moffat is a trainee solicitor in the Business Crime Unit of Baker & McKenzie LLP, London.
Criminal sanctions under the Data Protection Act 1998
“Pretexting” is the practice of obtaining personal data, such as account information and credit reports, from organisations
under false pretences, often by impersonating the target individual. It is a criminal offence under
section 55 of the
Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) to unlawfully obtain personal data without proper consent. The concern for law firms and other employers of private
investigators is that criminal liability under this section extends to those instructing the investigators as they may be
considered to be a data controller under the DPA.
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