Jason Sugarman QC leading Stephen Ferguson of 2 Bedford Row instructed by Gary Bloxsome, Co-Head of Dispute Resolution and Jennifer Richardson of Blackfords LLP were instructed to act for the former Managing Director of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The case was originally listed at Warwick Crown Court for two months but the prosecution offered no evidence on the second day of the trial.
The case concerned an historic lifestyle report commissioned into an employee over 10 years ago. The report by an independent private investigator was alleged to have breached s. 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. Jason Sugarman QC and his team with the assistance of an expert witness Rod Stone OBE managed to re-construct, from previously created civil litigation documentation, a report that showed that multi-million pound frauds were being committed against the company involving off shore companies in Panama and bank accounts in Switzerland and Dubai at the same time that the life style report was commissioned .Thus providing a statutory defence to our client that the obtaining of the data was necessary for the detection or prevention of crime. Despite this overwhelming evidence presented to the ICO they still pressed ahead with the case.
There was disagreement between the prosecution and the defence as to the true construction of section 55 (a) and (d) in the Act: namely, whether the obtaining of said data was necessary for the detection or prevention of crime, or in the public interest. The defence teams (the company and individual) mounted a legal argument that the construction of a statutory ‘defence’ in section 55 of the Act must be an objective, not subjective, test, with retrospective knowledge being allowed.
The judge held that the test was indeed objective.
The Judges finding in favour of the defence submissions led to the ICO offering no evidence on the second day of trial.
Further exceptionally other defendants in the case who had been advised to plead guilty by their own defence teams were to be contacted by the ICO to change their Guilty pleas back to Not Guilty pleas whereupon no evidence would be offered against those defendants.