Data Protection Warning after Job Leaver’s Conviction

September 8, 2014

The ICO is warning employees that walking off with the personal information of their employer when changing jobs is a criminal offence.

The warning comes after a paralegal, who previously worked at Jordans Solicitors in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, was prosecuted for illegally taking the sensitive information of over 100 people before leaving for a rival firm in April 2013. The information was contained in six e-mails sent by James Pickles in the weeks before he left the firm. Pickles had hoped to use the information, which included workload lists, file notes and template documents but still contained sensitive personal data, in his new role.

Appearing at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court on 9 September, 29 year-old Pickles was prosecuted under the Data Protection Act 1998, s 55 and was fined £300 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £438.63 prosecution costs.

ICO Head of Enforcement, Stephen Eckersley, said:

‘Stealing personal information is a crime. The information contained in the documents taken by James Pickles included sensitive details relating to individuals involved in ongoing legal proceedings. He took this information without the permission of his former employer and has been rewarded with a day in court and a substantial fine. Employees may think work related documents that they have produced or worked on belong to them and so they are entitled to take them when they leave. But if they include people’s details, then taking them without permission is breaking the law. Don’t risk a day in court.’