Guido Fawkes blogger defends publication of Motorman files

Paul Staines runs the Guido Fawkes political blog
Paul Staines runs the Guido Fawkes political blog
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A BLOGGER who published extracts from the files of a private detective who sold personal data to journalists was condemned as “irresponsible” by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Paul Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes political blog, today posted online the contents of a notebook seized from Steve Whittamore in an investigation called Operation Motorman.

The spreadsheet lists the name of the journalist making the request, the information they asked for, and in most cases the name of the target. It covers News International papers, including the now defunct News of the World.

Soap stars, comedians, politicians, Big Brother contestants and victims of crime are among those whose personal details were sold to reporters.

The details provided in response - including addresses and car registration numbers - have been blanked out of the document published by Mr Staines.

The Leveson Inquiry into press standards has heard that Information Commissioner’s Office investigators uncovered a “treasure trove” of evidence linking newspapers to the sale of private information when they searched Whittamore’s Hampshire home in March 2003.

Lord Justice Leveson last month rejected a request for him to release the full Motorman files with personal details redacted.

Mr Staines said he was publishing Whittamore’s “Blue Book”, containing 1,028 of the 17,000 entries in the private investigator’s papers, because there was an “overwhelming public interest” in the victims getting justice.

He wrote on his blog: “It seems to Guido that there is no political will to see this through, the press are by and large keen for their own reasons to suppress the truth and the judiciary are actively suppressing the evidence.

“In those circumstances it is only by bringing the evidence out into the open that justice will be done.”

An Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) spokeswoman said: “We strongly condemn the irresponsible publication of material from the Motorman files.

“Putting these into the public domain in this way is a serious violation of many people’s privacy and raises more questions than it answers.

“People who are concerned that their personal data may have been included in the Motorman files are able to contact the ICO via our website to make a ‘fast-tracked’ subject access request under the Data Protection Act (DPA).

“The issue of publication is being considered by the Leveson Inquiry and it’s most unfortunate that Guido Fawkes has chosen to jump the gun.

“The ICO will now consider what further steps it should take in the face of this apparent breach of the DPA.”

A spokesman for the Leveson Inquiry declined to comment.

Whittamore was charged in February 2004. He was convicted of illegally accessing data and received a conditional discharge at London’s Blackfriars Crown Court in April 2005.