A former recruitment consultant has been fined for unlawfully taking personal data from his employer when he left his job to set up his own rival business.

Daniel Short left the recruitment company he was working for, VetPro Recruitment, in October 2017 and a short time later set up his own similar company called VetSelect.

Once VetPro became aware of the new company, it began to have concerns about the integrity of the database it used to recruit vets and nurses, which contained the personal data of more than 16,000 people.

VetPro, based in Exminster near Exeter, contacted Short to ask if he had downloaded any of the information from the database and Short admitted he had taken some personal data, claiming it was for his own record of achievement.

The matter was reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and during an investigation it was discovered that Short had stolen the details of 272 individuals from VetPro’s database for commercial gain.

Short of Barnstaple Cross, Crediton, Devon, pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining personal data under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 when he appeared at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 21 May.

He was fined £355 and was ordered to pay costs of £700 as well as a victim surcharge of £35.

Mike Shaw, Criminal Investigations Manager at the ICO, said:

“Short thought he could get away with stealing from his old employer to launch his own company.

“Data Protection laws are there for a reason and the ICO will continue to take action against those who abuse their position.”

 

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
  5. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  6. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/