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Blacklister pleads guilty for data protection breach

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has welcomed the guilty plea by the private detective accused of running a blacklist of construction workers.

Ian Kerr will now be sentenced at crown court after pleading guilty to offences under the Data Protection Act and could face an unlimited fine.

Speaking after the hearing at Macclesfield Magistrates' Court, assistant information commissioner said Mick Gorrill said : “Ian Kerr colluded with construction firms for many years flouting the Data Protection Act and ignoring thousands of people’s privacy rights.

“Holding personal information on individuals without their knowledge, in these circumstances, is a serious breach of the Data Protection Act.

“Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity. Following Kerr’s guilty plea, we are pleased that the case has been referred to the Crown Court.”

Earlier Amina Khan, prosecuting for the ICO, told the court that Kerr had charged firms an annual fee of £3,000 to subscribe to the service and £2.20 to access the details of named individuals.

She said: 'He collated and provided information to construction companies in relation to individuals that were working for them or seeking employment.'

Blacklisting is not illegal at the moment – although the Government has promised to tighten up the law. Instead Kerr was prosecuted for a criminal breach of data protection regulations by failing to register with the Information Commission.