Woodgate & Clark: Unlawful Disclosures of Illegally Obtained Personal Data.

By Philip Brining

In December 2017, at Maidstone Crown Court, a jury returned 15 guilty verdicts after the ICO prosecuted four individuals in connection with the unlawful disclosure of personal data which was obtained illegally by senior employees of Woodgate & Clark Limited, a firm of loss adjusters, and two private investigators. Director Michael Woodgate, senior staff member Colum Tudball and private investigators Adam John Spears and Daniel Summers, were all sentenced to financial penalties along with Woodgate & Clark themselves being fined the sum of £50,000. The case related to a claim made on an insurance policy in relation to a fire at business premises in Lancashire in 2004. The private investigators were deemed to have unlawfully obtained confidential financial information, including details of the claimants banking transactions, and disclosed it to Woodgate and Clark, which then disclosed it to an insurer client without permission. The defendants were prosecuted under s55 of the Data Protection Act 1998, the fines and costs that they were ordered to pay totalled a whopping £267,500.

What was interesting about the fines and costs, was the variation in amounts that each defendant was ordered to pay. Perhaps as expected, Michael Woodgate was subject to the biggest fine and compensation costs probably because he was a Director at Woodgate & Clark, however the two private investigators were ordered to pay a considerably different amount. Daniel Summers, who was convicted in his absence of two charges of unlawfully obtaining personal data and two counts of unlawfully disclosing personal data had to fork out a total of £40,000. Whereas Adam John Spears, who did attend the hearing, was ordered to pay £12,500 for the same convictions as Summers.

These convictions and the fines imposed are a prime example of the ICO’s no nonsense approach, and it will be interesting to see if the increased penalties that they can impose under the GDPR will see a decrease in this type of activity, and even higher fines being handed out to anyone who dares to risk getting caught.

Contact Us

Send us a Message

    We would like to use your contact information to send you marketing and promotional materials and special offers by email from time to time. We may only send information to you in this way with your consent. Please indicate whether you consent to us contacting you in this way for those purposes. You may withdraw your consent at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in our emails.

    We are always happy to make contact with you by either phone, email or a face to face meeting at our office or yours. We work standard UK office hours – every week day 0830 to 1730.


    We have been receiving complaints over the last few weeks from people who have received unsolicited direct marketing calls from a company called The Protection People.  We should like to point out that we are Data Protection People and have nothing to do with those calls.

    We have been advising those people who have contacted us that they should make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) using this link https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/.  It would be helpful to the ICO if you knew the number that called you, the date and time of the call and what the call seemed to be about.

    You might also want to register your phone number with the telephone preference service (TPS), a national suppression service which should cut down calls of this nature as it is not lawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to numbers registered on the TPS.  You can register your number here https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/register.

    We know that these kind of calls can be distressing and intrusive and you have our sympathy.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss it with us otherwise we’d encourage you to report it to the ICO as notifying them of this kind of practice enables them to investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.  You can see the action that has been taken by the ICO here https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/enforcement/.

    Data Protection People Limited – March 2021