Private detective who traded details of 3,213 workers for profit given 'wholly inadequate' penalty

Ian Kerr, the private detective who operated a blacklist of construction workers used by construction companies to vet staff, has been fined £5000.

The sentence, for breaching the data protection act, was handed down today at Knutsford Crown Court. Kerr will also have to pay £1,187 in costs.

It follows an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which found that Kerr held details on 3,213 construction workers and traded their personal details for profit.

The size of the fine will come as a surprise to many, who were expecting a harsher punishment. In May, magistrates decided against sentencing Kerr, insisting that the maximum fine of £5,000 they could impose was “wholly inadequate”.

Mark Gleeson, data protection expert at law firm Addleshaw Goddard said: "This judgment may well have come as a surprise to the construction workers who believe that they have been blacklisted and who would have hoped for a more severe penalty."

The ICO said it had written to 17 construction firms that paid Kerr for details on workers outlining that they unfairly obtained personal data and formal enforcement action would follow.

David Smith, Deputy Information Commissioner, said: “Ian Kerr colluded with construction firms for many years flouting the Data Protection Act and ignoring people’s privacy rights. Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity."