Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Information Commissioner's Office


  The Judge who found himself having to sentence the defendants in Operation GLADE, the case brought by the Metropolitan Police, could be said to have had his hands tied. He found himself having to deal with the implications of a previous sentence handed out to one of the defendants in the matter linked to that that was before him.

  In Operation GLADE, four individuals were charged. The lead (first) defendant was a former Metropolitan police civilian control room employee whose home had been searched during the course of the investigation into the misconduct offences which ultimately led to the pleas to Data Protection Act offences. During the course of that search a number of items of police property were found for which that individual faced theft allegations. This was the separate but connected trial that was referred to in paragraph 6.7 of What Price Privacy?. The trial of that matter took place prior to the Operation GLADE matter reaching court and was dealt with by a different Judge. The sentencing Judge in Operation GLADE had given an indication that he considered it to be appropriate that the theft sentencing be reserved to him to deal with at the conclusion of the misconduct/Data Protection offences in order to tie everything together.

  However the police civilian was sentenced by the trial Judge after the theft case and received a suspended prison sentence. It is important to note that suspended sentences are not given lightly and are only used in exceptional circumstances.

  This meant that when all four defendants in Operation GLADE came to be sentenced the Judge was effectively precluded from giving the police civilian (who had pleaded guilty to the misconduct offences and therefore could have been given a custodial sentence) a sentence which would impact upon the previously imposed suspended sentence. The ICO representative in court observing the proceedings had suspicions that the former police civilian worker had severe health problems which would make a custodial sentence inappropriate.

  As a result of having to deal with him in such a fashion the Judge had to sentence the remaining three defendants and their sentences had properly to reflect those given to the first defendant. In addition, in the course of their mitigation, the remaining three defendants advanced arguments in respect of their impoverished circumstances. Case law exists in respect of this which states that the level of fines must be linked to the ability of the offender to pay, and therefore the Judge was unable to levy significant financial penalties.

  Whilst the identity of Stephen Whittamore is a matter of public record in respect of his conviction at Blackfriars Crown Court in Operation GLADE he was not named in What Price Privacy as he had not been convicted in proceedings brought by the Information Commissioner and it was felt that to name him would have added nothing to the weight and substance of the report.

July 2007

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