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Privacy: Law firm use of private investigators under spotlight

MPs have been handed a list of 102 clients of private investigators including several law firms and lawyers, who have benefitted from the use of illegal tactics in order to gain information, reports The Daily Mail.

The list was drawn up by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, SOCA, following a single investigation into the use of illegal methods by private investigators.

SOCA uncovered 102 clients in their investigation that are thought to have benefitted directly from information gained via illegal means. 

The information dossier has now been passed on to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, chaired by Labour MP Keith Vaz.

Although the list is currently classified as confidential, it is thought Mr Vaz has written to the director general of SOCA, Trevor Pearce, to ask why the list should not be made public.

It is thought the major concern is that the list represents the 'tip of the iceberg' and could result in a scandal on a similar scale to that of 'phone hacking', which continues to generate headlines years after it was initially unveiled.

The fact that law firms and lawyers seem to be the major beneficiaries of information gathered by illegal methods is likely to cause further scandal.

It is thought that other clients on the list include major blue chip companies.

In his letter, Mr Vaz hinted that despite being marked as classified, the document's contents could still be published as it would be in the public interest to do so.

"You must be aware that the companies and individuals detailed as part of your investigation impact on people's everyday lives and, therefore, there is a legitimate public interest," Mr Vaz wrote.


20 law firms paid rogue detectives to steal personal data: MPs now think scandal is 'worse than phone hacking' by the Press (The Daily Mail)