UK

Vaz wants rogue private investigators' client list by Monday

  • 3 September 2013
  • From the section UK
Man sitting at a computer
The clients were identified as part of an inquiry into private investigators

The Serious Organised Crime Agency has until Monday to publish the names of rogue private investigators' clients, Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz has said.

If it fails to do so, the committee will publish its own list.

Soca handed the names of 102 clients of investigators who used criminal methods to obtain information to the committee earlier this year - but has sought to keep them secret.

Mr Vaz said he had taken legal advice.

He said it was in the public interest to publish the names, which included law firms and celebrities.

"We know it has gone to the Met and we know they have removed the names that are subject to criminal investigation," he told Soca's director general and interim chairman at committee session.

"We give you till Monday to publish this list. If you fail to publish it on Monday, we will publish it because we think it is in the public interest to do so."

It comes after Soca refused to publish the client list and also ordered the Mr Vaz's committee to keep it secret.

List includes celebrities

The private investigators concerned were given jail sentences last year.

They specialised in illegally obtaining private information from organisations such as banks, utility companies and HM Revenue and Customs.

The clients were identified as part of Soca's Operation Millipede inquiry into private investigators and the practice of "blagging" - obtaining someone's personal information, such as their bank account details and medical history, by impersonating an official.

In July, the committee published a breakdown of the clients by company type but did not name them individually.

The list includes 22 law firms, financial services and insurance firms, accountants and two celebrities.

It also includes 16 private investigation agencies, suggesting they often subcontract work to each other.

Up to 100 individuals may have had their details accessed by the private investigators and 91 have been contacted, Soca's director general Trevor Pearce has said.

Mr Pearce and Soca's interim chairman Stephen Rimmer were appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

"The committee has taken the view that this list should be published. We would like you to publish the list. We see nothing wrong with you publishing the list," Mr Vaz told them.

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