London

Olympic Stadium: Men fined for spying on West Ham

Karen Brady
Image caption Karen Brady's mobile phone bills were accessed by a private investigator

Three men who spied on West Ham as the club was bidding to occupy the Olympic Stadium, have been fined.

Richard Forrest, Lee Stewart and Howard Hill admitted illegally obtaining confidential information from the club and Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC).

Forrest, 31, of Crawley, was ordered to pay £10,000, Stewart, 40, of Esher, has to give £13,250, while Hill, 59, of Stockport, was fined £100,000.

West Ham vice chairman Karen Brady was among 10 people targeted.

Apprentice star Ms Brady's mobile phone bills were accessed by a private investigator, prosecutor Mark Dennis QC told Southwark Crown Court.

Bogus email

He said the football executive was targeted after competing bidder Tottenham Hotspur commissioned accountancy firm PKF to examine the bidding process.

The court heard a man contacted Vodafone three times in February 2011 and claimed he had authority to access her mobile phone data.

Image caption Three men admitted to spying on West Ham and Olympic Park Legacy Company

Subsequently, copies of her bills from December 2010 to February 2011 were sent to a bogus email beginning with westhamunited151, which were passed on to Hill.

Dionne Knight, OPLC Olympic project director, was also spied on.

Stewart had obtained the name, date of birth and school of Ms Knight's daughter and sent the information to Hill, the court heard.

In July 2011, The Sunday Times published an article saying Ms Knight was in a relationship with Ian Tompkins, Olympic project manager at West Ham, during the bid process.

The article was "suggesting that certain payments made by West Ham to Knight at OPLC may have been improper", the prosecutor told the court, which Mr Dennis added was "subsequently shown to have been wholly wrong".

West Ham United was declared as the preferred bidder for the stadium in February 2011 by the OPLC.

West Ham's joint chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan, the mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and several prominent figures in the OPLC were also targeted by the trio.

'Devious strategies'

Judge Alistair McCreath, Recorder of Westminster, said Hill "had full control over this project" and had "engaged others to do your dirty work for you" for financial gain.

Addressing the trio, he said: "By various devious strategies you accessed emails, phone records, bank records and in one case details of where the child of one of your victims went to school.

"The birth certificate of that child was obtained. Surveillance was carried out. Credit reports were obtained.

"It hardly needs stating that you had no right to any of this information.

"What you did caused and continues to cause real harm to a significant number of people."

Hill had submitted invoices worth more than £120,000 to Tottenham.

Mr Dennis said the illegal activity caused "embarrassment and potential harm" to the club as it had asked Hill to "carry out a legitimate inquiry".

Forrest, of Furzefield in Crawley, Stewart, of More Lane in Esher, and Hill, of Shrigley Road South in Stockport, all admitted one charge of obtaining personal data contrary to Section 55 Data Protection Act 1998.

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