Jack Doyle and Chris Brooke
August 6, 2013
- Public bodies spent nearly £4million on investigators over two years
- Comes as MPs demand publication of names of private firms using PIs
- Their use was NOT investigated by the Leveson Inquiry, despite warnings
Councils are using millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to hire private detectives for snooping operations.
Dozens of town halls, several quangos and even one central government department used the investigators to check on both members of the public and their own staff.
Officials spent nearly £4million in two years on covert surveillance, background checks and other intrusive investigations by private eyes.
The startling scale of the use of private eyes by state bodies came as it emerged investigators employed by a fire brigade fitted a GPS tracking device to the family car of a 999 call centre worker.
Anthea Orchard, 35, was put under investigation by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services who suspected her of moonlighting while on sick leave.
The private eyes they employed telephoned her with fake offers of work in an effort to lure her into a confession – but were rumbled when she traced their telephone number on the internet.
Mrs Orchard – who insists she has done nothing wrong and was not working illicitly – was also tipped off by neighbours who saw investigators acting suspiciously outside her Bradford home.
She has now left her job with an £11,000 payoff after agreeing not to sue the fire authority for ‘unnecessary surveillance’ and intrusion into her private life. Critics said the case exposed the worrying extent of state snooping by unregulated private investigators (PIs).
In recent weeks the so-called ‘secret’ hacking scandal has revealed how ‘shady’ private eyes employed by blue chip companies, law firms and celebrities hacked, blagged and stole private information.
MPs are demanding the publication of a list of 102 firms and private individuals who engaged corrupt private eyes which is being kept secret by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.