THE DIRECTOR of an accident claims firm has been convicted for reporting a fake crash to the government’s licensing agency in order to trace the owner of a rare number plate he wanted to buy.
Miles Savory, 40, a director at Accident Claims Handlers, based in Bristol, was fined more than £700 after filing official accident forms to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for a crash that never took place.
Bristol magistrates’ court heard that Savory had wanted to buy the number plate “W1 DOW”. He contacted the DVLA to report that a car with that registration had been involved in a collision on January 15 last year and had failed to stop, requesting the details of the owner.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which brought the case, said that Stephen Bastow, the owner of a 4×4 car with that number plate, was then contacted by Savory two months later with an offer to buy the number plate.
Mr Bastow contacted the DVLA to ask how his personal details had been obtained, as his car had not been involved in an accident and he had never visited Bristol.
Asaf Khan, prosecuting on behalf of the ICO, said: “The DVLA received a letter from Stephen Bastow, dated March 30, stating he had received a letter from Mr Miles Savory to see if he would sell his private registration plate, W1 DOW.
“Mr Bastow asked how Mr Savory had obtained his home address as his vehicle had not been involved in an accident. On receipt of his letter, [the DVLA found] an application for the details of the vehicle had been made by Mr Savory on behalf of Accident Claims.
“The DVLA made enquiries and discovered the information provided was not correct. The information was passed to the ICO to be investigated.”
Police confirmed that Mr Bastow’s vehicle had not been in the area of the alleged crash. Mr Bastow lived in Huddersfield, in Yorkshire.
Savory pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining Mr Bastow’s personal data. In mitigation his solicitor, Daniel Woodman, said: “Mr Savory is a man of impeccable character having never troubled the courts before.
“Conviction today means he loses that good character and that, in itself, is a form of punishment. My client is genuinely remorseful, very embarrassed and very sorry. He acted foolishly and thoughtlessly and has entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity.”
He was found to have breached the Data Protection Act and fined £335. He was also ordered to pay costs of £364.08 and a victim surcharge of £33 by Fiona Herlihy, the presiding magistrate, on Wednesday.
Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s head of enforcement, said: “This was an unusual case in many ways, but one which demonstrates the lengths some people will go to in order to get hold of personal information.
“Unlawfully obtaining people’s personal data is a criminal offence and the ICO will not hesitate to take action through the courts to uphold the law and protect people’s rights.”
This article first appeared in The Times