The director of an accident claims company has been fined for inventing a crash in order to trace the owner of a number plate he wanted to buy.

Miles Savory, director at Bristol-based Accident Claims Handlers, was fined £335 and ordered to pay £364.08 in costs after admitting a charge of breaching the Data Protection Act at Bristol Magistrates’ Court, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said. Savory was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £33.

Savory had filed official forms to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in which he requested the identity of the owner of a 4x4 he claimed had been involved in a collision in Bristol. The vehicle had a private number plate reading W1 DOW.

The owner of the vehicle, who is from Huddersfield, subsequently received a letter from Savory offering to buy the plate.

Saying he had never visited Bristol the owner complained to the DVLA and an investigation revealed that Savory had used subterfuge to obtain the name and address.

According to a notice published by the ICO, police cameras confirmed the vehicle was not in the area at the time of the alleged crash. The DVLA reported the matter to the ICO.

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.’