A former company director has been fined for illegally obtaining people’s personal data and selling it to solicitors chasing personal injury claims. David Cullen, from Manchester, was also issued with a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

But the court is unable at the moment to recover the £1.4m he made from illegal activities due to Cullen’s lack of assets.

Cullen was the managing director of No1 Accident Claims Limited, based in Manchester, from 2010 until the company was liquidated in 2012. The business profited from selling illegally obtained personal data to solicitors. The data, relating to people who had been in road accidents, could then be used to pursue personal injury claims.

Appearing before Manchester Crown Court last week, Cullen was fined £1,050 and ordered to pay £250 costs. He was disqualified from being a company director for five years and an order was made for the forfeiture and destruction of computer devices seized under a search warrant in 2012. 

Following sentencing, confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 commenced. The exact figure which Cullen is believed to have benefited from during his illegal activities is £1,434,679 but the court proceeded by making a £1 nominal order. Cullen’s financial circumstances will be regularly reviewed, and should they improve, the amount of the confiscation order can be increased.

Michael Shaw, group manager of enforcement at the Information Commissioner's Office, said: 'The volume of confidential personal information found in Cullen’s possession showed his blatant disregard of people’s right to privacy and our data protection laws.'

Cullen pleaded guilty to 21 charges of unlawfully obtaining and selling personal data in breach of section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998, when he appeared before Manchester City & Salford Magistrates Court in September 2018.

The case comes days after the ICO said it had raided two premises in Liverpool as part of a separate investigation into data collected for sale to law firms.