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File-sharing lawyer "not likely" to pay £800 ICO fine


By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 6 Jul 2011 at 17:13

A file-sharing law firm has managed to avoid paying a massively reduced fine after leaking an email database.

ACS Law sent letters demanding settlements of as much as £500 to accused file-sharers, gaining the attention of hackers who targeted the law firm's website in retaliation.

That led to the leak of an email database, which included personal messages from the firm's sole solicitor Andrew Crossley, as well as names of those alleged to have illegally downloaded pornography.

As punishment, the Information Commissioner's Office initially decided on a £200,000 fine - which would have been the largest doled out by the data watchdog, as well as the first to an entirely private firm.

The full story

ACS Law news roundup

However, the ICO cut the fine to only £800 after Crossley signed an affidavit saying he was of "limited means" - despite living in a five-bedroom house with a Bentley on the drive.

Now, the ICO has revealed ACS Law isn't likely to pay any fine at all as Crossley has since declared bankruptcy.

In a Q&A session to mark the ICO's annual report, the watchdog was asked which organisations were given a discount on penalties by paying on time. "All of them apart from ACS law who were subject to a bankruptcy order and thus not able to pay," the ICO said.

An ICO spokesman told PC Pro that there was still a "limited chance of being paid," but what money remained with ACS Law was being divvied up among a "long list of creditors" - with the ICO at the end of it.

Crossley had told PC Pro that he'd considered appealing the judgement, but the ICO said no appeal had been filed yet.

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User comments

Led, not lead.

By Grace_Quirrel on 6 Jul 2011

Typo corrected

Apologies for the error.

Barry Collins

By Barry_Collins on 6 Jul 2011

I have a feeling that he wouldn't have cared if the people he accused and wanted money from declared bankruptcy.

By tech3475 on 6 Jul 2011

A salutary lesson to all such wrongdoers! Try it on by sending out demands (on a fishing trip mailshot), behave despicably (demand large payments on threat of even larger penalties), break the law (holding people's data insecurely), go bankrupt and escape any financial penalty. I believe he can't act as a solicitor anymore but I'm sure he'll find something to do and some way of making a living.

Not a great advert for British regulation and justice.

By QbixQbix on 7 Jul 2011

Irony much!

The BBC have been running a one-sided film industry propaganda piece this morning on piracy. The BBC "has obtained figures" (provided by the film industry) "costing billions" "losing job" blah, blah.
Never a report on the extortionate increase in the price of cinema tickets, or the obscene price of popcorn (which costs less than the paper bag it's in) during a the current economy and when film industry costs are going down!
It's no wonder people feel morally justified to download films instead of being ripped off in cinemas. And it doesn't cost the film industry anything, because they wouldn't go to the pictures if they couldn't download, as the film industry's greed has made sure they can't afford to go.

I took my wife and two children to see Transformers this week and between a family ticket and popcorn it cost me £50!! If I stop going to the cinema, it's not pirates to blame, but cinemas!

Then we have these film industry protection racket thugs, ACS Law, who’ve been brought to book for trying to blackmail people over “copyright infringement” and now simply won’t pay their fines! Does anyone else see the irony? “Sorry milud, I can’t pay a fine because after I pay the mortgage on my mansion and fuel my Jags, I have no money! Sob!”
If the film industry have their way, by buying the right MP's, soon they will have the legal right to wire-tap every ISP connection and monitor everyone (at our expense)! Imagine every ISP working on behalf of outfits like ACS law...
Welcome to 1984, except it's corporate America in charge and not the government.

By cheysuli on 7 Jul 2011


What do mean soon? They already are in their pockets

By nik_endeavour on 7 Jul 2011

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