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Adviser ordered to pay £10k for stealing ex-boss’ data

Adviser ordered to pay £10k for stealing ex-boss’ data

A financial adviser has been ordered to pay £10,000 to an ex-boss after he stole his customer database and used it to set up his own business.

The defendant used a flash drive to download six gigabytes of data which he used to approach some of the customers and ask them to switch to his rival venture.

The intermediary had worked for the Pension Drawdown Company in Torquay, Devon, for two years before he decided to resign and start his own business called Positive Solutions Financial Services.

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He was ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to his former boss Jonathan Walker after he admitted two offences of breaking section 55 of the Data Protection Act.

But he was found not guilty of the more serious offence of fraud, on which a jury were unable to reach a verdict at a trial two years ago.

He was conditionally discharged by Judge Graham Cottle at Exeter Crown Court and ordered to pay compensation.

The judge told the adviser: “The trial at your trial for fraud was unable to reach a verdict because some of the jury probably believed this was really a civil dispute rather than a criminal matter. I utterly sympathise with that view.

“You have now admitted knowingly obtaining personal data. A long time has passed and you have set up your own business and a line needs to be drawn under this case.

“You were responsible for your previous employer losing some commission so I shall order he receives compensation.”

Miss Kelly Scrivener, prosecuting, said Mr Walker complained to the police after discovering some of his clients had been approached by the defendant, who was found with the entire database on his computer.

Mr Peter Coombe, defending, said the adviser had brought some clients with him when he joined the business and had a gentleman’s agreement he could take them back when he left.

He said he did not have time to go through the database looking for these names and had downloaded it all so he could pick them out later. He had intended to delete data on the 400 other customers.

The adviser accepted he had broken data protection rules by removing the zip drive files, but denied any dishonest intent lay behind his copying of client risk and valuation files.