72 told they were victims of snooping


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The Independent Online

Dozens of people have been told by the Information Commissioner's Office they were the target of searches by a private investigator working for newspapers who was later convicted of breaching data protection rules.

A total of 72 people have been confirmed as appearing among the 4,000 names contained in files seized in March 2003 in a raid on the Hampshire offices of Steve Whittamore, among whose customers were the Daily Mail and the News of the World.

This February, the ICO created a fast-track system for people who want to know whether they were the subject of searches.

A total of 135 people are thought to have used the online system. The ICO has never published detailed records obtained by Whittamore, who was convicted of breaching the Data Protection Act in April 2005.

Among his known targets were the singer Charlotte Church and actor Hugh Grant.