Tottenham Hotspur’s spies targeted Olympic Park boss Dionne Knight’s daughter


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The Independent Online

The school-age daughter of an Olympic official was targeted by rogue private investigators working for Tottenham Hotspur as the football club bid to occupy the new stadium after the 2012 Games.

Lee Stewart obtained the girl’s name, birth certificate, date of birth and details of her school during an investigation into Dionne Knight, the Olympic Park Legacy Company project director.

The Sunday Times published an inaccurate article in July 2011 that alleged Ms Knight was receiving “secret” payments from her lover Ian Tompkins, an executive at West Ham United football club – Tottenham’s rival bidder for the stadium.

The Olympic quango had declared West Ham its preferred bidder for the stadium five months earlier.

The targeting of Ms Knight’s daughter emerged at Southwark Crown Court as Mr Stewart and two other private investigators were fined for unlawfully obtaining confidential information on Olympics officials and West Ham executives, including vice-chair  Karren Brady who stars in the BBC show The Apprentice.

Howard Hill, 59, a former partner at accountancy firm PKF – which was hired by Tottenham Hotspur to examine the bid process – was fined £100,000, Mr Stewart, 40, was ordered to pay £13,250 and Richard Forrest, 31, was fined £10,000.

There is no suggestion Tottenham knew of or commissioned the illegal activity.

Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC told the court that a private investigator had “blagged” Ms Brady’s mobile phone bills from Vodafone.

He said a man had called the telecoms giant three times in February 2011 claiming he had authority to access the data.

Copies of Ms Brady’s bills from December 2010 to February 2011 were then sent to a bogus email beginning with westhamunited151, which were then passed on to Mr Hill.

West Ham joint chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan were among other people who became “the focus of attention for this activity”, Mr Dennis said. The mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and several prominent figures in the OPLC were also targeted.

Judge Alistair McCreath, Recorder of Westminster, said Mr Hill “had full control over this project” and had “engaged others to do your dirty work for you” for financial gain.

He said: “By various devious strategies you accessed emails, phone records, bank records and in one case details of where the child of one of your victims went to school.

“The birth certificate of that child was obtained. Surveillance was carried out. Credit reports were obtained.”

All three pleaded guilty to one charge of obtaining personal data contrary to Section 55 Data Protection Act 1998.

The men were arrested in November 2011 after Baroness Ford, chair of the OPLC, claimed her board had been “under surveillance” by Spurs during the bidding process.