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Blagging: What Is It?

In this age we are in, obtaining information can be easily done. The question is, are the methods used legal and acceptable?


Have you ever heard of the term ‘blagging’? If you haven’t, then this article is for you. So, what exactly is it?


Blagging is commonly defined as recklessly or knowingly disclosing or obtaining personal information or data without the consent of the data controller (Data Protection Act 1998). One of the most commonly cited example of this is the hacking of voicemails and emails by various parties on behalf of the News of the World organization. The fallout from that particular issue has been widespread and it continues to evolve.


The Story Behind It

In 2012, four private investigators were jailed for blagging. Philip Campbell Smith, a private investigator, was alleged to have hacked emails on behalf of the News of the World. He was jailed for eight months on charges of blagging information from the HM Revenue and Customs, Police National Computer, and Interpol.


Campbell Smith was a former British Army Intelligence officer and he admitted to offences of fraud. He, along with three co-defendants, used a range of deceptive techniques to obtain mortgage and bank account details, medical information and records from the Police National Computer.


The information gathered was sold to clients including insurance companies, solicitors, and foreign exchange brokers.


The practice of ‘blagging’ was again thrusted into the spotlight following allegations that one newspaper targeted the personal information of a former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.


What the Law Says

Since 1994, blagging phone bills, addresses, health records and bank statements has been illegal.


The Data Protection Act, however, offers a defence made available to anyone who shows that obtaining, procuring or disclosing the information was in the public interest. The public interest defence, however, was never tested in court.


This hasn’t stopped journalists from paying private investigators to indulge in this shadowy technique.



This whole thing underlies the importance, in both the Process Serving industry, as well as the Private Investigation Industry, of keeping the methods of disclosing, procuring, and obtaining any information above board and legal.


How We Can Help

Here at SELECT DOCUMENT, we provide process serving services as well as executive searches, court filings, and risk management services. To know more about the services that we offer, feel free to drop by our website today or contact us at 1.888.498.4500. We hope to hear from you soon!