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CCTV footage of comedian Alan Davies attack outside the Groucho Club may have been illegal
The Groucho Clubs CCTV system that captured the images of top comedian Alan Davies attacking a tramp outside the famous club was not registered in accordance with the law or with the Information Commissioners Office until the 25th June 2009.
By: Tony Lattice
Since the 24th October 2001 it has been a criminal offence to use an unregistered CCTV system to record people in a public or private place. From the 24th October 2001 until 25th of June 2009 it would appear that any CCTV footage that was recorded by the Groucho Clubs CCTV system during this period was in contravention of the law and the Data Protection Act. Any footage may well be useless as evidence in a Court of law. This means that any police investigation at the club, including the alleged rape at the club in February 2007 may not be able to use the CCTV footage from the club as evidence.
The Data Protection Act was put into place to protect people from unlawful processing of personal data. Since the Data Protection Act 1998 came into force the Information Commissioner has issued a Code of Practice for CCTV systems that contains 62 legally enforceable 'Standards' that must be met to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Under the code of practice CCTV cameras must be visible with clear signs in place. In addition, licensed camera operators have an obligation to stop images of individuals being seen by third parties. This was clearly not the case as the CCTV tape that recorded the incident showing the Jonathan Creek star bite the ear of Paul McElfatrick was handed over to the Police and was later leaked to the Mirror newspaper who published grainy stills from the incident. Whoever leaked this CCTV footage committed a criminal offence.
Between the dates of the 24th October 2001 and the 25th of June 2009, the Groucho Clubs CCTV system was unregistered with the ICO. The system was recording thousands of data subjects every day, including anyone walking past the Club premises, entering or leaving the club including club Members, their guests and staff. The Information Commissioners Office has taken the view in relation to the Groucho Club’s unregistered CCTV system that there is not enough evidence and it is not in the public interest to pursue matters further.
Perhaps if the matter was fully investigated by the ICO instead of simply sending a letter, the Data Protection Act would account for something and the ICO would be taken seriously by data processors. The Groucho case highlights the ineffectiveness of the ICO to protect data subjects from abuse. This softly softly approach is offering no protection whatsoever to data subjects as there is no serious deterrent to stem sustained abuse of the Act. The Groucho Club have not received so much as a slap on the wrist from the ICO. Such a breach of the act should have been met with firm action and an ICO audit to serve as a deterrent to others.
These revelations are part of the book being written by Tyrone D Murphy on the Groucho Club titled “The Groucho Gate Affair” www.g-book.co.UK