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Richard Edwards, of E Rex Makin & Co, on the abuses of covert surveillance.

Byline: Richard Edwards

THE scandal that heralded the death of the News of the World has deepened recently with the revelation the paper hired a private investigator to carry out covert surveillance on lawyers representing hacking victims. As a lawyer representing many victims of serious accidents, I often have the unfortunate responsibility of informing my clients that they have been subject to covert video surveillance organised by solicitors acting for defendant insurers.

More often than not, the footage reveals little of evidential value and the most significant impact of the evidence is to give rise to a justified sense of indignation on the part of the often significantly disabled accident victim.

My clients often struggle to understand why their integrity is being questioned and they are being subjected to intrusive scrutiny when they are the victim of the negligence of another. This is exacerbated given the negligent party usually takes no part in the claim, as conduct of the defence is assumed by the insurer who also foots the bill.

It is a concern that private investigators who conduct these operations are unregulated, and many are known to deploy dubious tactics.

In my view, private investigators, insurers and their solicitors cannot be trusted to self regulate, and appropriate safeguards such as those that apply to public authorities should be introduced.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 6, 2011
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