A millionaire has been jailed after hiring private detectives to hack into the computer systems of business rivals and to tap their phones.
Adrian Kirby, head of waste disposal company Atlantic Waste, paid an agency £47,000 to monitor opponents of his plans to dispose of toxic waste.
The agency offered a range of services including computer hacking for £5,000 per internet address.
According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, the agency installed equipment in telephone junction boxes to reroute and record telephone conversations on hundreds of phone lines. Employees of Northamptonshire Council, local residents and a former employee of Atlantic Waste were among those targeted.
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Charles Kay, a businessman from Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was also jailed for four months for paying the same agency to hack into the computer system of a rival business to retrieve 100 e-mails.
In another case, the boss of a bathroom company was jailed for four months after paying the agency £50,000 to hack into his wife’s computer during an acrimonious divorce.
The activities of the agency came to light after a police officer was discovered working there full time while claiming to be off sick with depression.
Complaints from BT customers across the country over high bills led to the discovery of hundreds of high-tech monitoring devices on phone lines.
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