The firm faces an inquiry over the operation, which involved a bug being planted on the nephew of billionaire Sir Frederick Barclay as part of a bitter high court battle between Sir Frederick and the children of his twin brother, Sir David.
The operation took place between last November and January and secretly recorded Sir Frederick at the Ritz Hotel, which was owned by his family until March. Sir Frederick’s lawyers have claimed it amounts to “commercial espionage on a vast scale”.
Sir Frederick and his daughter Amanda are suing Sir David’s sons Alistair, Aidan and Howard, as well as Aidan’s son Andrew, for invasion of privacy, breach of confidence and breach of data protection laws, reported The Sunday Times.
The lawsuit alleges that the operation may have had other people unwittingly recorded. Evidence in the court judgment showed that Quest Global, part of Lord Stevens’ investigative firm, invoiced for 405 hours to transcribe the recordings.
It was also alleged that Quest Global provided a wifi bug and the firm faces a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
A defence document already conceded that the bugging operation breached the Data Protection Act 2018, stating: “The defendants accept that the claimants are entitled to compensation.” Quest Global is not a defendant in the proceedings.
Mr Stevens, the Met’s commissioner for four years between 2000 and 2004, was previously found to have breached the Lords’ code of conduct after a complaint was filed against him in January for not disclosing his interests in the House of Lords register, including his stake in the holding company of Quest Global.
The ICO said it did not keep information on the categories of information Quest Global was authorised to process under data protection laws, and declined to comment further.