Company convicted of sending spam email to former swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin

Two firms fined after Data Protection Commissioner prosecutes over separate offences

Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 16:29

Two companies have been convicted of sending spam email or text messages, including one sent to barrister and former Olympic swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin.

Lex Software Ltd, trading as Legal and General Software, pleaded guilty before the Dublin District Court to two charges of sending unsolicited email messages – one to Ms Smith de Bruin and another to Patrick Wilkinson.

In evidence, assistant data protection commissioner Tony Delaney told the court the defendant company had admitted sending the spam email after a formal warning had previously been issued by the Data Protection Commissioner following an earlier complaint by Ms Smith de Bruin.

He said it had also confirmed having sent a spam email to Mr Wilkinson without providing a means of allowing him opt out of receiving further marketing emails. The company pleaded guilty to both charges.

Operations director of Lex Software, John Gilmartin, submitted that Ms Smith de Bruin’s details had been removed from the company’s list at her request but when a new list of contacts had been created using the updated legal directory, her details had been included in error.

The company had engaged an external provider to ensure all future marketing emails would contain a means of opting out.

Judge William Hamill imposed convictions on both charges and fined the company €200 in respect of each one.

Separately, Judge Hamill convicted Hanford Commercial Ltd, trading as the Maldron Hotel, Wexford, on a charge of sending an unsolicited marketing message by text, where a complainant had previously opted out of receiving such messages. The company pleaded guilty to the charge. Judge Hamill imposed a fine of €200.

Mr Delaney told the court the complainant, Robert Gogan, had previously sought the assistance of the Data Protection Commissioner to ensure his details were removed from the company’s database and that a formal warning had been issued to it in February of last year.

Sean McKeon, of the hotel group, told the court steps had been taken to ensure compliance with the regulations on sending such material.