Controversial solicitor gets away with slap on the wrist
So Andrew Crossley, the man who once boasted his legal company was pulling in hundreds of thousands a year, is so skint he only gets slapped with £1,000 fine by the ICO.
Anne Muir, a 58-year-old grandmother from Strathclyde, on the other hand, who has never boasted about being rich, could be forced to pay a fine of thousands of pounds; plus get a criminal record into the bargain after pleading guilty to illegally downloading files to her PC.
It's difficult, really difficult to see the justice here. OK Anne Muir committed an offence. She should not have downloaded these files. But she wasn't apparently making any money from this. It was wrong yes, but ask any of the recipients of the letters sent by ACS Law, Crossley's firm, whether they think his actions were an offence against them. And he was certainly making money from them.
Even Judge Colin Birss who presided over the hearings at the Patents Court was not impressed. Comments he made suggested Crossley's actions were "amateurish and slipshod" and the solicitor and his client Media Cat had been "flirting with abuse of process".
At one hearing he said: "Let me be absolutely straight. I am getting the distinct impression that with every twist and turn, it appears the claimant is trying to avoid judicial scrutiny."
Mrs Muir will be sentenced on 31 May but Peter Bradwell, campaigner at Open Rights Group, has released a statement putting things into perspective.
"Anne Muir is a grandmother and a nurse who has stolen nothing and has made no money from her activity. It is not clear the music industry has lost any money as a consequence.
"She is now facing a fine of thousands of pounds and is being labelled a criminal. What she has done is no worse than a teenager hoarding cassettes. This case is a waste of public resources, arbitrary and disproportionate," he said.
Crossley may have convinced the ICO he is broke, and given the privacy watchdog a sworn statement to this effect but he still has to face some more music. He is being investigated by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and faces a Wasted Costs hearing on 17 June.
In addition, Ralli, the solicitors firm representing some of the defendants in the recent file-sharing case is gunning for Crossley as well. If it believes he is not as broke as he makes out, it may launch a lawsuit on behalf of some of the people who ACS Law sent letters to.
Picture copyright: Citizensheep
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