Policing minister’s wife reported to CPS over corporate espionage claims

A leading businesswoman who is married to the policing minister, Chris Philp, has been reported to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by a former employer and is being sued in the high court over allegations of corporate espionage.

Elizabeth Philp, 40, whose husband has called for “zero tolerance” to all crime, is accused of data-handling offences and unlawfully using confidential information from her former employer to set up a rival business.

She denies the allegations and is countersuing her former employer, whom she accuses of cyber-attacking the website of the company she subsequently founded.

The legal tussle centres on the departure of Philp from the London Specialist Pharmacy Group (LSPG), where she was chief executive until 2017, and the founding of her own company, Roseway Labs.

Her former employer has accused her of having stored and retained “trade secrets” on a Dell XPS laptop computer that was not wiped before she left the company.

It is further claimed that, along with three other former London Specialist Pharmacy employees, Philp conspired to poach her former employer’s client lists for their new firm, leading to losses of approximately £1.5m.

In Philp’s defence and counterclaim, she denies the allegations and claims that a delay in carrying out a factory reset of her laptop was the result of being “fully involved in supporting her husband’s campaign as part of the 8 June 2017 general election”.

“To the best of her recollection, [Elizabeth Philp] did not access the laptop at any time following her cessation of work for the claimants prior to the performance of the factory reset,” the defence says.

The LSPG has also detailed a number of occasions when Philp’s alleged co-conspirators are said to have downloaded confidential information or sent it to personal email addresses.

In response, it is claimed that the information was not confidential and had been sent as part of the normal course of work. The General Pharmaceutical Council rejected a complaint last October relating to one of the employees.

The claimants, Gluck Health Limited and its subsidiary, the London Specialist Pharmacy, are seeking the return of a £10,000 termination payment given to Philp along with hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages.

In a letter to the CPS, lawyers acting for the London Specialist Pharmacy also claim that Philp and the other former employees committed offences under section 170 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Philp said she had not been contacted by the CPS or the police. She now describes herself as the co-founder and chief executive of Roseway Labs, a pharmacy that was founded in 2018 to work with private doctors to offer personalised medicine.

The company provides medications for health issues such as hair loss, skin problems and hormone imbalances, a sector in which the LSPG claimed it had a “near monopoly” before Roseway was founded.

The legal action is the latest twist in a bitter rivalry between Dr Marion Gluck, 74, who founded Gluck Health Limited, and Philp’s company.

Gluck, who is regarded as a pioneer in the treatment of hormonal imbalances, was suspended from medical practice for four months in September after she was found to have accessed restricted parts of Roseway’s website after borrowing the log-in details.

The data breach was discovered and reported by Philp in 2022. Gluck had denied personally accessing the details, but she accepted that she “facilitated” the use of the login address for her staff, claiming it was to study the format of Roseway’s website. Lawyers for Roseway are now seeking damages.

Philp said: “Roseway Labs was the victim of a deliberate and sustained cyber-attack by the Specialist Pharmacy, which only raised allegations against Roseway Labs once it was clear that their activities had been discovered.

“This was four years after Roseway Labs had started trading. Nothing of substance has been raised. Roseway Labs reported the attack to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which suggested that we report it to the police under the Computer Misuse Act.

“We chose not to do so at that time and, instead, reported it to the relevant regulators. At no point has Roseway Labs received any contact from the police or the Crown Prosecution Service and [Roseway Labs] has not committed any offence.”

Philp’s husband is standing to be re-elected as the MP for Croydon South. This February, he called for a significant increase in the number of arrests, arguing that there was no such thing as a minor crime.

“I want to see zero tolerance towards all crime from the police and a back-to-basics approach that significantly increases the number of criminals caught and prosecuted,” he said.

 

Updated: Juni 19, 2024 — 3:38 pm

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