UK Daily Mail 
Sunday, Sept 7, 2008
A council used controversial anti-terror laws to spy on a crew of refuse collectors after receiving a tip-off that they were incorrectly emptying a dustbin.
Officials set up an undercover surveillance operation in an attempt to prove the three binmen were being bribed by a newsagent to take away trade waste when he had not paid the extra fee for it to be collected.
Bury Council in Greater Manchester said the investigation proved that the men had removed trade waste – and it also claimed they had used their refuse truck for ‘pecuniary gain’ because one accepted a bottle of strawberry-flavoured mineral water from the shopkeeper.
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As a result, the refuse collectors, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were suspended on full pay for ten months and then sacked.
But now they have won more than £100,000 between them in an out-of-court settlement after claiming unfair dismissal.
One of the collectors said: ‘I thought the law allowing secret filming was to help protect us from terrorists – not for filming three binmen who might have made a mistake by collecting an extra bin or accepting a bottle of pop.’
The episode is just the latest example of town halls using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) – introduced in 2000 ‘in the interests of national security’ – to investigate trivial offences.