A former British National Party member, who caused a media storm last year when he put membership details online, was yesterday fined £200 for leaking the information.
Matthew Single, 37, formerly of Brinsley, Nottinghamshire, admitted disclosing the names, addresses and occupations of some 12,000 members, including a number of journalists, on a blog.
District Judge John Stobart, sitting at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, ordered Single to pay an additional £100 towards the cost of the prosecution.
Charges against his wife, Sadie Graham-Single, were dropped. She was not at the hearing.
The judge told Single: “Anything that is posted on the internet has the effect of opening a Pandora’s box.
“What you put on the internet can never be taken from it and while there may be some members in this organisation who do not deserve to be protected by the law they should be able to expect that officers within the organisation will not abuse the information provided to them.
“The law exists to save people from such revenge attacks.
“It came as a surprise to me, as it will to many members of the party, that to do something as foolish and as criminally dangerous as you did will only incur a financial penalty.
“It comes as no surprise to me that somebody to do with an organisation that prides itself on Britishness is in fact living off the British people on Job Seeker’s Allowance and that is why the fine is so low as to be ridiculous.”
Single, an unemployed engineer, was accused last November of leaking the BNP’s membership list in a blog which contained the names, addresses and contact details of some 12,000 people, including current and former servicemen, teachers, doctors and a police officer.
The court heard that police across the nation received more than 160 complaints following attacks on BNP members and their property.
Single spoke only to confirm his name and age before entering his guilty plea.
The court heard that he was a member of the party when he began a relationship with his now wife, and that she gave him the information which he subsequently released.
Single trained BNP members in security while his wife was head of group development for the party nationally. She was also a BNP councillor for her home constituency of Brinsley on Broxtowe Borough Council. She is now a recruitment consultant.
The police investigation, which was said to have cost about £50,000, was launched after BNP party leader Nick Griffin lodged a complaint with Dyfed-Powys police, his local force, on the grounds that publishing the list breached human rights and data protection laws.
The BNP said the list was based on its members in 2007 and many names had been added.
BNP spokesman John Walker said some party members were considering civil cases against Single and his wife.
They were both expelled from the party in late 2007 after sending a mailshot to members containing their details, he said, adding that the BNP leadership then obtained a court order banning them both from publishing the list, Mr Walker said.