Dentist plants spyware on fiancee during split

A dentist has been taken to task by the High Court for loading spyware onto his ex-fiancee's laptop to gather evidence against her as their relationship crumbled.

While browsing porn is still the most common way to get your system infected, the case against Mark Singh, reported by The Telegraph today, shows that there are other ways - such as an acrimonious split.

Singh and his ex-fiancee Moira Walsh reportedly joined forces in 1999 to set up an equestrian business in Leicestershire, but the relationship soured when a prize stallion failed to live up to expectations and the business faltered. Six years later, the pair headed to the courts to attempt to take each other for every penny they had.

The case, which is still dragging on, revealed the fact that Singh had planted an unnamed spyware package onto his once-beloved's laptop, using it to monitor her activities and attempt to gather evidence that she had no right to their joint property - including Vale Cottages, home to the joint equestrian business, and a villa in Spain.

Sadly for Singh, his efforts backfired. The spyware was discovered, and is thought to be largely responsible for a ruling by Judge Purle that he would have to pay his legal costs for the case thus far - thought to total around £130,000.

In summing up the case, Judge Purle claimed of Singh's spyware shenanigans: "It seems to me that, in old fashioned terms, Mr Singh betrayed himself in this respect as somewhat lacking in gentlemanliness, to put it at its lowest."

The court is now hearing Singh's appeal against Judge Purle's ruling, with the dentist's barrister claiming he was "hung out to dry" as a result of the spyware revelations.

The prevalence of off-the-shelf software for monitoring activity on a system, often available for just a few pounds online, means that increasing numbers are turning to such measures to gather evidence in business and civil cases. As Judge Purle's ruling shows, however, the risk can be greater than the possible reward.