Managing Partner Philip Becnel was quotes in a Snopes article concerning a lawsuit filed by Rod Wheeler over a since-debunked Fox News story. The original story alleged that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich might have been responsible for hacking of DNC emails before the 2016 presidential election, despite the fact that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have concurred the hacking was actually done by the Russian government to help Donald Trump win the election.
Fox News’ article largely relied on a quote from Mr. Wheeler as a “private investigator,” but he has no license to conduct private investigations. He alleges that he was misquoted in the article and is now suing Fox News for defamation and discrimination. The company has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that Mr. Wheeler had espoused the same conspiracy theory to others on the Fox network.
Philip was interviewed about licensing laws required to conduct private investigations in in the United States and why states have those requirements, which range from a background check to experience requirements and extensive training. Asked about the distinction between a licensed private investigator and someone who is unlicensed, he responded:
One is legal and one’s illegal — you can’t run around and say you’re a lawyer when you haven’t gone to law school and passed the bar exam. Having a private detective’s license is similar to that. The reason states regulate industries like attorneys, accountants, and private investigators is because unregulated, there’s a lot of potential for unscrupulous or unqualified people to cause harm to the public.
Fox News’ botched story is a case in point and should serve as a lesson to anyone seeking the services or advise of a private investigator. Always make sure the person you hire is licensed.
To read the Snopes article, click here.