Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Stormont department fined £185k for selling filing cabinet containing terrorist victims details

Files on the injuries suffered, family details and compensation offered were locked in filing cabinet
Files on the injuries suffered, family details and compensation offered were locked in filing cabinet

A Stormont department has been fined £185,000 after a filing cabinet containing personal information about victims of a terrorist attack was sold at an auction.

It is the third serious data breach involving the Department of Justice in under two years.

The latest incident involved files on the injuries suffered, family details and compensation offered, as well as confidential ministerial advice.

According to the Information Commissioner's Office, the incident occurred when the Compensation Agency Northern Ireland, which falls under the control of the DoJ, moved offices in February 2012.

Minister David Ford said the breach of the Data Protection Act should not have happened
Minister David Ford said the breach of the Data Protection Act should not have happened

Staff did not realise the locked cabinet contained sensitive information, and it was earmarked for auction. It was sold, without a key, to a member of the public in May 2012.

When the buyer forced the lock he found papers dating from the 1970s through to 2005.

The buyer contacted the PSNI, which returned the papers.

ICO assistant commissioner for Northern Ireland Ken Macdonald said: "The distress that could have been caused to victims and their families had this fallen into the wrong hands is self-evident."

The £185,000 fine was reduced to £148,000 for early payment.

Justice Minister David Ford said his department took the security of personal data very seriously and the incident "should not have happened".

Further reading

Data on Northern Ireland MLA staff 'breached'

Medical records from Waterside Hospital found dumped in woman's garden

Boxes collapse led to data breach

Patient data blunder as woman is emailed private details of eight other people

Security blunder identifies RUC post applicants

Belfast councillors' bank details blunder cost almost £65k

Data leak fiasco deepens: Recipient of councillors' details defiant as injunction granted

Belfast city councillors' bank details disclosed in data foul-up

 

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