Belfast Telegraph

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

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Belfast City Council has obtained a court order to stop any further release of elected members’ personal details following a security breach.

Councillors had to cancel their bank cards yesterday after an employee accidentally released all their personal information to a member of the public.

But last night the woman who received the information vowed to fight City Hall chiefs.

“They think they can shove me around but they can’t,” she said. “I have big, size nine feet and I can walk all over them. I am not scared of them.”

The disclosure included bank details, home addresses, personal phone numbers, car registrations, makes and models of their vehicles as well as national insurance numbers.

In some cases, even councillors’ passport numbers and the country in which they were issued were detailed.

Last night Ciaran Quigley, head of legal services at the City Hall, sent a text message to all 51 councillors informing them that the council had successfully secured an injunction demanding that the confidential information be handed over to the court.

The message read: “The council has secured an injunction restraining (the woman who cannot be named for legal reasons) from any further dissemination of the information which was obtained by her from the council and which has been the subject of today’s (Tuesday) Press coverage.

“The judge has accepted that the information was clearly private and had come into her possession as a result of an obvious mistake.

“There will be a further court hearing on Thursday when (the unnamed woman) will have the opportunity to present any case that she feels she has.

“In the meantime she is required to hand over any remaining documentation which she has and produce a sworn statement to the court to confirm other parties to whom information has been sent.”

It is understood the woman who received information via email is a relative of a former councillor and lives in England. She regularly requests information from Belfast City Council.

She received an email earlier yesterday from John Walsh, legal services manager at Belfast City Council, informing her that the council would be going to court.

A council source told the Belfast Telegraph that disciplinary action had not yet been taken against the employee who inadvertently released the details.

A spokesman said the circumstances leading to the security blunder were being investigated.

”We are aware there has been a breach of data protection,” he said. “We have launched an immediate investigation.

The Information Commission has been informed of the data protection breach.

Monday’s extraordinary security breach involved the accidental release of personal data on all 51 Belfast City councillors which could potentially put the safety of them and that of their families at risk.

During the Troubles one councillor, Lawrence Kennedy, was shot dead in 1981, while several others had their properties attacked.

Belfast Telegraph


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