Hon­ours data leak ‘dis­as­ter’, says IDS

Manchester Evening News - - NATIONAL -

MIN­IS­TERS need to ask “very se­ri­ous ques­tions” about how the home addresses of celebri­ties, mil­i­tary fig­ures and el­derly peo­ple named in the New Year Hon­ours list came to be in­ad­ver­tently posted on­line, a for­mer Con­ser­va­tive Party leader has said.

Iain Dun­can Smith, who was knighted in the lat­est hon­ours list, de­scribed the al­leged data breach as a “com­plete dis­as­ter”. There have also been calls for an in­quiry into the leak, which is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice (ICO).

The Cab­i­net Of­fice apol­o­gised and said it was con­tact­ing those af­fected after de­tails re­lat­ing to the ma­jor­ity of the 1,097 re­cip­i­ents could be viewed on­line from 11pm on Fri­day, shortly after news of their hon­ours went pub­lic. The de­tails were re­moved around an hour after the dis­clo­sure.

Sir Iain said: “Min­is­ters need to be ask­ing some very se­ri­ous ques­tions of those in­volved about how this was al­lowed to hap­pen and why no fi­nal checks were car­ried out be­fore the doc­u­ment was pub­lished.

“Every­body knows vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing about me. It’s much more con­cern­ing for pri­vate cit­i­zens, like those who have been in­volved in polic­ing or counter-ter­ror­ism or other such sen­si­tive cases, to have their addresses pub­lished.”

Lord Ker­slake, who was head of the civil ser­vice be­tween 2012 and 2014, said an “ur­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion” was needed. He said: “It is a se­ri­ous and in­deed ex­tra­or­di­nary breach be­cause this is a well-es­tab­lished process that has gone on in pretty much the same way for years, so I think an ur­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion is cer­tainly needed.

“Of course, it’s likely to be hu­man er­ror, as has been sug­gested, but we need to know how well staff were trained about the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing se­cu­rity. Were they briefed on the po­ten­tial con­se­quences if this in­for­ma­tion was re­leased?”

The list saw awards given to mem­bers of Eng­land’s World Cup-win­ning cricket team, as well as per­form­ers such as Sir El­ton John and Grease star Olivia New­tonJohn. Ali­son Saun­ders, the for­mer di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, was also among the hon­ours re­cip­i­ents, along­side 94-year-old D-Day vet­eran Harry Billinge, and 13-yearold school­boy Ibrahim Yousaf. The list also in­cluded se­nior diplo­mats, counter-ter­ror po­lice and fig­ures from the mil­i­tary.

Only six peo­ple hon­oured for ser­vices to de­fence were left off the list, the BBC said.

A Cab­i­net Of­fice spokesman said: “A ver­sion of the New Year Hon­ours 2020 list was pub­lished in er­ror which con­tained re­cip­i­ents’ addresses. The in­for­ma­tion was re­moved as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We apol­o­gise to all those af­fected and are look­ing into how this hap­pened. We have re­ported the mat­ter to the ICO.”

The in­tro­duc­tion of General Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion rules in May 2018 in­creased the penal­ties reg­u­la­tors such as the ICO are able to in­tro­duce. It means breaches can re­sult in penal­ties equiv­a­lent of up to 4% of an­nual global turnover or £17m – which­ever is greater.

Iain Dun­can Smith

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