Council apology for data breach

A council has apologised for breaching the principles of data protection law in its handling of a freedom of information request about its dealings with the leadership development charity Common Purpose.

The requester's personal details appeared on a database of requests relating to Common Purpose made under the Freedom of Information Act. The charity sends these to authorities receiving new requests to help them decide whether to treat the requests as vexatious (6 August, page 3).

The charity says it is the victim of a campaign by right-wing websites and that more than 200 such requests had been made about it in the past six months.

The requester, who asked not to be named, denied being part of any campaign and claimed he had been defamed by his inclusion on the database.

In a letter to the requester, Tony Trickett, information manager at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: "You had no expectation that your name would be passed on, so it is unfair to you that it has been."

The letter said he could not establish how the details had been passed on. "I can only apologise that the authority has breached the principles of the act in the disclosure of your name to Common Purpose."

Benjamin James, a partner at law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, said: "The motives of people asking for information under the act are irrelevant to the decision to respond. If a website is defamatory, the charity should take appropriate steps to deal with it."

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