Poulter reports his own office to regulator after accidental data breach

Dr Dan Poulter has reported his office to the Information Commissioner. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Dr Dan Poulter has reported his office to the Information Commissioner. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has reported his own office to the Information Commissioner after the names and addresses of 177 constituents were mistakenly sent out on an attachment to an e-mail.

The spreadsheet was accidentally attached to the e-mail instead of a leaflet from the government explaining its food standards policies to people who had written to the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP with concerns about changes to safety in any post-Brexit trade deal.

After the e-mails were sent out, recipients received seven further messages from Dr Poulter’s office asking for them to be recalled.

One person who received the e-mail, but wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I’m pretty shocked and appalled that this data has been sent out to so many people without my knowledge or consent. “They’ve obviously realised their mistake as they’ve sent out seven recall e-mail attempts. But something like this really shouldn’t be happening, as that’s now mine and 176 other people’s home addresses and e-mail addresses which have been broadcast for anyone with this e-mail to see.”

Another recipient said she was concerned about her address and e-mail being published.

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Dr Poulter said: “In the first instance, I would like to apologise unreservedly on behalf of my office to those affected. This is not something that has happened in my office before and the privacy of my constituents and their personal information is a matter of the highest concern to me. Every effort is made to ensure that all personal information is maintained by my office securely and safely.

“While this appears to be an entirely isolated case of administrative error, I have nonetheless asked for an urgent investigation to be conducted in my office and I have immediately contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office to seek their further guidance.”

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A spokeswoman for the Commissioner’s Office said there was a range of action that could be taken – from giving advice to, for major firms who have had a serious and sustained breach, a fine of up to 4% of turnover.

A spokesman for Dr Poulter said the report had been officially logged with the Information Commissioner’s Office and a receipt had been received and they were now waiting to hear what would happen next.

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