Ex-council worker fined for stealing vulnerable people’s personal information

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Ex-council worker fined for stealing vulnerable people’s personal information

Nilesh Morar, an ex-employee of Leicester City Council, has been prosecuted at Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court for unlawfully obtaining personal data.

Mr Morar took the details of service users of Leicester City Council’s Adult Social Care Department without his employer’s consent, which is against the law. The council became aware that after leaving the Council he had set up his own business.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act, and was fined £160, ordered to pay £364.08 prosecution costs and a £20 victim surcharge. 

During an initial investigation, the council found the defendant had sent 34 emails to a private email account in February 2016, prior to him leaving the organisation.

Head of ICO Enforcement Steve Eckersley said:

“People’s personal data is protected by law and employees should not be helping themselves to information if they decide to set up a new business or move to a new position.”

It was later discovered that the personal information of 349 individuals were sent to his personal email address including sensitive personal data in relation to service users including medical conditions, details of care and financial details and records of debt.

Mr Eckersley added:

“Employees need to understand the consequences of taking people’s personal information with them when they leave a job role. It’s illegal and when you’re caught, you will be prosecuted.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
  5. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is: 
    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights; 
    • secure; and 
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  6. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice. 
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.

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