William Eichler 28 February 2019

Council officer fined nearly £700 for data breach

Council officer fined nearly £700 for data breach image

A former council officer has been fined hundreds of pounds after he emailed confidential information to his partner to help her in a job interview.

Kevin Bunsell, 60, was employed by Nuneaton and Bedworth District Council as its Head of Building Control when his partner applied for an administrative job at the council in July 2017.

While in that role, and despite having been trained in data protection law, Mr Bunsell accessed the authority’s recruitment system and emailed the personal information of the nine rival shortlisted candidates to his own work email and also his partner’s Hotmail account.

The recruitment packs he shared included the name, address, telephone number and CV of each candidate, along with contact details for each of their two referees.

Once the data breach had been discovered, Bunsell resigned. His partner, who had been recruited by the council, was dismissed on the grounds that she had been appointed on the basis of an invalid recruitment process.

Mr Bunsell admitted a charge of unlawfully sharing data in breach of s55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 when he appeared at Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court.

He was fined £660 and was also ordered to pay £713.75 costs and a victim surcharge of £66.

‘People who supply their personal information to an organisation in good faith, such as when applying for a job, have a legal right to expect it will be treated lawfully and ethically,’ commented Steve Eckersley, director of investigations at the Information Commissioner’s Office, which brought the prosecution.

‘Not respecting people’s legal right to privacy can have serious consequences, as this case demonstrates.

‘Not only might you face a prosecution and fine, along with the attendant publicity, but you may also lose your job and severely damage your future career prospects.’

Vicarious liability image

Vicarious liability

Helen Snow, senior associate in the employment team at Geldards LLP, looks at how to mitigate against the rogue employee.
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