Ex-Council Employee Fined for Unlawfull Access to PII

Stockport Council

Stockport Council

A former council housing employee has been prosecuted for unlawfully accessing people's personal data.

Wendy Masterson was a customer services officer employed by a company called Stockport Homes, which is responsible for managing Stockport Council’s housing portfolio.

It was discovered by the company, that Masterson spent time viewing anti-social behaviour cases on her employer's case management system, despite the fact that she was not authorised to access this information.

Magistrates heard that between January and December 2017 Masterson accessed the data on 67 separate occasions. The offences only came to light when an audit of her activity on the system, following concerns regarding her performance. Stockport Homes suspended her from her job and she later resigned.

Masterson, of Middlesex Road, Stockport, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing people's personal data - an offence in breach of the Data Protection Act, at Stockport Magistrates Court. She was ordered to pay a fine of £300, a further £364 costs, plus a £30 victim surcharge.

The prosecution was brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Mike Shaw, an enforcement manager at the ICO said:

“People have the absolute right to expect that their personal information will be treated with the utmost privacy and in strict accordance with the UK’s data protection laws.

“Our prosecution of this individual should act as a clear warning that we will pursue and take action against those who choose to abuse their position of trust”.

A spokesperson for Stockport Council said that “Stockport council fully supports the actions of the ICO", and added:

"We have a zero tolerance approach to incidents such as this, in line with the employee code of conduct. ...Protecting the data we hold is of the highest importance to us and we treat any breach of this kind very seriously."

Source: Manchester Evening News

Peter BornerComment