Charity disputes Islington Council account of latest data leak and reveals domestic violence details included

13:34 03 August 2012

Details of domestic violence victims were also included in the second data blunder

Details of domestic violence victims were also included in the second data blunder


Islington Council’s account of its latest large-scale data blunder has been disputed by the website which exposed the error.

In its official statement, the town hall insisted the details of nearly 2,400 residents uploaded to the web page WhatDoTheyKnow (WDTK) were only contained in “hidden” parts of the document, which required “a detailed knowledge of spreadsheets” to access.

However, a spokesman for democracy and transparency charity mySociety, told the Gazette: “We disagree with the council’s description of events on this point. The personal data of 309 individuals had not been hidden and was immediately visible to anyone who opened it. The other two workbooks contained personal data of the rest of the people who were affected, but this data was on hidden sheets and would not have been immediately visible.”

The council this week refused to respond to the claims.

The data was released in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request through the WDTK website, where it was published online on June 26. It remained available for 19 days.

MySociety disclosed other details left out of the council’s account, including:

n The council released whether individuals were victims of domestic violence, as well as their name, address, gender, race, relationship status, religion and sexuality.

n A council officer attempted unsuccessfully to retrieve the original e-mail, suggesting someone may have noticed the mistake.

n A second e-mail was sent, which still included all the confidential information – albeit now all in “hidden” worksheets.

n This is believed to be the first time mySociety – which has handled more than 120,000 FoI requests – has referred a case to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

n It was sheer luck that the mistake was spotted by a volunteer at the website.

Tom Steinberg, of mySociety, wrote on the charity’s website: “Shortly after sending out these files, someone within the council tried to delete the first e-mail using Microsoft Outlook’s ‘recall’ feature.

“A short while later, the council sent a ‘replacement’ FoI response that still contained a large amount of personal information, this time in the form of hidden Excel tabs... uncovering such tabs takes seconds, and only basic computer skills.

“At no point on or after June 26 did we receive any notification from Islington (or anyone else) that problematic information had been released not once, but twice.

“It was only by sheer good fortune that our volunteer happened to stumble across these documents some weeks later.”

Letter shock

A letter sent out by Islington Council owning up to its latest shocking data blunder contained another glaring mistake – leaving residents wondering if the council is doing anything at all about the leak.

The note, posted to nearly 2,400 residents whose details – including their sexuality – were published online, simply contained a blank space under the heading “What is the council doing about this?”

After the gap, it moved onto another section, headed “What should I do?”


Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 16:00
Members of the Ben Kinsella Trust meeting with Boris Johnson at the Finsbury Library to discuss knife crime in London

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has urged more stop and searches to tackle Islington’s knife shame.

Yesterday, 14:29
Islington is lit up at Angel Central's festive extravaganza last weekend

Christmas lights switch-on events will bring festive cheer across Islington this month – with each one offering something slightly different.

Yesterday, 14:09
Holloway Prison. Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA

Holloway Prison is to close, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said this afternoon.

Yesterday, 11:58
Audrey Bailey celebrating her 90th birthday in the Mayor's Parlour at Islington Town Hall accompanied by her husband George Bailey and her daughter Sara

She was just three weeks old when her mother handed her over to strangers. But now, nearly 90 years on, former Islington resident Audrey Bailey has been welcomed back to her birthplace by the Mayor himself.

Yesterday, 08:30
Islington trading standards officer Doug Love with bottles of counterfeit alcohol

A tough stance on sale of illicit alcohol and smuggled spirits in Islington is saving the treasury almost half a million pounds in lost duty every year.

Tue, 18:01
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

The two young men from Kentish Town who left the UK to fight for Islamic State (IS) in Syria are former pupils of Acland Burghley School.

Tue, 15:10
An officer arranges flowers at the stabbing scene in Yoke Close

The 17-year-old boy who was stabbed to death in Holloway last night was found by members of the public.

Most read news


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder