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02 May 2008, 11:55

Almost 200 HMRC staff disciplined for snooping last year

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Inadvertent losses such as the widely publicised missing HMRC data disks and stolen Ministry of Defence laptops weren't the only threats to the personal data of UK citizens at the hands of government last year. In answer to a Parliamentary Question put by Philip Hammond, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Kennedy has revealed that 192 members of HMRC staff were disciplined in 2007 for accessing personal or sensitive data in breach of departmental policy.

Kennedy stated "HMRC has a strict policy forbidding staff to access customer records, unless they have a legitimate business need. Breaches of this policy are taken seriously and any breach will result in the commencement of disciplinary proceedings. Each case is treated on its merits but in many cases, the disciplinary penalty for breach is dismissal." She emphasised that the number of culprits amounts to less than one per cent of staff, and expressed confidence in "the strength of HMRC's internal disciplinary procedure".

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