First published on the Brett Wilson Media Law Blog on 14 August 2016
In the case of TLT and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Home Secretary was ordered to pay a total of £39,500 to six asylum seekers whose confidential information was accidentally published on the Home Office website. The information remained on the website for two weeks before being taken down. Mr Justice Mitting gave judgment on 24 June 2016 after a trial which lasted for 3 days.
The information was published in October 2013 and contained details of almost 1,600 people in the family returns process. Mitting J found that the accidental publication of this information constituted a misuse of private information and a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 in the case of all six claimants in the action. In four cases the publication revealed the claimant’s name, age and status of their application for asylum. In the other two cases the applicants were not named but were identifiable as family members of those who were.
The Court heard the claimants’ shock and upset caused by the accidental disclosure of their private information. Mitting J made awards of damages of between £2,500 and £13,500 to all six claimants in respect of the damage and distress they had suffered. The Home Secretary was also ordered to pay each of the claimant’s legal costs, and in one case was ordered to pay an additional amount as it had rejected a reasonable offer by the claimant to settle.