Hospital in alleged Kate data breach says all disciplinary steps will be taken

The hospital at the centre of claims staff attempted to access the Princess of Wales’s private medical records has vowed “all appropriate investigatory, regulatory and disciplinary steps will be taken”.

Chief executive of the London Clinic, Al Russell, said: “There is no place at our hospital for those who intentionally breach the trust of any of our patients or colleagues.”

The UK’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is looking into the alleged royal data breach at the private hospital where Kate had abdominal surgery and is in the process of assessing the information.

The allegations are the latest blow to hit the future Queen, whose absence from public life over the past two months has led to wild conspiracy theories on social media about her whereabouts and health.

The digitally-altered Mother’s Day photograph of Kate and her children, which the princess admitted to editing, further compounded the problem.

Mr Russell, said in a statement: “Everyone at the London Clinic is acutely aware of our individual, professional, ethical and legal duties with regards to patient confidentiality.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
Kate spent 13 nights at the London Clinic in January (Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA)

“We have systems in place to monitor management of patient information and, in the case of any breach, all appropriate investigatory, regulatory and disciplinary steps will be taken.

“There is no place at our hospital for those who intentionally breach the trust of any of our patients or colleagues.”

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said the online rumours and frenzy around Kate was “spiralling out of control”.

Royals attends Christmas Day Church service
Kate on her last public appearance on Christmas Day (Joe Giddens/PA)

Ms Seward told Times Radio: “For me, it sort of has a very chilling feeling.

“It reminds me that just before the Princess of Wales was, the other, you know, Diana, Princess of Wales, was tragically killed in that car accident, it was spiralling out of control then.

“I remember every single day it was headline news – what she was doing on her holiday in France with Dodi Fayed.

“I just remember saying, this is spiralling out of control. And I’ve got the same feeling now.”

Princess Diana visits Leicester
Diana, Princess of Wales died in a car crash in 1997 (John Stillwell/PA)

“They’ve got to have some privacy in order to survive, in order to exist and do what they do. They can’t have everything out there,” she said.

But Ms Seward warned that the Windsors needed a new strategy, and suggested the late Queen’s advice to ignore rumours belonged to a different era.

“I think it is a world that’s gone. As much as it did used to work. ‘Never complain, never explain’ did work, but it doesn’t work now, not in the age of social media,” she said.

Royal Carols – Together At Christmas
Princess Charlotte, the Princess of Wales and Prince George arriving for the Royal Carols – Together At Christmas service in December (Chris Jackson/PA)

Asked about the alleged breaches at the London Clinic following Kate’s treatment, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Clearly there are strict rules on patient data that must be followed.”

Asked whether people should give Kate a break, the spokesman said: “I think we all want to get behind the Princess of Wales, and indeed the Prince of Wales, and we obviously wish her the speediest of recoveries.”

The princess was admitted to the private hospital for abdominal surgery on January 16.

Details of Kate’s condition have not been disclosed but Kensington Palace previously said it was not cancer-related and that the princess wished for her personal medical information to remain private.

The sign for The London Clinic in central London
The sign for The London Clinic in central London (Lucy North/PA)

The ICO can carry out criminal investigations and prosecute individuals where it believes an offence may have been committed.

Usually, an assessment of the breach report will be carried out by its Criminal Investigation Team, who will decide whether to proceed in accordance with the Regulatory Action Policy.

This decision includes looking at whether there is sufficient evidence to support a prosecution and whether it is in the public interest to do so.

Easter Mattins Service at St George’s Chapel
Kate with her family at an Easter Sunday service in 2022 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The police also have powers to investigate and they do bring prosecutions under the Data Protection Act, normally when other offences are prosecuted at the same time.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said police have “been asked to look at” whether staff at the clinic attempted to access the princess’s medical records.

She said there could be “hefty implications” for accessing the notes without permission, including prosecution or fines.

The Princess of Wales surgery
Images of William and Kate at a farm shop in Windsor were printed in The Sun newspaper (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A spokesperson for the ICO said: “We can confirm that we have received a breach report and are assessing the information provided.”

Kensington Palace said: “This is a matter for The London Clinic.”

Footage emerged of the princess out shopping with the Prince of Wales at the weekend at the Windsor Farm Shop close to their Adelaide Cottage home.

Princess of Wales surgery
The London Clinic, in central London, where the Princess of Wales was treated (Lucy North/PA)

It was reported at the weekend that the princess may speak about her health during public engagements which are not expected to resume until after Easter.

Meanwhile health regulators stressed the importance of the confidentiality of patient information.

A spokesperson for the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors, said: “We will take appropriate action where those concerns pose a risk to patients or public confidence in the profession.”

A Health and Care Professions Council spokesperson, which regulates health workers from 15 different professions including radiographers, physiotherapists and paramedics, said: “We cannot confirm whether or not a registrant is being investigated or a complaint has been made.

“The HCPC has a duty of confidentiality to both complainants and our registrants.”

Lesley Maslen, executive director of professional regulation at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said: “Our code is clear that all nurses, midwives and nursing associates must respect people’s right to privacy and confidentiality.”

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